Pork Loin…or tenderloin? - Carolina Country

Pork Loin…or Tenderloin?

By Wendy Perry

Pork Loin…or Tenderloin?

Pork tenderloin differs from pork loin in size, composition and cut. Learn the best ways to cook both!

Did you know there is a difference in pork loin, and pork tenderloin? So much so, that they need completely different cooking methods. For starters, they come from different parts of the pig.

Loin (from the back) is big and thick and can be cut into steaks, chops or roasted whole. Loins may or may not have bone. It has little marbling and will benefit from a quick pan sear then slow, low cooking in the oven or crock pot. Another way to cook loin is to slice into chops and grill, but not for too long! The most important thing to remember is to not overcook loin.

Tenderloin or filet (backbone muscle) is small and will never have bone. Very lean, it is much smaller in size, and too much cooking will just ruin a good tenderloin. While loins average 2 to 5 pounds, tenderloins are usually around 1 pound or less. Best to quick grill or pan sear. Tenderloins like to be marinated and work great sliced thin in stir fry dishes. Be sure to trim the thin tough sliver skin before cooking. Tenderloin is just that — tender — or should be.

Unfortunately, many restaurants serve “tenderloin biscuits” that are not tenderloin at all, but loin (due to price). But they can’t fool those of us who know our pork! Just note that these two cuts of pork cannot be substituted for each other. Also important: the USDA has deemed 145 degrees to be a safe temp for whole (not ground) cuts of pork. Get yourself a meat thermometer instead of guessing to keep your pork nice and juicy … and tender! And remove from heat at about 140 degrees since it will keep cooking a bit once removed.

Sage pork medallions

Ready to try it?

You can use either pork loin or tenderloin in this recipe for Sage Pork Medallions with Cherry-Madeira Pan Sauce.

Get the Recipe

About the Author

Wendy Perry, a culinary adventurist and blogger, chats about goodness around NC on her blog at WendysHomeEconomics.com.

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