PORK TENDERLOIN QUESTION

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.

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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