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Perfect Pan-Seared Pork Tenderloin Steaks for Two

Published March 2018

Why This Recipe Works

For pork tenderloin that was well browned, we began by lightly pounding the pork to create two flat sides that would be easy to sear. Halving the tenderloins crosswise created moderately sized steaks that were easy to maneuver. We placed the pork on a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet to raise it off the hot sheet and help it cook evenly. Slowly cooking the pork in a low oven ensured that the meat cooked evenly from edge to edge so that every bite was moist and tender. For great browning, we made sure to pat the pork very dry before searing it in a hot skillet.

Ingredients

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1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin, trimmed
Kosher salt and pepper
1 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil

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Instructions

Serves 2

We prefer natural pork in this recipe. If using enhanced pork (injected with a salt solution), reduce the salt in step 2 to ¼ teaspoon per steak. Open the oven as infrequently as possible in step 2. If the meat is not yet up to temperature, wait at least 5 minutes before taking its temperature again. Serve the steaks with Scallion-Ginger Relish, if desired.

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 275 degrees. Set wire rack in rimmed baking sheet and lightly spray rack with vegetable oil spray.

2. Pound tenderloin to 1-inch thickness. Halve tenderloin crosswise to create 2 steaks. Sprinkle each steak with ½ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon pepper. Place steaks on prepared wire rack and cook until meat registers between 137 and 140 degrees, 25 to 35 minutes.

3. Move steaks to 1 side of rack. Line cleared side with double layer of paper towels. Transfer steaks to paper towels, cover with another double layer of paper towels, and let stand for 10 minutes.

4. Pat steaks until surfaces are very dry. Heat oil in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Increase heat to high, place steaks in skillet, and sear until well browned on both sides, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to carving board and let stand for 5 minutes. Slice steaks against grain ¾ inch thick and transfer to serving platter. Season with salt to taste, and serve.

Technique: Sous Vide

1. HEAT WATER TO PRECISE TEMPERATURE: Using sous vide circulator, bring 4 quarts water (water should be 4 inches deep) to 140°F/60°C in 7-quart Dutch oven or similar-size heatproof container.


WHY? A sous vide circulator brings the water to the exact ideal doneness temperature of the food. Since the food can’t exceed the temperature of the water in which it is submerged, there is no risk of overcooking.

2. PUT MEAT IN BAG WITH OIL: Pound two 1-pound pork tenderloins to 1-inch thickness. Halve each tenderloin crosswise to create 4 steaks total. Sprinkle each steak with ½ teaspoon kosher salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Place steaks and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in 1-gallon zipper-lock freezer bag.


WHY? Oil conducts heat better than air and therefore helps the meat cook evenly. It also keeps the steaks from sticking together.

3. REMOVE AIR FROM BAG: Seal bag, pressing out as much air as possible.


WHY? Removing air from the bag is critical because air is a poor conductor of heat and slows cooking. In fact, sous vide is French for “under vacuum” and references the removal of air from the bag.

4. SUBMERGE BAG: Gently lower bag into water bath until pork is submerged, then clip top corner of bag to side of pot, allowing remaining air bubbles to rise to top of bag. Open 1 corner of zipper, release air bubbles, and reseal bag. Cover pot with plastic wrap and cook pork for at least 1 hour or up to 2 hours.


WHY? Properly submerging the food ensures even cooking. Securing the food to the container keeps it away from the circulator’s intake/outtake areas.

5. DRY MEAT: Line wire rack with double layer of paper towels and place in rimmed baking sheet. Transfer steaks to paper towels, cover with another double layer of paper towels, and let stand for 10 minutes. Pat steaks until surfaces are very dry.


WHY? The meat will be somewhat wet when you remove it from the sous vide bag. Thoroughly drying the pork steaks with double layers of paper towels eliminates moisture that would impede browning.

6. SEAR MEAT: Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Increase heat to high, place steaks in skillet, and sear until well browned on both sides, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to carving board and let stand for 5 minutes. Slice steaks against grain ¾ inch thick and transfer to serving platter. Season with salt to taste, and serve.


WHY? Searing creates the deeply flavorful browned crust that sous vide cooking doesn’t produce.