Save my Overcooked Tenderloin!
November 15, 2018 10:38 PM   Subscribe

So I dry-rubbed and seasoned two pork tenderloins (about 1 lb each), and roasted them for dinner. My intention was to eat one tonight and save the other for tomorrow. Unfortunately I overcooked them a bit. They came out around 160 degrees, which isn't horrible, but not ideal. What can I do with the 2nd tenderloin for dinner tomorrow? Hope me!

I used an Italian/porchetta flavor profile on these (garlic, rosemary, fennel, etc.). The flavor is good, but the meat is a bit tough.

I have all day Friday to figure out a way to make the remaining tenderloin taste more delicious. Can I slow-cook it in some sort of braising liquid to try to get it up to tenderness? Should I chop it up and mix it with a sauce? I'm planning to serve with sweet & sour red cabbage if that helps.

I've got applesauce at my disposal, as well as a decently-stocked pantry. Is there a sauce I can make that might help these?

What would you do with an overcooked cold pork tenderloin?
posted by hydra77 to Food & Drink (11 answers total)
Pork tenderloin is awfully lean and has very little collagen, so I doubt slow cooking will help much, as fat and collagen melting down are what makes slow cooked meats tender instead of tough and dry.

When I've done this, I generally slice it super thin while still cold to maximize tenderness then toss with a boldly flavored sauce like bbq and then make sandwiches or sauteed garlic/onion/cumin/chipotle/lime/cilantro for tacos.

If you want to stick to serving it with cabbage, maybe still slice it super thin, then toss with caramelized onions, maybe some paprika, egg noodles, butter or sour cream, and parsley or dill.
posted by mostlymartha at 11:15 PM on November 15, 2018 [12 favorites]

I would try gently warming it up in some cider.
posted by Segundus at 1:40 AM on November 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

Yeah some acid may help, maybe even a little orange or lemon instead of or in with the cider. If you go that route, just back off the sour in the sweet/sour cabbage and it should be fine.

Another option: it’s quite out of style, but old-fashioned meat tenderizer will certainly help, it’s an enzyme that breaks down the collagen.

Also mechanical tenderization is an option, pounding it with a mallet is usually done prior to cooking, but will still help after.
posted by SaltySalticid at 4:59 AM on November 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

Slice very thin and make sandwiches. Dress however you like:
- Tomato sauce and cheese melted under broiler
- BBQ sauce
- Caramelized onions and apples
posted by tman99 at 5:50 AM on November 16, 2018 [4 favorites]

(I should have said meat tenderizers such as bromelain break down meat proteins. Their action isn’t restricted to collagen, so the fact that tenderloin doesn’t have much collagen won’t prevent it from helping here)
posted by SaltySalticid at 7:06 AM on November 16, 2018

There is literally nothing you can do to make this tenderloin moist. There is no re-setting the clock on overcooked lean/tender meat. Mechanical or enzymatic methods will not make the meat moist and tender, they will simply make it mushy. When meat is cooked, the fibers shrink and squeeze out moisture. Because there is no fat or collagen in pork tenderloin to provide lubrication, the meat will always be dry.

If I were you I'd slice it thin and use it for sandwiches per tman99 above; or you could slice it and use it as the meat for a stir-fry type dish (just throw the meat in at the last minute only to warm it up); or you could chop it up and toss it with some garlic, bitter greens and penne; make it the meat component in lasagne al forno; mix it with fried onion and poblanos and use it for tacos; and so on. The point is that you do not want to serve it as "a tenderloin" where it will stand on its own merits (even if you serve it with a "side" such as your contemplated red cabbage prep). This will simply highlight the fact that it's dry. Rather, you want to reduce it to small pieces and incorporate it into some other kind of dish that will bring its own moisture to the game.
posted by slkinsey at 7:09 AM on November 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

It is a bit off the wall, but I am wondering if you could make a terrine from bits of the pork tenderloin using some butter and gelatin to replace the juciness lost from overcooking. Essentially what you would be doing is slicing it into thin slices and strips and mixing it with some butter to soak up some of the good butterfat and then pour in a clear gravy thickened with some gelatin once it is all pushed into a loaf tin and let it set. It could make a wonderful terrine but it would be much easier to just slice it and use it for sandwiches.
posted by koolkat at 7:17 AM on November 16, 2018

I should add that the pork tenderloin is still tender. If you cut it across the grain, it shouldn't be hard to bite through and hard to break down with chewing like a piece of rare brisket would be. That is toughness. On the other hand, overcooked pork tenderloin is dry. It's not necessarily hard to bite through or break down with chewing, but the dryness makes it unpleasant and perhaps difficult to chew due to the dryness rather than due to resistance to mechanical breakdown. Dryness and toughness are related, but not quite the same thing. It is possible for a piece of meat to be reasonably easy to bite through and unpleasantly dry to chew at the same time. I suspect that's what you have going with your pork tenderloin. Unfortunately, there is no way to put moisture back into the meat.
posted by slkinsey at 7:18 AM on November 16, 2018

I made a great pork ragu chili like but clearer, lighter sauce and with organic celery, onions, garlic, fresh basil, chardonnay and thinned organic marinara. I put four containers to freeze for another two meals apiece. I served myself this last night over cooked castilla squash. Reading up on that squash, it comes in at 35 calories per cup. Late in the game I used a pastry cutter I have to shred the meat in the pan. Your tenderloin will be tender after a longish simmer. Oh I forgot, I put about a cup of fresh cranberries into this ragu, I started with 3 pounds of pork, cubed to one inch pieces. I wanted it not soupy, and then again not without sauciness. I used a seasoned salt, Spike in it, some cumin, and maybe 3 Tablespoons of mild California chili powder.
posted by Oyéah at 8:08 AM on November 16, 2018

I would not do anything else to it, just slice it very thin and serve it at room temp (not cold) with some kind of moistener. I personally like a salsa verde kinda thing, but there are many options.
posted by JPD at 8:22 AM on November 16, 2018

You're in the perfect position for the meal my mom would make for my birthday for many years:
Noodles with Crispy Meat Sauce

Serves: 4
Sunset Pasta Cookbook, 1980

Prep time: 1:00

8 ounces noodles
Boiling, salted water
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups slivered, cooked roast beef or pork
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 teaspoon dry basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon dry mediterranean oregano
1 - 14 ounces can stewed tomatoes
2 fresh tomatoes, chopped
Grated Parmesan cheese

Cook noodles according to directions in boiling, salted water.

In a wide frying pan, over medium heat, combine olive oil and butter. Add the meat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is crisp and browned, about 30 minutes. Add the parsley, basil, salt, pepper and oregano. If using stewed tomatoes, add at this time, also. Cook just until parsly begins to turn limp.

Drain noodles and mix into sauce. If using fresh tomatoes, top with tomatoes before serving. Pass the Parmesan cheese
posted by Uncle at 1:34 PM on November 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

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