The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

Brined Pork Tenderloin

October 29th, 2009 · 1 Comment · Posted in dinner, Recipes

Great choice for a fall menu

Great choice for a fall menu

The menu my wife devised for a recent catered dinner party included a pork tenderloin brined, then grilled. The pork was so outstanding–as evidenced by guests visiting the kitchen to make comments–I thought the process was worth sharing.

There’s nothing really new about brining meats to infuse flavor, but pork seems to benefit especially. This particular recipe comes from “Chez Panisse Cooking,” writtten by Paul Bertolli with Alice Waters. Bertolli knows his way around meats. They suggest the brine for a roast loin of pork, noting that they prefer the shoulder blade end of the loin “cut from just behind the shoulder and nine ribs down.” This particular cut is solid muscle, not much separation or connective tissue.

We simply substituted tenderloin, which also is a solid muscle.

For the brine:

3/4 cup additive-free kosher salt

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 gallon ice water

20 whole juniper berries

20 whole allspice berries

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

1 leafy stalk celery, thinly sliced

1 medium carrot, thinly sliced

1/4 yellow onions, thinly sliced

3 sprigs thyme

3 sprigs parsley

3 bay leaves

In a large bowl, dissolve the salt and sugar in the water. Crack the juniper, allspice and pepper in a mortar. Add the vegetables, herbs and spices to the water. Place your pork in a clean, non-reactive container (we used a large, lidded plastic food storage container) and pour the brine over the meat. The meat should be completely submerged. Sometimes I use an inverted ceramic bowl to weigh the meat down. Cover and refrigerate two or three days for tenderloin, five days for a larger pork loin.

If you are grilling the meat, make sure to pat it completely dry with paper towels after removing it from the brine. We like to cook ours to a rosy pink, or an internal temperature of around 137 degrees. The temperature will usually rise a few degrees more while the meat is resting on a cutting board. Let it rest 15 minutes or so before serving.

My wife served this with red cabbage braised with Riesling wine and mashed rutabaga topped with fried shallots. A perfect fall menu.

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  • The Wife

    Actually, I used a brine from the first Chez Panisse cookbook, “Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook”, page 132. The recipe is similar but a little easier ingredient-wise. It’s for a six pound pork loin. As Ed said, we substituted six pounds of pork tenderloin.

    1/2 cup sugar
    1/4 cup salt
    about 2 gallons of warm water
    5 corriander seeds
    10 to 12 black peppercorns
    5 juniper berries
    6 to 8 bay leaves
    2 to 3 sprigs fresh thyme
    2 to 3 sprigs fresh marjoram

    Dissolve the sugar and salt in the warm water. Slightly crush the herbs and berries in a mortar. Stir them into the brine. When it’s cool add the loin to it. The meat must be completely submerged; put weights on top of a plate if necessary. Refrigerate the loin for 2 days.