While working on my last big project over at my former job, we would get a lot of catered meals. It was the only way we could go about training/cleaning up data and make the most of the day. We were lucky to have our delivery made most days from a delicious local company that ended up opening a restaurant right by the office. That’s how much everyone loved them! The only times I wrinkled my nose at the sight of the trays was on pork tenderloin day.
Dried out pork tenderloin is a sad thing. It’s especially sad when it happens to you. No amount of seasoning can cover that mishap up.
One of the safeguards against over dried pork is to cook it to an internal temperature of 145˚F. This is not a well known or published fact here in Puerto Rico. For the people who do not feel comfortable eating pinkish pork, there is another solution: seasoning the tenderloin in a brine. A brine is a saline solution that seasons meat inside and out. The combination of salt and sugar permeates the meat and allows it to retain the water – hence juiciness.
I like to think of brines as liquid adobos. A basic brine proportion is 50 grams of salt for every liter of water (5% salt). You can add as many different flavoring components into the mixture to infuse milder tasting pork and poultry. For this particular brine, I used a quart of water, two vegetable bouillon cubes (the kind that yield 2 cups of stock per cube), a few tablespoons of brown sugar, orange peels, peppercorns, coriander seeds, 3 garlic cloves and oregano brujo leaves.
To make a brine, simply add the quart of water in a large saucepan. Add the salt/bouillon cubes and other flavorings and bring up to a boil. Let the mixture simmer until all the salt is dissolved into the water. Remove it from the heat and let it cool. I like letting the brine rest at room temperature for at least fifteen minutes and then transfer it to the refrigerator for at least 45 minutes to make sure it is completely cooled.
Place the tenderloin in a zipper bag or a large enough non-reactive vessel (glass/porcelain) and cover with the solution. Refrigerate it for at least six hours. When ready to roast the tenderloin, remove it from the brine and rinse it. Discard the liquid – it cannot be reused, as it draws out blood and other impurities as it infuses the meat with the seasoning.
To roast the tenderloin, place on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Insert the temperature probe of your oven or any other thermometer into the thickest part of the pork. Roast the loin until the internal temperature reaches 145˚F. Remove the pork from the oven and let it rest for ten minutes, so that the juices redistribute. Slice as thinly or thickly as you like.