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Weeknight Supper: Pork Tenderloin with Apples and Onions

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Pork Tenderloin with Apples and Onions is an easy dish for a weeknight supper. First, you have to know what to buy. All four-legged animals have a muscle, called the loin, that runs along either side of the backbone. In a steer, this muscle represents itself as a rib-eye in the rib section and with a pig, it’s center-cut pork chop, around the waist of a pig — if a pig had a waist.

The legs get much more exercise, are less tender, and are best prepared with low and slow, longer cooking times. Think pot roast, stews, and pulled pork made from the shoulder. (There are several different types of ribs – for more information, check out my Five Great Recipes for BBQ ribs.) The loin muscle doesn’t get much exercise and therefore it is fairly tender and appropriate for shorter cooking times. Think steaks and chops. The tenderloin is below the loin and gets even less exercise.

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Get the Skinny

The skinnier, more tapered end of the pork tenderloin known as the tail, starts around the back of the rib cage and ends in the sirloin area, nearest the hips. This muscle gets even less exercise than the loin and is even more tender, hence its name. Pork tenderloin is great for a weeknight supper. It’s also is one of the leanest and most tender cuts of pork. That means dinner you can feel good about! It has a mild flavor, so it’s best when prepared with an added spice rub, marinade, stuffing or flavorful sauce or side, like these sauteed apples and onions.

What to Buy

Typically, pork tenderloin weighs between ¾ and 1 ½ pounds. Make sure to look closely at the package when you are buying the tenderloin. Some of the packaged tenderloins that are labeled “natural” have up to 30 percent added “flavor solution,” which basically means you are paying for water and salt. Stay clear of the pre-made marinated ones, as well. It’s just more salt. The way I look at it is that you’re better off brining it yourself.

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How to remove the Silverskin

Once you remove the pork tenderloin from its packaging you will see a silver to white connective tissue on one side of the meat called silverskin or fell. The correct anatomical name for this is fascia, a membrane that holds together the muscle bundles. It does not add any flavor, doesn’t dissolve, and can be tough when cooked.

To remove the silverskin: insert the tip of a sharp boning knife just under the membrane about 1/2 inch from the edge or end of the pork tenderloin where it begins or ends. Concentrate on keeping the knife closer to the membrane than the meat and pulling up slightly with the knife, run the knife along the length of meat to remove. Repeat the process until no silver skin remains.

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What Temperature to Cook Pork

All pork must be sufficiently cooked to eliminate disease-causing parasites and bacteria. Humans may contract trichinosis, caused by a parasite, by eating undercooked pork. (Truth is this is seldom found in pigs in the US and more often in wild game, but better safe than sorry.) However, today’s pork can be safely enjoyed when cooked to an internal temperature of 145° F followed by a 3-minute rest as measured with a food thermometer. The meat will be pale pink, moist, and tender. That means it will be a little pink. It’s okay! If your family is dubious, just cover it with the apples and onions. 😉

Thanks so much for reading. Let me know what you think if you give my Pork Tenderloin with Apples and Onions a try!

Bon Appétit Y’all!

Virginia Willis

Pork with Apples and Onions

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Virginia Willis

Georgia-born French-trained Chef Virginia Willis’ biography includes making chocolate chip cookies with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, foraging for berries in the Alaskan wilderness, harvesting capers in the shadow of a smoldering volcano in Sicily, and hunting for truffles in France. She is talent and chef-instructor for the digital streaming platform Food Network Kitchen. Her segments feature authentic and innovative Southern cooking. She was the celebrity chef at the Mansion at Churchill Downs for the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby. Virginia has spoken at SXSW, cooked for the James Beard Foundation, and beguiled celebrities such as Bill Clinton, Morgan Freeman, and Jane Fonda with her cooking — but it all started in her grandmother’s country kitchen. Recently, her work has been inspired by her weight loss success story, Virginia has lost 65# and kept it off for over 2 1/2 years! “If a French-trained, Southern chef can do it, you can, too.” She is the author of Fresh Start; Secrets of the Southern Table; Lighten Up, Y’all; Bon Appétit, Y’all; Basic to Brilliant, Y’all; Okra; and Grits. Lighten Up, Y’all won a James Beard Foundation Award of Excellence in the Focus on Health Category. Lighten Up, Y’all as well as her first cookbook, Bon Appétit, Y’all, were finalists in the Best American Cookbook for the International Association of Cookbook Awards and were also named by the Georgia Center of the Book as “Books Georgians Should Read.” She is the former TV kitchen director for Martha Stewart Living, Bobby Flay, and Nathalie Dupree; has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants; and traveled the world producing food stories – from making cheese in California to escargot farming in France. She has appeared on Food Network’s Chopped, CBS This Morning, Fox Family and Friends, Martha Stewart Living, and as a judge on Throwdown with Bobby Flay. She’s been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, People Magazine, Eater, and Food52 and has contributed to Eating Well, GRLSQUASH, Culture, Garden & Gun, and Bon Appétit, and more. The Chicago Tribune praised her as one of “Seven Food Writers You Need to Know.” Her legion of fans loves her down-to-earth attitude, approachable spirit, and traveling exploits. Her culinary consulting company, Virginia Willis Culinary Enterprises, Inc specializes in content creation, recipe development, culinary editorial and production services, cookbook writing, media training, spokesperson and brand representation, and public speaking. Virginia is on the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Blue Ribbon Task Force, the Atlanta Community Food Bank Advisory Board, as well as the Community Farmers Market Advisory Board. She is a food and hunger advocate for No Kid Hungry and a premier member of the No Kid Hungry Atlanta Society. She a member of The James Beard Foundation, Chef’s Collaborative, Georgia Organics, and Southern Foodways Alliance.

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