Men Who Cook: Kirk Spencer, Pork Tenderloin Confit

From the Men Who Cook series, Kirk Spencer offers another tasty recipe:

Here’s another fun one to try:

Pork Tenderloin Confit

It’s a three-step process: curing, preserving, and cooking.

Step one, Curing: You’ll do this 12-18 hours before the next step time. Make a curing rub of approximately 1 cup coarse salt and seasonings of choice. For your first run I’m going to recommend about 10 cloves of garlic and 10 sprigs of fresh thyme. Smash the cloves, strip the leaves from the sprigs, and toss with the salt to mix thoroughly. Now in a pan large enough to hold the tenderloin make a bed of half the cure, put the tenderloin on it, and sprinkle the rest on top. Take any that’s loose and pat it on the sides so the whole loin is covered. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator.

Step two, preserving: Set your oven to 200 degrees F (180 F if you can manage it). Melt about two pounds of butter. Remove the loin from the refrigerator and rinse off the salt, then place in a clean oven-proof dish that will hold it. Pour the butter over the top. If the loin is not covered by at least half an inch, melt and add more butter. Put in the oven for approximately 3 hours. (NOTE: You’re poaching this loin in butter.) Two tests for done – the traditional skewer (the meat will give almost no resistance when done) and the temperature test (aim for 165 internal).

The following is optional but explains why this step is preserving, not cooking. Pull the pan out of the oven, let it cool for half an hour, then put meat into a quart masonry jar. Strain the butter through a cheesecloth, and pour enough into the jar to fully cover the loin. Close with a lid, and place in refrigerator. Keep for one week to three months. The flavors will intensify over time, but at three months it’s supposedly getting a bit strong. (I don’t know. I’ve never lasted past a month.)

FINISHING: Two options: For both, slice the loin into medallions. If you’re finishing instead of preserving, you can serve these hot, buttery loin medallions as is. Alternately, put medallions with a bit of the butter in a hot skillet to brown both sides – about two minutes on a side. This can be done with the cold or hot loin medallions. I really like serving these with parboiled and parsleyed new potatoes and red cabbage, but have been known to use buttered noodles (yes, more butter) and a cold pea salad as well.

Confit is a traditional means of preservation. Poach the meat in fat till it’s done, then let the fat solidify around it and store in a cool location. Traditionally you do this with a fatty meat (duck and goose being the most famous) and use its own fat. I’ve discovered that poaching in butter is delicious, too, and works for oh so many other meats.

Use either or neither, and good luck,

Kirk

Thanks Kirk.  For more of Kirk’s recipes and thought on life in general, check out his blog:  Mental Meanderings