How To Make Stuffed Pork Tenderloin
The pig is one of the most versatile animals in terms of meat. Almost every part of the animal can be turned into something delicious, all of which have a unique flavor and texture all their own.
One of the absolute best cuts of pork is the tenderloin. Tender, flavorful, and incredibly versatile, it's one of the most sought after pieces of meat on the animal and packs a massive flavor punch no matter how it's cooked.
Today, though, we'll be showing you one of the absolute best ways to cook this amazing cut. Get ready for this surprisingly simple and stupendously scrumptious recipe for a stuffed pork tenderloin made with mushrooms and spinach. It's a taste sensation you won't soon forget, but you won't be able to remember it unless we hurry things up and get started.
Materials & Ingredients For This Recipe
Before diving into this recipe, you'll first want to get together a short list of supplies. These will include items like:
- 1 pork tenderloin (~1 1/2 lbs).
- 2 slices unsmoked pancetta.
- 2 cloves garlic.
- 1 large red onion.
- 3/4 cup mushrooms.
- 3/4 cup cream cheese.
- 1/2 cup finely grated real Parmesan cheese.
- 1/2 cup spinach leaves.
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter.
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar.
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt.
- 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil.
- Charcoal grill.
- Chunk charcoal and apple wood chunks/chips.
- Meat thermometer.
- Plastic wrap.
- Meat mallet.
- Butcher's twine.
- Food-safe brush.
- Aluminum foil.
When you've successfully collected all the parts, you can then begin work on the recipe itself.
Step 1: Trim the Pork
While the pork tenderloin is a fairly lean cut of meat, it does tend to have various bits of silverskin along its surface. Using a very sharp knife, carefully trim these off as they won't break down or soften with heat and just create an unpleasant eating experience.
Step 2: Prepare the Stuffing
The star of this show is as much the stuffing as it is the pork. Begin by cleaning your spinach and mushrooms, then chopping into bite sized pieces. Crush and mince the garlic. Cut the onion into half-rings, then roughly chop the parsley. Finally, cut up the pancetta into small pieces.
Over medium heat, cook the pancetta with a splash of water. This helps to render as much fat as possible. Keep cooking until the meat has crisped up, the water is evaporated, and you're left with a nice pool of fat. Remove the meat from the pan and drain on paper towels.
Toss in your onions with half the butter and a pinch of salt. Sauté until significantly caramelized before deglazing with the vinegar and removing from the pan after it has reduced. Next, add your mushrooms and spinach with the remaining butter, cooking until both have released all their moisture. Add in your garlic and parsley and toast until fragrant, around a minute or so.
Combine the cooked stuffing ingredients in a large bowl and combine with softened cream cheese and Parmesan. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as necessary, then set aside to cool to room temperature.
Step 3: Assembling the Tenderloin
As your stuffing cools, butterfly the tenderloin by cutting around half of the way into the meat right down the center. Unfold like a book, then place a layer of plastic wrap over the surface. Pound out with a blunt meat mallet or the bottom of a heavy pan until around 1/2 inch thick consistently across the surface. Take care not to pound a hole through the pork.
Once flattened, remove the plastic wrap and season the inside of the meat thoroughly with salt and pepper. Spread the cooled stuffing across the meat, keeping a half inch or so border on three sides uncovered. Begin rolling the tenderloin starting with the fourth side covered in stuffing, rolling slowly and tightly to tuck the meat under itself securely. It's both normal and expected for a bit of the stuffing to come out the ends.
Place the meat seam-side down and tie off at every inch or so with butcher's twine, securing the roll. Brush down the meat with olive oil and season the outside of the meat with the remaining salt and pepper.
Step 4: Prep the Grill
In order to effectively cook this tenderloin, you'll need to construct a two-zone fire on the grill. Do this by filling roughly half the grill with charcoal, building a sort of wall between the two sides with larger charcoal chunks. Light the grill and close the lid to let things get hot (if you're using wood chips, soak them in hot water at this point). After around ten minutes have passed, open the lid and toss on some extra coals plus your wood, then place on the grill grate and get ready to cook.
Step 5: Grill the Tenderloin
With your fire hot, place the tenderloin on the cooler side of the grill seam-side down. Close the lid and let it cook undisturbed for around ten minutes. After those ten minutes have passed, flip the pork over and repeat the process. Check the temperature after this second flip and continue cooking in five minute intervals until you reach around 145 degrees Fahrenheit in the thickest part of the meat. Once you hit that, remove it from the heat.
Step 6: Rest the Tenderloin
After taking the meat off the heat, tent it loosely in aluminum foil on a flat surface and allow it to rest for ten minutes. This gives the meat a chance to finish cooking as the heat distributes throughout it and allows the proteins to relax after being heated, reabsorbing their juices and tenderizing themselves. It also spares your mouth the trauma of eating the molten cheesy center of the tenderloin. Use this time constructively to finish any sides or other meats you're grilling.
Step 7: Serve the Tenderloin
Once you've given it a chance to rest, it's time to serve the meat. Snip off the butcher's twine and begin carving the tenderloin, cutting pieces as thick or as thin as you like and plating up next to some fantastic sides. Even just eating it alone, though, would be a fantastic treat with how the deliciously grilled, slightly smoky meat plays off the salty, savory, creamy stuffing.
Pork tenderloin is one of those all-star dishes that never disappointed. Why settle for just good when you could be great, though? This stuffed pork tenderloin recipe is exactly how you do it, providing both a rich and delicious taste and a stunning spiral presentation all in one.
If you liked this recipe, let us know down below. What's your favorite ingredients for a tenderloin filling? As always, remember to show a friend who hasn't yet mastered the technique for stuffing meat and could probably use some help with it.
Frequently Asked Questions
What temperature do you cook pork tenderloin to?
The USDA safe cooking temperature for pork is 145 degrees F. This temperature is also the “medium rare” temperature for steak, so don’t be surprised if your pork has a tint of pink in the center. Pink pork is safe to eat so long as it reaches the proper temperatures, but if it bothers you, continue cooking the pork tenderloin for another 5 or 10 degrees and it will be white through.
Can I stuff a pork roast the night before?
Yes, you can definitely stuff your pork tenderloin the day before you cook it. You could either prepare the stuffing and let it cool in the refrigerator overnight, or you can stuff and truss the whole tenderloin in advance. Make sure to wrap the tenderloin in plastic wrap to keep it from drying out in the refrigerator overnight.
How do you keep a pork loin or pork tenderloin from drying out?
Because pork loin and tenderloin are very lean, they tend to dry out when they’re overcooked. The lack of intermuscular fat means you’ll taste it if you accidentally overcook the pork! We recommend using an instant read meat thermometer to identify the exact time when the pork reaches a safe temperature. You should also brine pork loin and tenderloin to keep it moist as it cooks.
What’s the difference between the pork loin and pork tenderloin?
The pork loin and tenderloin are two separate primal cuts from a pig. The pork loin is large and runs on the outside of the rib cage. It is so big, you can cut it into smaller steaks, which are usually called pork chops. On the other hand, the pork tenderloin is thin and long. It is rarely cut into smaller pieces.
Can you make this recipe with a pork loin?
You can make this recipe using a pork loin instead of a tenderloin and it will feed many more people. You will need to double or triple the stuffing ingredients, depending on the size of your loin roast. To make the loin easier to roll and truss, trim any fat cap on the outside to a quarter inch thick.