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Lost Italian: Herb-encrusted pork tenderloin roast an easy weeknight dinner

Herb-encrusted pork tenderlion.Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor1 / 4
Remove the pork tenderloin from the oven when golden brown with an internal temperature of 145 degrees.Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor2 / 4
Herb-encrusted pork tenderloin is served with whipped potatoes, brown gravy and asparagus. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor3 / 4
Sear pork tenderloin over medium-high heat on all sides.Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor4 / 4

Pork tenderloin is typically my go-to protein whenever I need a quick and easy dinner. This extra-lean cut of meat is full of flavor, super versatile and as lean as a skinless chicken breast. It's even easier to work with, too, because several servings can be gleaned from one tenderloin.

Last week, I had an evening event to attend, so I needed a dinner plan that could be executed, from start to finish, within a 90-minute window.

The night before, I conducted a quick survey of the contents of my refrigerator, freezer and pantry which revealed an inventory that included pork tenderloin, fresh parsley, rosemary and thyme, lemon, granulated garlic, Dijon mustard, parmesan cheese and panko breadcrumbs.

Voila — a recipe was born. I pulled the pork from my freezer to let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then trundled off to bed, happy that I wouldn't need to make an extra trip to the grocery store in the morning.

I started my dinner prep by searing the tenderloin in a hot pan, on all sides, until it was an even golden brown. Then I placed the seared meat in the fridge for about 10 to 15 minutes, until it was cool enough to coat with Dijon mustard. If the meat is too warm, the mustard won't adhere.

As the meat chilled, I prepared the coating by mixing finely chopped herbs with panko breadcrumbs and added a touch of lemon zest and granulated garlic for extra flavor. Breadcrumbs are a staple in our pantry, and even though we also had plain and Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs in supply, I chose the Japanese-style panko breadcrumbs for this recipe because I love the crunchy texture.

For folks who like to plan ahead, you could sear the tenderloin and prepare the herb-breadcrumb mixture the night before, so that all you'd need to do the next day is coat the tenderloin and roast it. (If my pork tenderloin hadn't needed to thaw overnight, this is what I would have done.)

Once the pork cooled, I coated the entire tenderloin with Dijon mustard, including both ends. Then I dredged the mustard-coated tenderloin in the breadcrumb mixture and rolled it until it was totally encrusted.

I transferred the tenderloin to a lightly greased baking sheet and roasted it in a 375-degree oven for about 30 to 40 minutes, until the crust was a medium-golden brown and an internal temperature of 145 to degrees was achieved. Whenever we roast or grill any kind of meat, we always use a meat thermometer to ensure a safe and accurate temperature is reached.

I rounded out our menu with some whipped potatoes and brown gravy, which were left over from a Norwegian meatball dinner earlier in the week.

An hour later, we were sitting down to supper, which was so good that my family had no idea how easy it was for me to prepare. I was out the door by 6:30, and even arrived early for my meeting. Pork tenderloin, you never let me down.

*The brown gravy recipe is posted on our blog this week so visit us online at www.thelostitalian.areavoices.com.

Herb Encrusted Pork Tenderloin Roast

Serves : 4 to 6 or halve the recipe for 2 to 3 servings

Ingredients:

2 1-pound whole pork tenderloins

For each tenderloin, use:

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

For the crust:

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped, stem removed

1 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped, stem removed

1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped

¼ teaspoon granulated garlic (or garlic powder)

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

¼ teaspoon lemon zest

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Lightly season each tenderloin on all sides with ½ teaspoon kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper.

In a medium sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until hot. Sear each tenderloin, one at a time, on all sides until golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes per side (at most).

Transfer seared tenderloins to a plate and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes, until cool. Prepare the coating as the meat chills.

In a shallow rectangular baking dish, combine all of the ingredients for the crust until well mixed.

Once the meat has cooled, use a pastry brush to generously coat each tenderloin with Dijon mustard, covering all sides evenly. One at a time, place each tenderloin in the breadcrumb mixture and use your hands to evenly coat the entire piece of meat.

Transfer the tenderloins to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast for 30 to 40 minutes, until the crust is a rich golden brown and an internal temperature of 145 degrees (medium) is achieved. Use a meat thermometer for accuracy.

Remove from oven, cover dish with tin foil and let the meat rest for 10 minutes before carving. Slice into half-inch medallions and serve.

Advance prep:

• 24 hours before: Sear the meat then wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate. Prepare herb and breadcrumb mixture, cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature.

• 2 hours before: Apply the Dijon mustard and herb-crumb coating; place tenderloins on baking sheet lined with parchment paper, lightly cover and refrigerate until ready to roast

Sarah's tips:

• Remove any connective tissue on the top of your tenderloin, but leave any small bits of fat on for best flavor.

• Tenderloins are not big pieces of meat, and oven temperatures vary, so use a meat thermometer to start checking the tenderloin for doneness at 25 minutes to prevent over-cooking.

• If the pork reaches 145 degrees before the crust has turned a rich, golden brown, drizzle some olive oil over the top of the tenderloin, from end to end, and continue baking until the crust is done.

• Allowing the meat to rest for 10 minutes before carving helps keep all the juices from running out when slicing.

• Pork loin may be used instead of tenderloin, and you will need to increase the cooking time by at least 5 to 10 minutes.

• If using pork loin, leave the top layer of fat on for best flavor.

• Garlic powder may be used in place of granulated garlic.

• Experiment with different styles of mustard, according to your taste.

"Home With the Lost Italian" is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. Readers can reach them at sarahnasello@gmail.com.

All previous recipes can be found at " target="_blank">thelostitalian.areavoices.com.

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