September 05, 2002
Tenderloin Take Two

Since pork tenderloins are usually sold two to a package, we had another one left over from Tuesday. I decided to slice it up into medallions this time and try to develop some crust by sautéing instead of baking.

I also let the whole thing soak in a flavor brine for about six hours. In my mind, flavor brining is one of the best things that you can do to meat. A brine is essentially a solution of sugar and salt dissolved in water plus any flavoring that you want to add. Through the wonders of osmosis and diffusion, the salt, sugar, flavorings, and some of the water are magically transported into the meat. The salt begins to denature the proteins it finds, thereby softening the meat. The sugar and flavorings give the meat your flavor of choice. The extra water makes the meat more juicy and, at least in pork, can prevent it from drying out when it is cooked.

I think that my brine had a bit too much sugar in it. Oh, it tasted delicious, but the crust that I was trying for during sautéing never had a chance to develop before the sugar in the pork started to caramelize. I took the medallions out of the pan before they got burned sugar crusts. The juices left in the pan, however, did get a really dark brown -- too dark to salvage for a pan sauce.

For more background on brining and some basic recipes check out this site.