A whole pork tenderloin is hard to beat for entertaining or special family dinners. It’s easy to prepare in a variety of ways, easy to slice and there’s virtually no waste. The only prep needed may be to remove any tough silver skin on the outside, and this is easily done with a sharp knife. Very often, this is already done for you when you purchase the meat.
This recipe coats a nicely seasoned whole tenderloin in a conventional 3-step breading process that ends with crisp panko breadcrumbs. Panko is now available in most major grocery stores next to regular breadcrumbs. Regular breadcrumbs may be used, but you’ll miss out on the great crunch from the panko crumbs.
The USDA now recommends cooking fresh pork to an internal temperature of 145°F (down from the older recommendation of 160°F) which results in a juicier piece of meat that is slightly pink. I like a two-step cooking that involves browning the meat first on top of the stove and then finishing the cooking in the oven to assure even cooking. I always use a meat thermometer to test for doneness.
The end result is a succulent, fork-tender mini-roast with an addictive crunchy coating. It is important to permit the meat to rest after removing it from the oven. This allows the juices to evenly redistribute throughout the meat and makes slicing easier. An average whole pork tenderloin will serve four people. Count yourself lucky if you have any leftovers. Cold and thinly sliced, this tenderloin makes a terrific sandwich the next day.
Breaded Whole Pork Tenderloin
1 whole pork tenderloin
Seasoned Salt (I prefer Lawry’s but plain salt may be substituted)
Black pepper to taste
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 egg, beaten
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
Canola or vegetable oil for frying
Rinse pork under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. If the ends of the tenderloin are loose or very thin, tuck them under and tie with kitchen twine to secure. Season on all sides with salt and pepper, then dredge in flour, tapping off any excess flour.
Beat the egg in a pie plate and roll the tenderloin around in it to coat with the egg. Place the panko on a large piece of wax paper in an even layer. Roll the tenderloin in the panko to coat well, gently pressing the crumbs into the egg coating.
Over medium heat, heat about one inch of oil in a non-stick skillet large enough to hold the tenderloin. When the oil is hot, carefully place the breaded tenderloin into the oil and brown evenly on all sides. Turn the pork carefully to avoid scraping the breading off. Tongs are helpful with this step. While the oil is heating, pre-heat oven to 350°F.
When the tenderloin is browned on all sides, remove from the oil and place on a rack in a baking pan. Roast the tenderloin at 350°F for about 15-20 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 145°F on a meat thermometer.
Remove from the oven and let the meat rest for 10-15 minutes, uncovered, before slicing with a sharp knife.