Pork Tenderloin: Spice Galore

This post, long due but finally here never the less, it is not so much about the tenderloin, which is a great piece of meat but mostly for the propper use of spices and marinates/brines. I have spoken about it before but there still some miss conceptions and hazy teritory. And what a better way of talking than a nice juice piece of meat. And soon enough we will see that the selection of the meat was even more suitable.

As always I will start with the ingredient of the day. The tenderloin. That piece of meat is common in every four legged creature comes in pairs and lays in the inner rib cage right next to the spine (one in each side). The location of it does not really allow it to function much. It is there to help support the spine and protect the rib cage organs from damage. Its almost complete lack of functionality makes it very tender and therefore the name. In greek strictly translated, it means fish-kidney and that because of the shape (long like a trout), and the location (right on top of the kidneys). The modern pig has been bred to have very little fat in the muscle and therefore the tenderloin is one of the leanest cut of meats. Especially tenderloin from younger hogs, (bigger one usually became canadian bacon). It is actually so lean that competes and wins chicken breast and turkey, both in cholesterol and fat. The down side? Well the same thing exactly. The tenderloin is a piece of meat with very little fat and therefore it can dry out before you can say “tenderloin”.

Meat cuts like pork chops, pork shoulder and butt, have considerable amount of meat to keep them moist during long cooking times, making this ideal for cooking. The tenderloin, is so lean that will dry out if not cooked properly or if no juice is added to the meat. And that’s where the marinates and brines come too. Not only for flavor but also for juiciness. And what is the difference between marinate and brine? Good question!!!

Brine: It is a water based salt and sugar solution. Simple as this. Occasionally we can add some simple flavors like spices etc, but that ‘s all.
Marinate: It is a solution that contains water, oil, acid, spices, and depending on the recipe any other liquid… even milk.

So here after a long introduction are the ingredients. We are making a marinate, so we have all the aforementioned ingredients oil,


  • 1 tbsp Oregano
  • 1 tbsp Thyme
  • 1 tbsp Rosemary
  • 2 tbsp Coriander
  • 1 tbsp Smoked black pepper
  • 1 tbsp Cubeb pepper
  • 1 tsp Red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp Cumin
  • 1 tbsp Sweet paprika
  • 1 tbsp Smoked paprika
  • 2 Shallots
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 Jalapeño
  • 2 tbsp Salt
  • 2 tbsp Brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Water

Oh yeah… Strange flavors and spices. Smoked pepper and paprika, cubeb pepper… What the hell! It is so strange. Well you don ‘t need all this. Just some of the herbs  will be enough. The whole idea here is to use herbs that go well together. Rosemary and garlic, brwon sugar and spiciness… That ‘s all. The other secret is coming soon… So the idea here is to grind everything down and mix it. Starting with the herbs that will take longer to grind. I do manual grind with mortal and pestle so a start with the tough spices before I get all tired.




Oregano… (thyme does not need any grinding, it is fine enough)




Smoked pepper corns


Red pepper flakes.


Cubeb pepper.


Put everything in a bowl and follow with the powder ingredients. Paprika,…


smoked paprika,




Salt. A small note here. If you are planning to marinate for more than a day, and I strongly recommend to do so, you might need to hold back to only a tbsp of salt.


Once the dry stuff are in, follow with the 1/4 cup of oil,




And some water to dilute the mixture. Not to much just to take it to a loose paste consistency.


Now grind the onion. Make it in a cream form. I use a micro-plane grater for that. If you cannot do it, you can just mince it.


Same thing with the garlic. Now here is the recipe success. Leave the marinate fro a few hours, overnight is better, in room temperature for the ingredients to mellow and come together. This can be done with the meat inside, but in that case the addition of the meat is will not allow us to use room temperature and the result although good, will never be the same good. Once the marinate has mellow turn your attention to the loin.


they usually come sealed in a airtight bag in pairs.


Slightly rinse them.


Although there is no much fat to remove, and don t! there is a silver skin, a tough outer membrane that needs to be removed since it is inedible and extremely tough.


Work it in small pieces with a perry knife or a knife with a flexible blade.


Add the loins in the  marinate.


And turn them around to coat them well.


Although you can leave them in there. It is highly recommended to put the in a re-sealable bag.


That you will put in a container to prevent any spillage, that can cause cross contamination. And marinate from an hour to 1 week. The optimum is 2 days.


Add the meat on a rack and put in a 400 F oven. The aluminum foil is used here not only for the drippings, but as a reflector to radiate the heat to the other side of the meat.


Add the temperature probe. I now not all of you have one. But in this case it is the most important tool. When the probe reaches 140 F the meat is ready. Longer cooking time and all the juices will start evaporating and the meat dries out. Plug this to the thicker part of the meat.


For safety set the temperature alarm at 141 F.


And here is the meat cooked. After about 30 mins give or take a few. Make sure that you put the probe in various parts to make sure that there is no temperature below 140 F.


Let it rest in aluminum foil for a few minutes (the longest time you will ever wait). Cut it on the bias. Not to much just for the sake of presentation.


Look at all this juicy goodness. Scoop it for dressing the meat.


Like this!

Oh the pure is a cauliflower purée. The most amazing dish that has to wait till the next post.


Oh yeah a close up look! Hungry yet?

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Last modified: December 16, 2021 by Georgios Pyrgiotakis