How tender is your loin?

Mine is super-tender. So tender, in fact, that I had to double check my thermometer reading to make sure I wouldn’t be innoculating my husband with trichonosis. The thermometer read 138–good enough! Trichonosis dies at 137 F. I pull my pork (Heh!) at 135, let it rest, and it climbs the extra couple of degrees it needs to climb. Still all juicy and tender and pink in the middle. Here’s a good example of a slightly more cooked, but not overcooked specimen, in case you want to cook it properly, but are a little squeamish about outright pinkness.

Which brings me to a thing that pisses me off—Why overcook meat? WHY?? I am technically related to people who eat their meat (heh!) around medium-well to well-done. Not just burgers, either. I’m talking beef tenderloin, pork, fish…it all gets the scorch treatment. I’m not judging (I totally am), I’m just saying that if your preference is to eat meat that is well-done, perhaps you should buy less expensive cuts of meat. Like brisket. Or Doc Martens. They’ll all be the same texture.

In our house, I cook all meat to the doneness that I think is appropriate. I’ve converted PLENTY of people, and I’m sure I’ve affronted plenty of others by not even asking how they like their meat cooked. It would be pointless to ask, because if they said something like “I like my filet cooked medium-well” I would then attempt to cook it medium-well. But once it hit medium-rare, I would see my right arm, posessed with the power of independent thought, reaching toward the spatula and removing the filet from the grill/pan/what have you. I could try to stop it by grabbing it with my left hand, but the battle would be short and fruitless–my right hand is much stronger than my left. I’d then have to sheepishly explain that ol’ righty had ideas of her own, and I was powerless to stop her. And that would make me sound crazy.

An aside: I had an instructor in culinary school who would always tell me my chicken was underdone if it was red directly next to the bone. I tried to explain repeatedly that sometimes during processing, redness next to or on the bone occurs from marrow. No dice. I always got marked down, even if the chicken was technically overcooked.

So the pork tenderloin last night was medium-rare and proud of it. Chris doesn’t even bother to opine on meat doneness anymore. He used to inspect pieces of meat before consuming them. This was early in the relationship. He has since learned to trust me (or to fear my wrath at being questioned re: meat). The tenderloin was rubbed in a Michael Doucharello concoction of cocoa powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander, salt, white pepper, and a smidge of cayenne. A quick sear in the pan, then into the oven until 135 F. After I pulled it, I put it aside to rest and deglazed the pan with port and red wine vinegar. It reduced about 25%. I whisked in some butter, and created a beurre blanc that almost brought me to tears with its insane flavor and texture. I was pleased, because I’ve never made a beurre blanc at home, and I was winging it on this one.

Creamy, buttery polenta and caramelized red onions underneath the pork, drizzle the whole shebang with beurre blanc and KERPOW—delicious dinner.

Red beurre blanc also had the side benefit of obscuring the pinkness of the tenderloin, so if you wanted your pork cooked properly, but didn’t want your older guests to squawk like stuck pigs re: underdone pork, this would be a stupendous way to do it.

By the way, I do keep vicious kitchen organisms in check for the most part. I use separate cutting boards for meat and veggies. I do everything but don a HAZMAT suit to handle chicken. I use my friggin’ awesome ozonator (not technical name, but should be) to de-bacteriafy all of our produce…I just am less careful about things like raw eggs and USDA recs for meat. After all, my immune system is thus far serving me quite well, probably due to hygiene hypothesis (which I believe in. A lot. Go buy your kid a dog, and stop slathering them with antibacterial hand gels. Nothing breaks my heart more than a sickly little kid with overbearing parents).

One last thing–I went onto our SD card to get the photos for this post and found about 20 of these, which I did not take.
Apparently Chris and Chairman Meow have been having sexy photo sessions when I’m not around.

14 thoughts on “How tender is your loin?”

  1. yeah, we usually prescribe to the touch test for our food.

    besides isn't it something like the recommendations for meat being 'done' are about 10 degrees higher than it takes to kill whatever little beasties are lurking there?

  2. That ozonator thing sounds neat, but I get the feeling that their grasp on science is shaky at best. "Breaking oxygen down into atoms" has sort of been done already. And I'm reasonably certain that there's no such thing as "super oxygen" outside of comics.

    Do you have any way to test it to see if it's legit? Maybe their R&D; dept is brilliant and just their marketing dept is full of slow-brain squirrels and it's actually worth getting.

  3. Yeah, I just read it again and it says that it splits the oxygen molecule (I'm going to give this to them and say they meant water molecule) and then adds another…giving them 3 total. At best, the science here is to create hydrogen peroxide from tap water. Which is sort of silly given that H202 is already about as cheap as tap water anyhow. At worst, they are ripping the very fabric of chemistry into angry, flustered little tatters.

    Just saying. I don't have much chemistry knowledge, but what little I do have will not stand for this nonsense.

  4. Actually, we have tested it using nitroblue tetrazolium that Chris took from the hospital lab. It's a test for reactive oxygen in an immune system, but it reacts with blue if the environment is hyperoxygenated…at least that's how I remember Chris explaining it. My grasp of immunology theory isn't even rudimentary. But the point is that we tested it, and it does what it says it does.

    Hospitals have been using hyperoxygenated water for a long time to kill bacteria and viruses. This is the same thing. It was released originally by Waterpik in the 90s (I think) and then taken from the market due to customers not understanding the science enough to believe it was working.

    It is pretty amazing. It can cure things like athletes foot and ringworm, and we used it on Willie's moist eczema with great success.

  5. Didn't your immune system recently reject a certain organ? :-) I actually recently read an interesting article about new research on the appendix and its role in immunity.

    On the meat front, I'm totally down with medium rare pork and beef, but I just never trust chicken. Mostly I kind-of just hate chicken now for some reason. My appetite's dramatic mood swings never cease to amaze me.

  6. My guests eat what I put in
    front of them. Even my wife now
    expects her steaks to be fuchsia, having been coddled in
    a 52 C water bath. Trichinosis is now a non-issue, espcially if you get good meat. Heh. Good meat.

    Ps I'm totally writing this on a phone on vacation.

  7. The only meat that I'll cook for my parents is chicken, for exactly that reason. Pork loin SHOULD have a blush of pink to it, but they find the mere thought to be barbaric. It's amazing that I don't have more food issues, considering that my father used to break out a microscope at the breakfast table and inspect my (not crispy) bacon before it made it to the plate.

  8. Hi Beautiful,
    Ike has a recurring hot spot on his paw, and I'm totally tired of him scraping up my legs with the Elizbethan collar. Will your ozonator technology get rid of it, and if so, how do I get me some of said technology? I don't know who in our family eats brown meat. Are you sure? They never got it off our grill at home unless Daddy got distracted by the History channel…
    Love and Hugs. Momma

  9. Not anyone in our house, mom. I said "technically related," remember?

    I would recommend the ozone, except for that it's kind of expensive to get just to treat hot spots. We use it to clean all of our produce, and have replaced all chemical kitchen cleaners with it as well. That makes it worth the money for us, both fiscally and environmentally.

    They sell them at Bed Bath and Beyond and Sur la table. BBB is cheaper, which is a fact that would have come in handy before we bought it from Sur la table…research, Kristie, research. BBB has them for about $150 for the set.

  10. I love all the references to the other other white MEAT in your post. I love pink meat. Although, as a younger less experienced and less discerning diner I would ask for brown meat. Now, I have no idea how I ate that leathery stuff. Meat can have soooo much flavor if you give it a chance. I have not yet gotten all the way to medium rare…but I am working my way there. But I would totally NOSH on that pork loin. If I ate pork. But it doesn't like me and pretty much always makes me sick. But, I would still have to try a small bite because it looks and sounds dericious. :-)

    OH – and I totally have to get me one of those cool hyper-oxygenator thingies. I love gadgets. Especially kitchen gadgets. And for my intents and purposes, I will call that a kitchen gadget. It will go on the list right behind my KitchenAid Stand Mixer in soft yellow. 😉

  11. I concur, pink meat is always best. Overcooking is terrible.

    And – I swear by everything I hold sacred this is totally true – my captcha is "hymen" =O

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