I am generally not a huge collector of gadgets in the kitchen, but I will make an exception for my sous-vide machine which I use several times a week. But whether using a sous-vide machine or not, this is a very simple meal, highlighting the joys of the wonderfully inexpensive pork tenderloin.
As it is a very lean meat, pork tenderloin is prone to drying out when it is cooking and can rapidly go from under-done to dry in moments. When cooked sous-vide, you are guaranteed a succulent piece of meat: hopefully you can see the succulence of the pork from the photos!
If you are not cooking the pork sous-vide, I find it easier poaching it very gently in stock (or a mixture of stock and white wine) for about 15 minutes, before finishing off in the pan.
Sous-vide machines: to buy or not to buy?
I have always wanted a sous-vide machine but they used to be expensive for the typical home cook. However, they have now come down significantly in price, with several entry-level machines that are easily comparable to a decent food mixer price-wise and, for the serious foodie, I would say they are must-haves!
And they double-up as a slow-cooker, which I find invaluable in the autumn and winter months.
If I had the choice of a food mixer or a sous-vide, I would go for the sous-vide as a preference: perfect for cooking fruit (pears are wonderful), meat (chicken breasts or guinea fowl breasts are sensational), eggs (a sous-vide egg is a thing of great joy)…….The list goes on!
My sous-vide machine is so simple to use and takes moments to set up. Everything can be prepared ahead, only to be finished off when I am ready to eat.
And there are no worries over precise timings: most things do not worry if they are left in the sous-vide half an hour or so longer.
A simple, effective marinade for pork tenderloin
I cut a piece of tenderloin into two pieces and mixed with a little extra-virgin olive oil, crushed garlic, a little smoked paprika, a bay leaf, pepper and fresh rosemary. The pork and these added flavours were then vacuum-packed, thus sealing in those wonderful flavours.
The marinading and the sous-vide cooking can all be done ahead of time, with the pork left in the vacuum bags once it has been cooked: it then just needs to be finished off in a hot pan when you are just about ready to eat, which takes moments.
If chilling the pork once it has been cooked in the sous-vide, it is worth popping it back into the sous-vide machine to warm through before finishing it in the pan.
Cooking temperature and time
I cooked the pork at 56C for just over 2 and a half hours, which gave beautifully moist and tender fillets.
When I re-made this a few days later upon my partner’s insistence (and I needed no persuasion!), I left it in the water bath for almost 4 hours at this temperature, and still got the most succulent piece of pork!
A simple accompaniment: creamed leeks with chorizo
I went for creamed leeks as an accompaniement to the pork, along with a few carrots that had been roasting in a little garlic and thyme.
The leeks were sauteed in a little butter and seasoning along with some small chunks of chorizo, until they became soft. I then added a little English mustard and a few tablespoons of light crème fraîche. I added the pork juices from the vacuum-bags for extra flavour.
Finishing the pork
To finish, I gave the pork fillets a sprinkling of sea salt and sauteed them in a hot frying pan along with a little oil and butter for about a minute, turning it to get the outside caramelised.