One of the easiest ways to get a pork tenderloin to turn out perfectly is to cook it sous vide. To create a sous vide pork tenderloin that standouts from the crowd this recipe uses a combination of chili powder and a hint of chipotle to create one with the bold flavors of the Southwest.
The best reason for cooking a pork tenderloin sous vide is how easy it is to get the pork just right, with a little pink in the center and a nice crisp crust on the outside.
What makes this recipe so delicious is how the chili powder rub on the outside helps create a crisp crust and flavors that pop!
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Making Pork Tenderloin Taste Delicious
Pork tenderloin is a lean, tender cut that is ideal for cooking sous vide. What makes tenderloin such a good cut is its soft supple texture and ability to absorb flavors from spices and marinades. The flip side of its ability to absorb flavors is that when a tenderloin is under-seasoned all it has to offer is texture.
There are so many sous vide recipes that use herbs and other aromatics for pork tenderloin that we wanted to do something special with ours and create a unique recipe with bold flavors that took advantage of the pork’s tenderness to create a memorable dish.
Since pork tenderloin is as close as you can get to a blank canvas when you’re cooking, we decided to use the deep, smoky flavors of the Southwest. We love how the combination of ancho chili, cumin, and other spices add layers of flavor – especially when they become the base for the crust that forms when the tenderloin is finished.
In addition to using a good chili powder, our spice rub adds a little chipotle for heat and garlic powder to round out the flavors. We also give the tenderloin a rubdown with some lemon juice to help the spices adhere to the pork and to brighten the dish’s flavors.
One of the best ways we’ve found to elevate pork dishes is to add a little lemon or lime juice or apple cider vinegar to the pork before its cooked. Adding any of the three gives the pork a slight twang.
Tips for Better Sous Vide
There are a lot of things that people do when they’re roasting or grilling pork tenderloin that don’t need to be done when it’s cooked sous vide. One of the most significant advantages of cooking sous vide is that it locks in an ingredient’s moisture, meaning there’s no reason to brine something before cooking.
Also, since the pork is cooked at a consistent temperature, there’s no need to let it rest when it comes out of the water bath.
For appearance and taste, it does need to be finished. The two easiest ways to finish one is to sear it in a hot pan with a little oil for a few minutes or on the grill.
In either case, pat the tenderloin dry before putting it on the heat and make sure to turn it every few minutes until it develops a nice crust on each side.
In our testing, we found that there’s no advantage to searing the tenderloin before cooking it sous vide, it essentially came out the same as the ones we didn’t pre-sear.
We like the tenderloin cooked at 133℉ (56ºC), which produces a nice pink middle with a soft texture. If you want your pork a little more done just increase the temperature a few degrees.
The general temperature range for pork tenderloin cooked sous vide is between 130ºF (54ºC) and 140ºF (60ºC) for medium-rare and between 140ºF and 150ºF (65ºC) for medium. Pork tenderloin cooked sous vide can be cooked beyond a medium 150ºF (65ºC), but it’s not our thing.
There’s a lot of flexibility when it comes to sous vide pork tenderloin cooking times. Our recommendation is to cook it for 1 to 3 hours to let the flavors from the spice rub soak in and the pork to develop the right level of tenderness.
We usually serve this pork tenderloin as the main dish in a nice meal. It also makes some of the best tacos you’ve ever had when it’s cut up into bite-sized pieces and served with a little mango salsa and shredded pepper jack cheese.
- 1 lb pork tenderloin
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp chipotle
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- In a small bowl combine the chili, chipotle, and garlic powders with the salt and pepper
- Trim any loose pieces or extra fat from the pork and rub it down with the lemon juice.
- Coat the tenderloin with the spices, seal it inside a bag, and place it into a water bath at 133ºF for at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours.
- When the tenderloin has finished cooking, remove it from the bath, and pat it dry with a paper towel.
- To finish on the stove sear it in a hot pan with a little olive oil for 2 to 3 minutes a side. If you’re finishing it on the grill, preheat the grill to medium-high and grill the tenderloin for 2 to 3 minutes per side.The goal for either method is to use medium-high heat to develop a nice crust on the outside without over cooking the middle.
- To serve slice the pork into rounds around an inch thick.