Pork tenderloin is a popular cut of meat that is known for its tenderness and mild flavor. However, if you’ve ever purchased pork tenderloin, you may have noticed that it often comes in two pieces.
This may leave you wondering why this is the case. In this article, we’ll explore the reasons behind why pork tenderloin is typically sold in two pieces and how you can use this knowledge to your advantage in the kitchen.
So grab a seat and get ready to learn all about this delicious cut of meat!
Why Does Pork Tenderloin Come In Two Pieces?
Pork tenderloin is a lean and tender cut of meat that is taken from the muscle that runs along the spine of the pig. This muscle is not used for movement, which is why it is so tender. However, because it is a smaller muscle, it is typically sold in two pieces.
The reason for this is simple: the pork tenderloin tapers at one end, which means that the thickness of the meat varies along its length. When cooked, this can result in uneven cooking and overcooked or undercooked portions.
To solve this problem, butchers will often cut the pork tenderloin into two pieces and then tie them together with butcher’s string. This creates a more uniform thickness throughout the cut, which makes for more even cooking.
Another benefit of tying two pork tenderloins together is that it creates a larger roast that can feed more people. This makes it a great option for entertaining or for feeding a larger family.
What Is Pork Tenderloin?
Pork tenderloin is a long, thin and boneless cut of meat that comes from the muscle along the central spine of the pig. It is sometimes referred to as pork filet, pork fillet, pork steak or Gentleman’s Cut. This cut of meat is one of the most tender cuts of pork due to the fact that it is not used for movement, but rather for posture.
Pork tenderloin is smaller in size compared to other cuts of pork, such as pork loin. It typically weighs between 1 to 1 1/2 pounds and is about two inches wide. Unlike other cuts of pork, it has very little marbling and fat cap, which means it takes less time to cook.
The flavor of pork tenderloin is mild and lean, and the meat is darker in color than other cuts of pork. However, it can easily overcook due to its lean nature. To prevent this, marinating the tenderloin beforehand can help it stay juicy and moist while cooking.
Pork tenderloin is best cooked using quick-cooking methods like grilling or pan-searing. Its smaller size means that it cooks faster than other cuts of pork, making it a perfect choice for a quick weeknight dinner. The internal temperature should be 145 degrees Fahrenheit, and the meat should still be slightly pink. Lastly, pork tenderloin should rest for several minutes before slicing to allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat.
The Anatomy Of Pork Tenderloin
To understand why pork tenderloin comes in two pieces, it’s important to understand its anatomy. The pork tenderloin is a long, narrow, and boneless cut of meat that comes from the muscle that runs along the backbone of the pig. This muscle is called the psoas major muscle and is located ventral to the lumbar vertebrae.
The pork tenderloin is the most tender part of the pig because it is not used for movement. This lack of use means that the muscle fibers are not as developed, resulting in a more tender cut of meat.
However, because the muscle tapers at one end, it can be difficult to cook evenly. This is why butchers will often cut the pork tenderloin into two pieces and tie them together with butcher’s string. This creates a more uniform thickness throughout the cut, which makes for more even cooking.
It’s also worth noting that pork tenderloin is different from pork loin, which is wider and flatter and can be a boneless or bone-in cut of meat. Pork loin comes from the back of the animal, while pork tenderloin comes from the muscle that runs along the backbone.
The Reason Behind Two Pieces
The reason behind pork tenderloin being sold in two pieces is due to the natural tapering of the muscle. This varying thickness can lead to uneven cooking and overcooked or undercooked portions. To ensure more uniform cooking, butchers will often cut the pork tenderloin into two pieces and tie them together with butcher’s string. This not only creates a more consistent thickness throughout the cut, but also creates a larger roast that can feed more people. This makes it a popular choice for entertaining or feeding a larger family. Additionally, tying two pork tenderloins together allows for more customization in terms of seasoning and flavoring, as each piece can be prepared differently before being tied together. Overall, the decision to sell pork tenderloin in two pieces is based on practicality and convenience for both the butcher and the consumer.
How To Cook Pork Tenderloin In Two Pieces
Cooking pork tenderloin in two pieces is a great way to ensure even cooking and create a larger roast. Here are three different methods for cooking pork tenderloin in two pieces:
1. Fusing two pork tenderloins together: This method involves scoring the flat side of both tenderloins and then tying them together with butcher’s string. Scoring the meat exposes the proteins in one tenderloin to those in the second tenderloin, which helps them more firmly adhere to each other. Although the two tenderloins might still separate slightly, the meat cooks more evenly. To sear the pork tenderloin, heat a cast iron or heavy-bottomed oven-safe pan over medium-high heat with oil. Sear the pork tenderloin for 3-4 minutes on each side until browned. Season with salt and pepper and finish roasting in the oven at 400°F for 25 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 145°F.
2. Grilling: Marinate your pork tenderloin or rub it with your favorite seasonings. Preheat the grill or grill pan over high heat. Once hot, place the tenderloins on the grill and sear over high heat, rotating every 1-2 minutes until well browned on all sides. Place the pork tenderloins in a baking dish and cover with tinfoil. Bake at 325°F for 18-25 minutes or until an internal temperature of between 145°F – 160°F is reached.
3. Baking: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Heat oil in a frying pan and brown the pork evenly on all sides. Place on a baking sheet and cook for 20-25 minutes or until an internal temperature of 145°F is reached.
No matter which method you choose, be sure to let the pork rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing to ensure that it stays moist and tender. Enjoy your perfectly cooked pork tenderloin in two pieces!
Tips For Buying And Storing Pork Tenderloin
When buying pork tenderloin, it’s important to look for meat that is firm and pink in color. Avoid meat that is discolored or has a strong odor, as this can indicate spoilage. It’s also best to buy pork tenderloin as fresh as possible, as it is a perishable item.
Once you’ve purchased your pork tenderloin, it’s important to store it properly to prevent spoilage and ensure that it stays fresh. Pork tenderloin should be kept in the refrigerator at a temperature below 40°F. It’s best to store uncooked pork items together and separate from cooked foods to prevent cross-contamination.
If you’re not planning on cooking your pork tenderloin within two to three days of purchase, it’s best to store it in the freezer. Pork tenderloin can be frozen for up to six months. When freezing, wrap the meat tightly in foil or freezer bags and label for ease of use.
When you’re ready to cook your pork tenderloin, plan ahead and give it roughly 12 to 14 hours to thaw in the refrigerator before cooking. It’s safe to cook frozen or partially frozen pork, but the cooking time may be about 50% longer. Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness and ensure that the internal temperature reaches at least 145°F.
Remember to always handle pork tenderloin with care and follow proper food safety guidelines to prevent foodborne illness. By buying and storing pork tenderloin correctly, you can enjoy this delicious and versatile cut of meat with peace of mind.