Pork tenderloin is a popular cut of meat that is known for its tenderness and versatility in cooking.
But have you ever wondered where exactly on the pig this delicious cut comes from?
In this article, we’ll explore the anatomy of a pig and discover the location of the pork tenderloin.
From the differences between pork loin and pork tenderloin to the various cuts available from the loin, we’ll cover everything you need to know about this flavorful cut of meat.
So grab a seat and get ready to learn about the origins of pork tenderloin!
Where Does Pork Tenderloin Come From On A Pig?
Pork tenderloin is a long, thin cut of meat that is taken from the muscle that runs along the backbone of a pig. This muscle is known as the psoas major muscle and is located ventral to the lumbar vertebrae.
Unlike other muscles in the pig’s body, the psoas major muscle is not used for locomotion but rather for posture. This lack of use makes it one of the most tender parts of the animal, which is why pork tenderloin is so highly prized by chefs and home cooks alike.
It’s important to note that pork tenderloin should not be confused with pork loin, which is a wider and flatter cut of meat that can be boneless or bone-in. Pork loin comes from the back of the pig and can be roasted or cut into individual chops or cutlets.
The Anatomy Of A Pig: Understanding The Different Cuts Of Meat
To understand where pork tenderloin comes from on a pig, it’s essential to have a basic understanding of the pig’s anatomy and the different cuts of meat. The pig is initially divided into four main pieces, also known as “primal cuts.” These are the shoulder, loin, side/belly, and leg. Each of these primal cuts is then further divided into sub-primal cuts, resulting in the various steaks, chops, and roasts that we see at the butcher or grocery store.
The psoas major muscle is located in the loin primal cut of the pig. This muscle runs along the backbone of the pig and is not used for locomotion but rather for posture. Because it is not used as frequently as other muscles in the pig’s body, it is one of the most tender parts of the animal. This is why pork tenderloin, which is taken from this muscle, is so highly prized by chefs and home cooks.
It’s important to note that pork tenderloin should not be confused with pork loin, which comes from the same primal cut but is a wider and flatter cut of meat that can be boneless or bone-in. Pork loin can be roasted or cut into individual chops or cutlets.
In addition to the loin primal cut, there are three other main primal cuts: the shoulder, belly/side, and leg. The shoulder encompasses the front portion of the hog and includes the upper part of this primal cut called the butt and the front leg called the picnic. The belly/side is the bottom portion of the middle of the hog and is sometimes called the side. It’s the fattiest portion of the hog. Finally, the leg primal cut includes the hog’s hind leg and rump and is where ham comes from.
It’s important to note that while there are between four and six primal cuts in total, depending on geography and butchering traditions, each country may have different names and extents for each cut. Additionally, there are many sub-primal cuts that come from each primal cut, resulting in a wide variety of pork cuts available for consumption.
What Is Pork Tenderloin? The Difference Between Pork Loin And Pork Tenderloin
While pork tenderloin and pork loin may sound similar, they are actually different cuts of meat with distinct characteristics. Pork tenderloin is a long and narrow cut of meat that is boneless and comes from the muscle that runs along the backbone of the pig. On the other hand, pork loin is wider and flatter, and can be boneless or bone-in. Pork loin comes from the back of the pig.
In terms of appearance, pork tenderloin is thin and small, while pork loin is wide enough to be cut into steak-like pieces. However, the main difference between the two cuts is in how they are cooked. Pork tenderloin is best cooked quickly over high heat, while pork loin lends itself well to slow-roasting or grilling methods.
Both pork tenderloin and pork loin are lean cuts of meat that come from the loin muscle of the pig. However, due to their different sizes and cooking methods, they cannot be used interchangeably in recipes.
Where Does Pork Tenderloin Come From On A Pig? Locating The Cut
To locate the pork tenderloin on a pig, one must first look for the psoas major muscle. This muscle runs along the backbone of the pig, starting at the lumbar vertebrae and extending to the upper thigh.
The pork tenderloin is taken from the rear of this muscle, specifically from the narrowest part of the muscle near the hip bone. It is a long and slender cut of meat, usually weighing around one pound.
It’s important to handle pork tenderloin with care during preparation, as it is a delicate cut of meat. It can be grilled, roasted, or pan-seared to perfection, and is often seasoned with herbs and spices to enhance its natural flavor.
How To Choose And Prepare Pork Tenderloin: Tips And Tricks For Cooking Success
When it comes to choosing pork tenderloin, it’s important to look for good quality meat. Opt for outdoor-reared, free-range or organic pork, as intensively-reared pork can be dry and tasteless. Additionally, make sure to remove any excess fatty skin and silver skin from the tenderloin before cooking for a better texture and flavor.
To prepare the pork tenderloin, you can marinate it with olive oil and a dry rub of your choice. A mixture of salt and sugar is a great option for seasoning and caramelization, while dry rubs help to keep the meat moist and form a crisp crust. Alternatively, you can season the pork tips with sriracha seasoning, pepper, garlic, chile flakes and salt to taste before chilling for an hour or overnight.
When it comes to cooking pork tenderloin, there are several methods to choose from. Roasting and baking are two common techniques, with roasting involving cooking at a high temperature in added fat such as cooking oil, while baking utilizes the fat already within the food by cooking at lower temperatures. Regardless of the method you choose, make sure to cook the pork tenderloin until it reaches an internal temperature of 145°F. This ensures that the meat is safe to eat while still remaining juicy and flavorful.
Lastly, once the pork tenderloin is cooked, let it rest for at least 5-10 minutes before carving into thick slices. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat and helps to retain its moisture. You can also make a quick pan sauce by deglazing the pan with white wine and adding cold butter until it melts.
By following these tips and tricks, you can ensure that your pork tenderloin is cooked to perfection every time.
Other Cuts From The Loin: Exploring The Versatility Of Pork Loin In Cooking
Pork loin is a versatile cut of meat that can be used in a variety of dishes. In addition to pork chops, there are several other cuts that come from the loin, including the tenderloin, center-cut roast, and sirloin roast.
Pork tenderloin, as mentioned earlier, is a thin and long cut of meat that comes from the same area as the pork loin. It is incredibly tender and can be cooked quickly on high heat. This makes it an excellent choice for grilling, roasting, or pan-searing. Pork tenderloin can be seasoned with a variety of spices and herbs to add flavor, and it pairs well with a wide range of sauces and sides.
The center-cut roast is a boneless cut that comes from the center of the pork loin. It is a lean cut of meat that can be roasted in the oven or cooked on the grill. The center-cut roast is also an excellent choice for stuffing with herbs, spices, and other ingredients.
The sirloin roast comes from the back end of the pork loin and is a larger cut of meat than the center-cut roast. It is also lean and can be roasted in the oven or cooked on the grill. The sirloin roast can be sliced into steaks or used as a whole roast.
No matter which cut of pork loin you choose, it’s important to remember that they are all lean cuts of meat that require careful cooking to avoid drying out. Using a meat thermometer to check for doneness is always recommended. With some practice and experimentation, you can discover the many ways to use pork loin in your cooking repertoire.