I used J. Kenji López-Alt recipe for pork tenderloin [Sous Vide Pork Tenderloin]. His recipe states that for “Medium Rare: 130°F / 54.4°C for 1 to 4 hours - Buttery tender, very juicy”.
I set my Anova Pro cooker to 54°C for 2-1/2 hours. While it was very nice, it wasn’t ‘buttery tender’, nor ‘very juicy’. I anticipated the longer time and slightly lower temperature would ensure the tenderness & juiciness as advertised. This is the second time I’ve cooked pork tenderloins (different recipes) and I haven’t obtained the moist/tender results that I get with thick steaks. Anybody have any suggestions??

Hi Brent, that recipe appears reliable. A slightly lower temperature would not unfavourably impact your results. Something else is the probable cause. It would be helpful to have all the step by step details of your cook to best identify the cause of the problem.

Disappointing outcomes with pork tenderloin are sometimes the result of an aggressive post-sear. It doesn’t take much excessive heat to dry and overcook small pieces of meat.

Are you using your instant read thermometer to monitor the internal temperatures? And while you have that thermometer handy also check the SV water temperature. It’s rare, but there have been reports here of water temperature irregularities in the past.

You might want to test cook one pork tenderloin at 126°F for 2 1/2 hours keeping the other elements of your technique the same. That may result in the desired 130°F internal temperature post searing. It should be quite tender and moist, as in just barely cooked.

One caution, that cooking temperature is right at the thermal death point of pathogens leaving little margin for food safety. It’s only for a cook and serve application, not for preparation in advance of actual service and consumption. That temperature is only appropriate for small, single muscle cuts of meat and never for minced, diced or fabricated meat items.

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I have usd Kenji López-Alt recipe for pork tenderloin many times and always have satisfactory results. I usually only cook it for about 1.5 hours, especially for the smaller ones that only weigh a pound. I agree with chatnoir’s comments and my only addition is that you may have too high expectations for a very lean piece of meat.

I usually use some sort of rub and/or make a fruit sauce on the side while the pork is cooking. Other than the sear flavor you get, pork tenderloin, like filet mignon, does not have as much flavor as the fattier cuts in their protein category, hence the plethora of sauces that have been developed since the mother sauces of France.

I followed J. Kenji López-Alt recipe exactly, except for the slight time/temp modification as indicated in my query. I seared it in butter (as the butter browned) on high heat (gas) for 1-1.5 minute per side, but I didn’t use an instant read thermometer to check the internal temp of the roast. Thanks for your input; next time I’ll set the temp & time as you suggest.

Hey Brent, an adjustment to your searing technique will improve your outcomes.

For searing preheat a heavy pan on high. The pan should be too hot for butter without burning it. Use a high temperature oil. Grapeseed oil or canola can take the heat. This cook lightly oils the meat, not the pan. It also helps bind seasonings to the meat. 1 1/2 minutes per side is too long. 45 seconds should be enough for some decent colour while not over cooking your meat.

If you want the browned butter flavour make it in a separate pan.

My suggested time and temperature is extreme. You might find the adjustments to your searing technique using your original cooking time and temperature has the desired result. When recipe problem solving only make one change at a time.

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Brent, you might find it helpful to adapt some new thinking when using the SV technique. All your conventional cooking experience isn’t particularly helpful with SV. Get the habit of using your thermometer as part of every SV cook. It will support your achieving precise and consistent results.

When searing remember you are using cooked meat so you can’t approach the task as you would with raw.

Do well and keep safe.

I’ve made this recipe any times and it’s the only way I enjoy pork tenderloin. I would strongly recommend letting the pork cool down before browning. Otherwise, you’re driving up the internal temp well above 130F during those few minutes in the pan.

The other recommendation is to salt well in advance to get some level of dry brining effect. That will improve taste, moisture and texture.

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Here is what I do and love the results. After trimming the silverskin I rub them with dijon mustard. Put them in a vac bag and into 60C water for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. I initially used a prob thermometer to determine the time it took to internally reach 59C.

Pat dry then a brief sear in hot canola oil. Cut into 1/2 inch rounds and spoon sauce of your choice. Demi glace or a blackberry sauce works well. Serve with pan fried apple cubes.

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Pork is an interesting meat. I cook thick pork chops (bone in) @ 140 for 90 minutes, before searing in cast iron.

Buttery is a varied perception.

If you do a sear to create a crisp (mallaird effect) crust and do not overdo it, you should achieve a very tender piece of meat.

If you lower the sear temp looking for more tenderness and moisture you will dry out your meat and toughen it.

Pork is a balancing act, particularly for lean cuts.

KD, it’s not so much a balancing act but a precise attention to details is necessary to achieve a superior Maillard or browning reaction.

We are seeking to achieve some sweetness and a nutty flavour that occurs at a surface temperature of 350F/175C after about 30 seconds. To achieve that temperature this cook heats a cast iron skillet to about 450F/200C, then adds the meat. That’s because the meat will immediately reduce the pan’s surface temperature to about the target temperature.

It’s excessive high heat and not a lower searing temperature that will dry and toughen meat. A lower temperature will require a significantly longer time to achieve the same degree of browning. The Maillard reaction can occur as low as 265F/130C, but produces a more stew-like flavour that the ideal roast meat flavour and aroma of the higher temperature.

Pork tenderloin is the equivalent cut of filet mignon. If you take a cue from filet mignon, it’s often served in restaurants wrapped in bacon, so I wonder if adding a bit of lard to the sous vide bag may help; oh heck, just add a chunk of bacon.

Furrier, we are discussing the use of the low temperature SV technique with pork. Restaurants quickly grill a bacon wrapped filet mignon at an extremely high temperature.

A bit of lard added to the cooking bag will have no benefit other than to make the fluids fattier. A chunk of bacon will have much the same result other than adding a hint of smoky flavour.

A little late here, but as chatnoir says, merely adding lard (or bacon) to the sous vide won’t make any difference. On the other hand, wrapping the pork tenderloin in bacon, tying with string, and then giving it a quick pan sear on each side to crisp up the bacon after you sous vide works great. I also will butterfly the tenderloin prior to cooking, salt the interior and spread quickly-softened garlic and herbs (finely chopped rosemary works well) on the inside before tying to amp up the flavor, since tenderloin is pretty bland on it’s own.

I assume you guys have tried adding lard, right?

I’ve used lard for pork carnitas using shoulder and duck fat for confit, among many other dishes, so I’ve cooked with fat quite a bit. When working with pure fat, it’s purpose is primarily around heat transfer, not flavor, and you’re already accomplishing the heat transfer bit with sous vide. Bacon will add a lot more flavor, which is why it is popular with the relatively flavorless filet mignon, and I recommend it above in my suggestions for searing with tenderloin.

If you want to give lard a try with the pork tenderloin, let us know how it goes.