Are you a fan of wild game meat? If so, you may have heard of pork backstrap, also known as tenderloin.
This cut of meat is highly sought after by hunters and foodies alike for its tender texture and delicious flavor. But what exactly is pork backstrap, and how can you prepare it to perfection?
In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of this delectable cut of meat and share some tips for cooking it to perfection.
So grab your apron and let’s get started!
What Is Pork Backstrap?
Pork backstrap, also known as tenderloin, is a cut of meat that comes from the pig’s back. It is a long, narrow muscle that runs along the spine and is considered one of the most tender cuts of pork.
While pork backstrap can be obtained from domestic pigs, it is also commonly harvested from wild hogs. In fact, wild hogs are considered an invasive species in many parts of the United States and provide ample hunting opportunities for those looking to obtain this delicious meat.
Pork backstrap is a lean cut of meat with less fat than domestic pork. It has a dark color and a tight grain, which means it requires proper cooking to ensure it remains tender and juicy.
Where Can You Find Pork Backstrap?
Pork backstrap, or tenderloin, is located along the pig’s spine, towards the top of the animal, opposite of the loin. It is a long and narrow muscle that is typically around 2 pounds in weight and yields from a 300-pound pig.
Pork backstrap can be found at most butcher shops and grocery stores. It is also possible to obtain it from wild hogs through hunting or specialty meat suppliers. When purchasing pork backstrap, it is important to look for meat that has a deep red color and is firm to the touch.
In addition to its tenderness and flavor, pork backstrap is also a healthy choice. It is a great source of protein and contains essential vitamins and minerals. When cooking pork backstrap, it is recommended to use high heat and quick cooking methods such as grilling or pan-searing to preserve its tenderness and juiciness.
Nutritional Benefits Of Pork Backstrap
Pork backstrap is not only delicious, but it also offers several nutritional benefits. It is an excellent source of high-quality protein, which is essential for building and repairing muscle mass. This makes it an ideal food for athletes and bodybuilders who need to maintain and grow their muscle mass.
In addition to protein, pork backstrap is rich in several essential vitamins and minerals. It is a good source of thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, and phosphorus. These vitamins are crucial for maintaining healthy brain function, promoting energy production, and supporting the immune system.
Moreover, pork backstrap is a good source of zinc and potassium. Zinc is essential for maintaining healthy skin, hair, and nails, while potassium helps regulate blood pressure and supports heart health.
Pork backstrap is also a lean cut of meat with low levels of saturated fat. This makes it an excellent choice for those who are watching their fat intake or trying to maintain a healthy weight.
How To Prepare Pork Backstrap
Preparing pork backstrap is a simple process that can be done in a few easy steps. First, remove the backstrap from any water solution it may have been stored in and pat it dry with paper towels.
Next, remove the pork tenderloin joint from its packaging, pat it dry and bring it to room temperature. Preheat your oven to 200°C temperature fan assisted or 215°C.
Season the joint just prior to roasting and choose a large, heavy-based roasting tray, ideally with deep sides and handles for easy movement. Massage the backstrap with a little olive oil, duck or goose fat. Alternatively, wrap it in very thin slices of pancetta and season with good quality fine sea salt if not using the pancetta.
Next, fry the tenderloin on all sides creating a rich golden color in a non-stick fry pan. Make a trivet by roughly chopping equal amounts of onion, carrot and celery or celeriac, the root of the celery plus a bay leaf, sprig of thyme and a few black peppercorns. Another nice addition can be a Bramley apple peeled and quartered to the trivet.
Place the pork onto the trivet which should line the base of the roasting tray. Place in the center of the oven and roast for 20 minutes reaching a core temperature of minimum 68°C.
Remove from oven and pop onto a clean tray and keep warm by covering with a sheet of tin foil then resting for a minimum of 10 minutes before carving, leaving the roasted vegetables in the tray.
For the gravy, make up 300ml of essential cuisine chicken stock, then deglaze roasting tray with this stock stirring all the caramelized juices from the tray. Then pass through a fine sieve pushing all the juices from the vegetables into a clean saucepan, bring to the simmer and thicken if required by whisking in a teaspoon of cornflour mixed with a little cold water and reduce until you reach a rich glossy gravy.
By following these simple steps, you can prepare pork backstrap to perfection and enjoy its delicious flavor and tenderness.
Cooking Tips For Pork Backstrap
Cooking pork backstrap requires some attention to detail to ensure that it remains tender and juicy. Here are some tips to help you cook pork backstrap perfectly:
1. Cook at a high temperature: To achieve a nice color and flavor on the outside of the pork backstrap, cook it at a high temperature. This will help to seal in the juices and keep the meat moist.
2. Use a thermometer: It is essential to use a thermometer to achieve the perfect temperature when cooking pork backstrap. The USDA recommends cooking pork to an internal temperature of 145°F. This will ensure that the meat is cooked through but still juicy.
3. Allow the meat to rest: After cooking, allow the pork backstrap to rest for a few minutes before cutting. This will allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, making it more tender and flavorful.
4. Brush with olive oil and herbs: Before cooking, brush the pork backstrap with olive oil and fresh herbs to add flavor and moisture.
5. Don’t overcook: Pork backstrap is a lean cut of meat and can become dry if overcooked. Be sure to watch it carefully and remove it from the heat as soon as it reaches the desired temperature.
By following these tips, you can cook pork backstrap to perfection and enjoy its tender, juicy flavor. Whether you are using domestic pork or wild hog, this delicious cut of meat is sure to impress your family and guests.
Serving Suggestions For Pork Backstrap
When it comes to serving pork backstrap, there are many delicious options to choose from. One classic pairing is with roasted vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, and onions. To prepare this dish, simply season the pork with your favorite herbs and spices, roast it in the oven, and serve it alongside the roasted vegetables.
Another popular option is to serve pork backstrap with a flavorful sauce. A simple yet delicious option is to make a pan sauce using the drippings from the cooked pork, adding in some chicken or beef broth, a splash of red wine, and some herbs like thyme or rosemary. This sauce can be poured over the sliced pork for added flavor.
For a lighter option, try serving sliced pork backstrap over a bed of mixed greens with a simple vinaigrette dressing. The tender meat pairs well with the fresh greens and tangy dressing.
If you’re feeling adventurous, consider trying a fusion dish like pork backstrap tacos. Season the meat with cumin and chili powder, grill it to perfection, and serve it in warm tortillas with fresh salsa, avocado, and lime.
No matter how you choose to serve it, pork backstrap is sure to be a crowd-pleaser at any meal. With its tender texture and mild flavor, it’s a versatile cut of meat that can be prepared in many different ways.