What Is Pork Backstrap? The Ultimate Guide

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 everything you need to know about this tasty cut of meat, from its origins to cooking tips and tricks.

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, thin muscle that runs along the spine, from the base of the neck to the hindquarters.

This cut of meat is highly prized for its tenderness and mild flavor. It is also very lean, with less fat than other cuts of pork. This makes it a healthy choice for those who are watching their fat intake.

The Origins Of Pork Backstrap

The origins of pork backstrap can be traced back to the anatomy of the pig. As with all quadrupeds, the tenderloin refers to the psoas major muscle along the central spine portion, ventral to the lumbar vertebrae. This muscle is not used for locomotion, but rather for posture, which makes it the most tender part of the animal.

While pork backstrap and pork loin both come from the back area of the pig, they are very different cuts of meat. Pork loin is sourced from higher up on the back and is a much larger, thicker cut than backstrap. It can be boneless or bone-in and is wider and flatter in shape. On the other hand, pork backstrap is a long, thin slice of muscle taken from along the edge of the backbone.

Despite their differences, both cuts are versatile and delicious when cooked properly. Pork backstrap is often marinated or seasoned before being grilled or roasted to perfection. It can be served as a main dish or sliced thin for sandwiches and salads. Its tender texture and mild flavor make it a favorite among pork lovers.

The Nutritional Value Of Pork Backstrap

Pork backstrap or tenderloin is a great source of protein, with 36 grams per 134-gram serving. It is also low in carbohydrates, containing only 0 grams of sugar and dietary fiber. Additionally, it is low in saturated fat, with only 1.9 grams per serving, making it a healthy choice for those looking to maintain a healthy diet.

Apart from protein, pork backstrap is also rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals. It contains 0.7 mg of iron per 3-ounce serving, which is more easily digestible than iron from plant foods. It is also high in thiamine, with 100 grams of pork backstrap containing 0.99 mg of thiamine, an essential B vitamin required for many body activities.

Pork backstrap is also an excellent source of selenium, with a 100-gram serving containing 12.4μg selenium, which accounts for around 18% of the daily value. This mineral is important for maintaining thyroid function and supporting the immune system.

In addition to selenium, pork backstrap is also a good source of zinc, an essential element required for a healthy brain and immune system. A 100-gram serving of pork backstrap contains 1 mg of zinc, contributing to 7% of the daily value.

Finally, pork backstrap is also high in vitamin B12, with a 100-gram serving providing 10% of the daily value. This nutrient is essential for maintaining healthy nerve cells and red blood cells.

How To Select And Store Pork Backstrap

When selecting pork backstrap, look for a cut that is a little over a pound in weight and about three to four inches in width. It should have very little visible fat and be a light pink color. Avoid any cuts that have a grayish tint or an off smell.

It’s best to cook pork backstrap soon after buying it, as it is a very lean cut of meat that can easily dry out. However, if you need to store it, it will keep for two to three days in the refrigerator. Any longer than that and it’s best to store it in the freezer, where it will keep for up to six months.

If you plan on freezing your pork backstrap, make sure to wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil before placing it in the freezer. This will help prevent freezer burn and keep the meat fresh.

When you’re ready to cook your pork backstrap, plan to give it roughly 12 to 14 hours to thaw in the refrigerator before cooking. You can also thaw it more quickly by placing it in a sealed plastic bag and submerging it in cold water.

To keep your pork backstrap moist during cooking, consider using a brine or marinade. This will infuse the meat with flavor and help prevent it from drying out. When cooking, remember that this cut of meat is best for quick roasting, broiling, grilling, sautéing, and braising. Keep an eye on the internal temperature and remove it from heat when it reaches 145-160 °F.

Cooking Pork Backstrap: Tips And Tricks

Cooking pork backstrap can be a bit intimidating, especially if you are not familiar with the cut. Here are some tips and tricks to help you cook the perfect pork backstrap:

1. Seasoning: Pork backstrap has a mild flavor, so it is important to season it well before cooking. Simple salt and pepper works great, but you can also add your favorite rubs and spices.

2. Searing: A good sear on the outside of the pork backstrap will add a ton of flavor. Start by searing it on top of the stove in a hot pan before finishing it in the oven or on the grill.

3. Cooking time: Pork backstrap is a lean cut of meat, so it cooks quickly. Plan on cooking it for 15-20 minutes max, turning every few minutes to ensure even cooking.

4. Internal temperature: The USDA recommends cooking pork to an internal temperature of 145°F followed by a 3-minute rest time at room temperature. This will ensure that your pork backstrap is juicy and tender.

5. Resting: After cooking, let your pork backstrap rest for 5 minutes before slicing and serving. This will allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat.

By following these tips and tricks, you can cook a delicious and juicy pork backstrap that will impress your family and friends. Whether you choose to grill or roast it in the oven, pork backstrap is a versatile cut of meat that is sure to be a hit at your next meal.

Delicious Pork Backstrap Recipes To Try At Home

If you’re looking for new and exciting ways to prepare pork backstrap, here are some delicious recipes to try at home:

1. Grilled Pork Backstrap with Chimichurri Sauce: Marinate the pork backstrap in a mixture of olive oil, garlic, and herbs for at least 30 minutes. Grill the meat over high heat until it is cooked through, then serve with a tangy chimichurri sauce made with parsley, garlic, and vinegar.

2. Slow Cooker Pork Backstrap with Apples and Onions: Brown the pork backstrap in a skillet, then transfer it to a slow cooker with sliced apples and onions. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, until the meat is tender and juicy. Serve with roasted vegetables for a hearty meal.

3. Pan-Seared Pork Backstrap with Mustard Cream Sauce: Season the pork backstrap with salt and pepper, then sear it in a hot skillet until browned on all sides. Remove the meat from the pan and make a quick cream sauce with Dijon mustard, white wine, and heavy cream. Pour the sauce over the pork backstrap and serve with mashed potatoes.

No matter how you choose to prepare pork backstrap, it is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. With its tender texture and mild flavor, it is a versatile cut of meat that can be used in a variety of dishes. Give these recipes a try and see for yourself just how delicious pork backstrap can be!