How to Trim Pork Tenderloin and Prepare It For Cooking
The trick to pork tenderloin is to prepare it before cooking by making it of even thickness and removing the silver skin. Here’s how. [Photo Tutorial]
I have a post here on Cook the Story about how to roast pork and it gets tons of questions and comments. I often get asked about different cuts and how to prepare and cook those, whether it’s the same for the big pork roast I was dealing with as it is for other cuts. My answer depends on the cut of pork in question. If the cut is pork tenderloin, the answer is definitely no.
Pork tenderloin needs to be treated differently from other kinds of pork roasts. It’s too small and too lean to stand up to any kind of long, slow cooking the way that a pork butt or pork shoulder can.
But, it is those factors, that it’s small and lean, that make pork tenderloin such a convenient and simple cut of meat to cook. There are just a couple of things that you need to do to make it turn out well. The first has to do with something called the “silver skin,” which you need to remove. The second has to do with getting the tenderloin to be of equal thickness. It’s all really easy though. Don’t worry. We’ve got this!
Lay your pork tenderloin on a cutting board. Turn it over and have a look. You’ll notice that one side has a white skin on it. If you look closely, you’ll see that it’s kind of shiny, which is why it’s called silver skin. If you leave it on the tenderloin, it will be tough and chewy in those spots. It’s easy to remove though. Here’s how:
Get out a boning knife and slip it between the silver skin and the meat.
Actually, the above picture isn’t quite right. You want to start with the blade pointing the other way so that you can cut the skin away from the meat. That way, you’ll have a bit of skin to hold onto while you work. Like this.
Now all you do is hold the skin with one hand while working the knife along the skin. Keep the blade tilted upwards a bit, as shown, so that you’re staying very close to the skin and not removing the actual meat. Once you’ve removed all of the skin, you’re done with this step. You can also remove any bits of fat or sinew if you’d like but it’s not required. If you want a video demonstration of how the silver skin is removed, check this out.
The only other thing to do is to make your tenderloin of equal thickness. What do I mean? If you look at your tenderloin, you’ll see that one end is much thinner than the other. If you just cooked it as is, that thin end will be dry before the thick end cooks through. To avoid this dryness possibility, simply fold up the thin end so that it’s doubled a bit there. Then secure it. If you’re grilling, the best thing to do is to secure it with metal skewers (they won’t burn). But if you’re baking the tenderloin, then butcher’s twine or wooden toothpicks work just fine.
There you have it, a trimmed and ready pork tenderloin. You can grill or bake it. I’m going to show you how to do both in the days ahead so stay tuned.
- 1 (1.25 pound) pork tenderloin
- a boning knife
- metal skewers, butcher’s twine or wooden toothpicks
- Get out a boning knife and slip it between the silver skin and the meat. Make a cut such that the skin is free from the meat in one place.
- Hold the skin with one hand where you cut it free from the meat. Work the knife away from your hand, cutting the skin away form the meat as you go. Keep the blade tilted upwards a bit, so that you’re staying very close to the skin and not removing the actual meat. Repeat with all of the skin until none is left. You can also remove any bits of fat or sinew if you’d like but it’s not required.
- Next, make your tenderloin of equal thickness by folding up the thinner end end so that it’s doubled a bit there. Your goal is for the length of the pork tenderloin to be of fairly equal thickness. Secure the doubled up part: If you’re grilling, the best thing to do is to secure it with metal skewers (they won’t burn). But if you’re baking the tenderloin, then butcher’s twine or wooden toothpicks work just fine.
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