There’s nothing quite like a perfectly cooked cast iron pork tenderloin, seared to perfection and finished off in the oven for a juicy, tender bite. Follow these 8 tips to master this delicious dish and elevate your home cooking game.
Cast iron cookware has been around for centuries, and for good reason. It’s durable, versatile, and retains heat extremely well, making it perfect for searing meats and creating flavorful dishes. Plus, with proper care, a cast iron skillet can last a lifetime!
Cooking a pork tenderloin in a cast iron skillet offers several benefits. First, the even heat distribution of the skillet ensures a beautiful crust on the outside while keeping the inside tender and juicy. Second, transferring the skillet from stovetop to oven allows for a seamless cooking process, locking in flavors and reducing the risk of overcooking. Finally, the versatility of cast iron cookware means you can experiment with various spice blends and ingredients to create your perfect pork tenderloin dish.
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8 Tips for Perfectly Cooking a Cast Iron Pork Tenderloin
Prepare the Pork Tenderloin
Start by removing any excess fat or silver skin from the tenderloin. This will help ensure even cooking and prevent any tough or chewy bites. Pat the pork dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture, which will allow for a better sear.
Apply a Dry Rub
Choose your favorite spice blend or create your own using fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, or sage. Apply the rub evenly over the entire surface of the pork tenderloin, pressing it into the meat to ensure it sticks. The spices will not only add flavor but also help to form a beautiful crust during the searing process.
Heat the Cast Iron Skillet
Place the skillet over medium-high heat on the stovetop and allow it to become very hot. This is crucial for achieving a proper sear on the pork. If desired, add a small amount of oil to the skillet to prevent sticking, although a well-seasoned cast iron skillet should be relatively non-stick on its own.
Sear the Pork Tenderloin
Once the skillet is heated, carefully add the pork tenderloin to the pan. Sear each side for about 2-3 minutes or until a golden-brown crust has formed. Be sure to sear all sides, as pork tenderloin is triangular in shape. Remember, the goal here is not to cook the pork all the way through but to create a flavorful crust that will enhance the overall dish.
Preheat the Oven
While searing the pork, preheat your oven to 425°F (220°C). This high temperature will ensure that the pork finishes cooking quickly and retains its juicy, tender texture.
Roast the Pork Tenderloin
Transfer the skillet with the seared pork tenderloin to the preheated oven. Roast for 8-10 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat reads 145°F (63°C). This is the USDA-recommended medium-rare temperature for pork. Keep in mind that the pork will continue to cook as it rests, so it’s important not to overcook it at this stage.
Check Internal Temperature with a Meat Thermometer
Use a digital meat thermometer to ensure the pork reaches the desired internal temperature of 145°F (63°C). Remove the pork from the oven and the skillet immediately to slow down the cooking process, as the cast iron skillet will retain heat and continue to cook the meat if left inside.
Let the Pork Tenderloin Rest
Transfer the pork tenderloin to a cutting board or serving platter and loosely cover with foil. Allow it to rest for about 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving. This resting period allows the juices to redistribute within the meat, resulting in a more flavorful and tender bite.
Pair your perfectly cooked cast iron pork tenderloin with some delicious side dishes. Some popular options include garlic mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, or a simple green salad. The possibilities are endless!
Consider serving your pork tenderloin with a refreshing salad or yogurt dressing to add an extra layer of flavor and brightness to the dish. A tangy, herbaceous dressing can help to balance the richness of the pork and create a well-rounded meal.
What is the best method of cooking pork tenderloin? The best method for cooking pork tenderloin is to sear it on all sides in a skillet before finishing it in a 400-degree Fahrenheit oven for 20-25 minutes, ensuring a juicy and flavorful result.
Should I sear my pork tenderloin before putting it in the oven?
Yes, searing your pork tenderloin on all sides in a skillet before baking it in the oven will create a delicious crust and lock in the juices, resulting in a more flavorful and tender dish.
How do you cook a pork tenderloin without drying out?
To prevent your pork tenderloin from drying out, cook it at a high temperature (425°F) for a short time (15-20 minutes), and use a meat thermometer to ensure it reaches an internal temperature of 145°F before removing it from the oven.
Is it better to cook a pork tenderloin at 350 or 400?
It is better to cook a pork tenderloin at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, as this higher temperature allows for quicker cooking and helps to retain the meat’s juiciness and tenderness.
By following these 8 tips, you’ll be well on your way to mastering the art of cooking a cast iron pork tenderloin. Remember to prepare the meat, apply a dry rub, heat the skillet properly, sear and roast, check the internal temperature, and let the pork rest before serving. With a little practice, you’ll be the star of your next dinner party or family gathering with this delicious and impressive dish!