This is a simple recipe that will net you a whole bunch of pork.
More and more, in the supermarkets you can find shrink-wrapped pork tenderloins, many of them marinating in teriyaki or something else. Don’t get fancy! You want pork tenderloins that aren’t marinating in anything except their own tasty juices.
- 1 package of two Pork Tenderloins, about 1.5 lbs total . . . a larger one is fine too, you will just cook longer. This works for even those large ones (4-5 lbs)
- A few Bay Leaves
- 4 Shallots (a small onion will work too)
- 1 Clove Garlic
- 4 Sprigs Rosemary
- Small handful of Dried Fennel Seeds (optional)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Kosher Salt
- Freshly Ground Pepper
- Cooking string
Start by preheating the oven to 425 degrees.
If you have a large (2 burner) grill pan with a flat (non-ridged) side, get that heated up to medium high. This is optional.
Start with an earthenware (or metal) roasting dish, sized so that the pork will fit in it snugly lengthwise. Cut three lengths of cooking string, about a foot each, and lay them crosswise across the dish. Unwrap the pork and lay each tenderloin side by side, so it’s in a little hammock made of the string. You may need to adjust amount of strength if you have a giant tenderloin here.
If you have dried fennel seeds, bash them up in a mortar and pestle (or roll them really hard with a rolling pin) to crack them. Finely chop the garlic. Peel the shallots, and finely chop one. Slice the others in half lengthwise.
Place the two bay leaves on one tenderloin, glug some olive oil and balsamic vinegar on it, and sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper on it. Remove the leaves from one sprig of rosemary (by pulling against the grain of their growth with your finger) and scatter them across the tenderloin. Sprinkle a pinch of the fennel (if you have it) on top.
Now, take the tenderloin without anything on it, and place it on top of the one you’ve been loading up. You’re making a submarine sandwich, with the pork tenderloins as the bread. Now, tie each piece of string tightly, so it’ll hold together. Use any knots you like (I use a bow).
Optional: If you have the large grill pan, place the tenderloin on it and sear it on all sides, about 4 minutes per side. Don’t forget the ends — when you do that you will want to prop the tenderloin up with tongs.
Now, glug olive oil all over your tied-up pork. Roll it around to make sure it’s coated. Rub the garlic and diced shallots all over it, and sprinkle salt and pepper all over it, too. Finally, scatter another sprig’s worth of rosemary (again, removed from the stem) and the rest of the fennel on it. Using your hands, make sure it’s all coated with everything.
You can add and subtract ingredients here. Thyme is good. So is white pepper instead of black. Use your imagination, or just raid the cupboard.
Into the roasting dish, toss the shallots and two sprigs (whole) of rosemary. Glug one last glug of olive oil over it, and put it in the oven.
For a 1.5-lb package of tenderloin, it should take about 45 minutes. Every 20 minutes or so, glug another glug of olive oil over it and check the temperature. When an instant-read thermometer shows 150-155 degrees, remove it from the oven, and cover it with aluminum foil. Let it rest until the temperature reaches 160, about five to ten minutes. If you cut it before it rests, it’ll be dry and tough!
To serve, cut the strings and cut ¼” slices, fanning them out on people’s plates or on a serving plate. Drip some of the juices from the pan (don’t burn yourself) all over it.
Photo by @cajunjen