Tender Is The Pork Transcript

The Kitchen

    [at the window, looks through binoculars] The French gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin famously wrote, "Tell me what you eat and I'll tell you what you are." Well, somewhere along the line the quote has been twisted into, "You are what you eat." which really isn't the same thing at all. Still, wouldn't it be interesting if we did become what we ate the most?
    [he sees people walking and playing with chicken heads on them] Just as I feared. Over the last few decades, our culture fixated on fast, cheap, low-fat convenient meat, has come to rely more and more on Gallus domesticus. It's like the movie "Soylent green," only with, you know, chickens instead of ... you know. And we need to find an alternative, antidote if you will, before it's too late.
    [In front of refrigerator] Let us consider the most popular cut of this critter, the [chicken] breast. It contains a high percentage of fast twitch musculature, which is primarily anaerobic. Therefore it lacks hemoglobin and therefore it is light in color. Since these muscles don't work very often, if ever, there isn't much connective tissue, hence it is tender. And since poultry scientists, geneticists, and feed engineers have whittled away at its fat content until it's on par with, I don't know, an underfed Russian supermodel, it's ... well, it's about as lean as lean gets.
    Now how do you replace this? Well, let's consider the beef critter. It's mighty tasty. But with an average feed conversion ratio of 5.5 to 1, an average fat content of about 20 percent, and an average cook time of well over two hours for say, a 4 to 5 pound roast, this is not exactly a replacement for chicken, now is it? The profile just doesn't match.
    But then, let us consider the pig. Although many of the cuts found herein require either long cooking times or mechanical tenderization, there's one particular muscle in here, or rather two per pig, that rivals the chicken breast for convenience, flavor, and fat content. It is the tenderloin. And what I like about it best is that it doesn't taste a bit like chicken, which certainly qualifies it as  ...

[Good Eats Theme]

Outside A Barn / Butcher Shop

GUESTS: Butcher

    Everybody say "hi" to Wilbur. [a pig model] Now the particular pieces that we hope to harvest from Wilbur are buried deep within his nearly entirely edible chassis. But that doesn't mean that they're hard to get to. In fact, when a commercial hog is dispatched, it is generally split right down the middle. Of course, there's a lot more kind of stuff in there at the time. But this is pretty good. You can see we've got the ribs, and we've got the spine. And you'll notice, lodged right along the inside of the ribcage, next to the spine, are these two beautiful little tubes of meat, one on either side. These are the tenderloins. And their convenient placement is, as far as I'm concerned, proof positive that we were meant to eat them.

[barn background opens up to reveal a butcher shop]

[the following price list is the same as was first seen in the Tamale episode]

CTR. CUT PORK RIB CHOP ... $4.19/lb
PORK LOIN CHOP ........... $4.29/lb
HAM STEAK ................ $1.29/lb
FLANK STEAK .............. $6.99/lb
HAMBURGER ................ $3.29/lb
GROUND MEAT .............. $1.99/lb
GROUND PORK .............. $1.79/lb
LEAN GROUND PORK ......... $2.99/lb

    Now as one moves into the meat market arena, you're going to quickly note that a great many tenderloins come from the processor in these heavy bags called cryobags. There's always two whole tenderloins in there along with a good amount of liquid. They are hermetically sealed and so they have a very long shelf life. I've kept one of these viable in the chill chest for well over two whole weeks. But beware, many such sacks ...

AB: [to the butcher, indicates a tenderloin in the case] Yeah, that one right there.

... contain enhanced pork. You may find your tenderloin floating in a speckled solution which could contain, oh, I don't know, potassium lactate, sodium diacetate, sodium phosphates. Yum!

AB: So why is so much tenderloin packed in just such a pickle?
BUTCHER: The tenderloin cooks very quickly and can dry it out even quicker. So liquid enhancers injected into the meat can help make up for that.
AB: So in other words, we breed most of the juicy, flavor, goodness out of the pig, and then re-inject it with a salty solution?
B: Some folks are just happy it's not fat.
AB: Well, I may not care for the idea of pork enhancement, Washington, D.C. Style, but on the plate I think it's a pretty good idea.

    But every good cook should know that enhancement starts in the home.

AB: So I'm just going to take one of these bad boys with me. Oh, how do you like yours?
B: Best cut for a fast weeknight grill session.
AB: Couldn't have said it better myself.

[barn doors close]

The Kitchen

GUESTS: Scientists #1 & #2

    Before we get into home enhancement, we need to do a wee, wee, wee little bit of butchery. Tenderloin contains no bones, no gristle, and no real fat to mention. But there is a small little strip of non-digestible reticulate, called silver skin, here kind of sheathing the muscle. And that has got to go. So insert the end of a narrow boning knife, or paring knife, away from you. And kind of slide it enough to get your finger in, and then pull and kind of slide. Try not to saw back and forth too much. Then turn, hold the skin, and go the other way. Notice I'm kind of wiggling that silver skin. Once you've got all of this off, then you can contemplate the enhancement options.

    When it comes to meat flavor enhancement, there are three standard scenarios to consider.
    Dry rubs are super-charged surface seasonings, either dredged, sprinkled, or rubbed onto the surface of the meat mere moments before the heat is introduced. This creates a nice, tasty crust.
   Now brines are simple or complex salt solutions, capable of initiating changes in the structure of the meat via osmotic action. We often employ brines to prevent bigger hunks of critter from drying out during long periods in the oven.
   And then we have marinades. Now not everyone agrees on the technical differences between a brine and marinade.




SCIENTISTS #1 & #2: [begin fighting a la the Matrix, but then end up with sissy-slaps]]

    But in my book, the delineation is simple because the defining characteristic of a marinade is acidity. Okay, acids turn taste buds and saliva glands up to eleven. And that can be a very good thing.

Most pigs in the us are a cross between the
Duroc, Hampshire, and Yorkshire breeds.

The Kitchen

GUEST: Thing

    All right, if you have a pork tenderloin destined for the grill, as far as I'm concerned this is the only marinade you'll need. I build it in an eight ounce jar because we don't need a lot. It's potent stuff.

    It begins with a half cup of lime juice for acid. And yes, it's got to be fresh squeezed. Now before squeezing said limesyou're going to need four to get your half cupfinely grate the zest of just one of them, and toss that into the mix. Now to balance some of that sour we'll need some sweetness in the form of a quarter cup of honey. Lighter varieties are better than darker varieties. One and a half teaspoons of kosher salt will lend a briney bite and also give our marinade a chemical, well, advantage that we'll get into later. Some additional flavor will come from half a teaspoon of garlic powder, which I prefer to the raw ingredient because it disperses more easily in the marinade. Put on the lid and just give that a good shake to combine. There. Cup Freshly Squeezed
    Lime Juice
Finely Grated Zest From
    1 Lime
Cup Honey
tsp. Kosher Salt
tsp. Garlic Powder

    Now I am going to put half of this into a zip top bag, gallon size, along with our trimmed pork tenderloin. The rest of it we will reserve for later use.

    Now last, but by no means least, a little heat. I have here one chipotle chile. This was canned in adobo sauce ...

THING: [shows the can]

... and I simply finely diced it. Now that goes in, we give it a nice little massage around the meat, and seal removing as much air as possible. [puts the meat in the fridge] Now in as little as six hours we will have positive effect. But 24? Well, that'll give us a whole new piece of meat.

One Chipotle Chili Pepper In
    Adobo Sauce

    What does a marinade actually do? Well, let me tell you what it doesn't do. It doesn't tenderize. Even if marinades could penetrate big hunks of meat enough to reach tough inner fibersand they can'tit would take days or maybe weeks for the work to be done. And yet, even a relatively short soak in our marinade is going to make a difference. Here's why.
    Now let's say for a minute this wine bottle is our meat. Now it can float in this big bucket of flavor all day without taking in very much at all. But the salt in our marinade effects the proteins at the surface, a process called solublization, so that the space between the meat fibers kind of opens up, thus allowing for better absorption, or what the meat industry calls 'pick-up". Now once it's in, the acid weakens the proteins so they can better bind with the liquid thus increasing the meat's WHC or water holding capacity. Then in the coup de grace, the salt swells outer fibers, eventually sealing them so the moisture is in essence locked inside. The result, a flavor-loaded piece of meat that's less likely to dry during cooking.

Back Yard

    Due to its size, shape, and general lack of connective tissue, pork tenderloin cooks curiously quickly. It also has the annoying habit of drying out very, very quickly. To me, that automatically points to cooking very, very quickly over the highest heat that we can possibly muster. And that means we will be turning to the carbonaceous remains of hardwood partially combusted in a low-oxygen environment, i.e., charcoal. Natural chunk charcoal. No preservatives, no buffers, no funny business. You're going to need four and a half pounds of it and yeah, I really do weigh if because it's difficult to measure volumetrically. But if you want to eyeball it just go with one large chimney, such as this. As for the grill itself, well, anything with a grate and a lid will do, but I'm partial to Old Fireball, here. Been with me over a decade. [Sniffling] It's a beautiful relationship.

    Anyway, as far as ignition goes, you may eschew any chemical agents and simply rely on a couple of sheets of today's bad news [newspaper]. To make it burn longer I like to drizzle on about a teaspoon of vegetable oil, maybe two, and just wad that up good and put under the chimney. There. Fire it up and it should be ready to go in about 15 minutes

1 tsp. Vegetable Oil

    Now as for other gear, we are definitely going to want to have one of these [fire extinguisher] around. Always a good idea. Some heat-proof gloves, which I get at my local fireman supply store. And some long tongs for easy manipulation of the meat. Speaking of  ... [enters the house]

The Kitchen

    All right, time to extract our tenderloin which you'll notice has absorbed some of the three ounces of liquid that we placed it in. And go ahead and get your reserved marinade while you're at it.

The Kitchen

    That is a good hot fire. You can tell by the gray that's right around the edges of the charcoals. So, we will carefully dump and you want to spread that around a little bit just to get nice even coverage. You don't want any piles or you'll have uneven heat. There. Now the grill grate you'll apply thusly. There we go.
    At this point, a lot of folks would be lubing up the meat to keep it from sticking. I don't like that. If you've spent any time around a grillman in a restaurant, you've probably seen one of these. It's just a side towel with a little twine around it. Keep it in a container with a little bit of oil so you can swab the grill thusly. Just give it a quick rubdown. That is all the lubrication that is needed. But you want to make sure there isn't so much oil here that this all bursts into flames. That would not necessarily be a good thing. There. Now we're ready for the meat. No lubrication on the meat, that's important. And right down on the hottest part of the fire. Reapply the cover. And we time one and a half minutes.

Guess what city earned the nickname Porkopolis in the 1860s?

The Kitchen

GUESTS: Itchy and Twitchy
             Scientists #1 & #2

    Okay, a minute and a half is up. So give your tenderloin a quarter turn. There. Now re-lid and we will time another minute and a half. Then we're going to roll another 90 degrees and we're going to keep that going until we've accumulated 12 minutes of cooking time. But actually what's more important is that in the end we've got to hit an internal temperature of 140 degrees.

ITCHY AND TWITCHY: [enter and open briefcases]

    Oh look, it's my attorneys, Itchy and Twitchy.

AB: Hey, I see you guys dressed for grilling today. [notes their plaid shorts] Nice. You look, uh, stupid.
ITCH & TWIT: [begin to hand him papers]
AB: What? Oh, you have got to be kidding me! There has not been a case of trichinosis in commercial pork in this country since well ... [gets handed another piece of paper] Yeah, look, "wild cougar meat." Come on, guys, besides trichinosis larvae die out at 137 degrees. Look. I want you to look at that. My neighbor McGregor just put that fence in and I'm pretty sure he's about an inch over the line. Go check it out, go on!

    Now in preparation for landing, we are going to actually rest the meat in a little kind of canoe made out of aluminum foil. So just take a piece like this, fold it over, and seal the ends so it looks kind of like a little dugout, if you would. And you want to make sure that the ends are relatively watertight. There. Nothing to do but turn and time.

[turns meat a total of five times]

1  2  3  4  5

    Ah, that looks good. A nice char, but not too Pompeii like. And we actually have a temperature of 141 degrees, we only missed it by a degree. So that is good. Now we need to get this into our little dugout, you remember that. That goes in and we'll pour on the reserved marinade. Right on top. There. Now just crimp this down to make a nice tight seal and we'll let this sit for at least ten minutes before serving.
    Now, some science types may still debate the merits of a pre-cook marinade period ...

S #1 & #2 [cross yard still pushing and shoving one another]

... but the benefits of a post-cook soak are less debatable. That's because of something called capillary action.


    [voiceover] You see, heat damages the meat structure during cooking, creating tiny fissures along the meat fibers. As the meat cools and the interior pressure diminishes, many of these fissures will automatically take in surrounding liquid, such as your marinade. Thus, we can achieve deeper flavor penetration after cooking than before.

pork tenderloin

The Kitchen

GUEST: Doctor

    [sitting at the table] Sliced on the bias and sprinkled with some cilantro, you've got yourself a fast and flavorful main course. But, well, I guess eating all this at once would be bad.

DOCTOR: Actually, according to the USDA, a three ounce portion of pork tenderloin only contains 2.98 grams of fat compared to an equal portion of skinless chicken breast, which contains 3.03 grams of fat. Plus, pork is packed with B vitamins and plenty of iron.
AB: And it doesn't taste one bit like chicken.
D: No, it doesn't. Still, you shouldn't eat all of this at once.

    Not to worry, I know an even better pork tenderloin trick that has the added benefit of a prestigious pedigree.

    [laying on the floor in front of a battle model] On Sunday, June 18th 1815, French forces under the command of one Napoleon Bonaparte got their clocks cleaned in a muddy little hole called Waterloo by a combined Prussian and English force.

Napoleon Bonaparte

    Now the English were commanded by an Irishman named Arthur Wellesly, the first Duke of Wellington. Now as was the habit back in those days, a dish was devised and named for the victory. In this case, a raw tenderloin of beef wrapped in a pastry crust and cooked, Beef Wellington. Now the dish was in and out of fashion all the way until the 1960s, by which time it had accumulated things like truffles, foie gras, and cooked mushrooms and whatnot. And then obscurity for some 30-something years. Well, I say it's time for a triumphant return, only with pork tenderloin.

Arthur Wellesly

Beef Wellington

    If you're a faithful fan of this show, you no doubt have frozen puff pastry in your freezer right now. Remove one sheet, place on clean kitchen towel, cover and thaw for 30 to 45 minutes.
1 Sheet Puff Pastry, Thawed
    Hot box to 400, rack upper third.

400 Degrees

    [at spice cabinet] Now my standard M.O. for a pork roast not going to the grill, is to add a spice, a fruit, and an herb. So I'm thinking mustard, whole grain, Apples, dried, and some fresh thyme. Now these are all assertive flavors, so we're going to back up the pork itself with some cured pork, which can also serve as a wrapper: say four and a half ounces of prosciutto, the famed salted, air-cured, but un-smoked ham from Italy. Now depending on the cut, it's going to take anywhere from five to ten very, very thin pieces. It's expensive stuff, but a little goes a long way. Oh, we're also going to need one egg beaten with a tablespoon of water, and, of course, one pork tenderloin. 4 Ounces Thinly Sliced
    Prosciutto Ham
    Before going any further, take one ounce of the apples for a spin around your favorite food processor until they look something like this [rough chop]. 1 Ounce Dried Apples, Diced

Hernando de Soto introduced the first pigs to America
when he landed in Tampa, Florida in 1539.

The Kitchen

    Okay, I have here one tenderloin already liberated of its silverskin. I'm going to split it down the middle with a sharp boning knife. And in order to kind of even up the size at both ends for even cooking, I'm going to flip this end [one of the halves of the loin] over here. There. 1 Whole Pork Tenderloin,

    Now just lay out your prosciutto pieces, as many as it takes, just overlapping, so they go from one side to the other. [places them between parchment paper] Roll over them with a rolling pin, that'll kind of knit the fat together.

    Now this is going to get some seasoning: one teaspoon of the fresh thyme goes on, followed by one-fourth teaspoon of both kosher salt and black pepper. Now the meat goes back on. There. 1 tsp. Fresh Thyme,
tsp. Each Kosher Salt &
    Freshly Ground Black

    And the apples are going to go right down the middle. Then we're going to roll this up. Now the important thing is that the end of the prosciutto tucks under. So kind of roll it over and then pull the parchment away. That'll make sure that the prosciutto stays put. And then just roll and kind of pull, roll and pull. There, that looks great. Now just set this aside.
    Now, a little flour goes on the board to prevent sticking. And we bring forth the pastry. Now we're basically looking for a 12-by-14 piece. So just start rolling. And don't forget to change directions or you'll end up with something that looks like an amoeba. And that's never good eats.

    Now the mustard, and I've just got two tablespoons, whole grain. Get it as thin as you possibly can, otherwise, it'll pool up. [spreads it long ways just in the middle] There. Position your pork roll right over that, and roll. We've got just a couple of inches left. You're going to want to apply the egg wash, and that's going to kind of glue things together. There. Now roll, pinch the ends. Okay, now move that to a half sheet pan that has some parchment paper on it. And brush the top for even browning. To the oven! 2 Tbs. Whole Grain Mustard

1 Egg + 1 Tbs. Water

     [at oven] Cook until the internal temperature reaches 140 degrees and the exterior is golden brown and delicious. It's going to take 25 to 30 minutes. So go ahead and set your timer for 25. And remember, if your oven has a history of uneven cooking, you're going to want to rotate the pan halfway through the process.
    [at table] Now that is what I call pig-in-a-blanket. Now you're going to be sorely tempted to carve right into that straight from the oven. Do not. Move it to a cooling rack and let it have ten minutes to just sit and gather itself. That'll allow the outside crust to solidify. When you do cut, serrated knife is the only tool for the job. Now this is the really cool part. Use nice long strokes ... and you will be rewarded. That is a beautiful cut of meat. I like to serve it nice and thick like this.
    Now what I love about this dish, besides the fact that it's absolutely delicious, is that it looks like it took hours to prepare even though it didn't. I love that!
    [at window] Well, I hope we've inspired you to put down that chicken and seek out the most miraculous cylinder of meaty goodness around. The pork tenderloin. Why, I bet if we just spread the word, in no time we'd see some real positive change. [looks out with binoculars and sees same people in scene 1 dressed as pigs] See you next time on Good Eats.

Transcribed by Jennifer Schleicher
Proofread by Michael Menninger

Hit Counter

Last Edited on 08/27/2010