Baked Pork Tenderloin with Jerk Rub

Quick summary:  Apply a heavy coating of dry rub to the pork tenderloin.  Bake at 400 degrees for thirty to forty minutes until an internal temperature of 150 degrees is reached.

If you want to make your own jerk paste give this recipe a try:

  • Juice of one lime
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 seeded habenero pepper, fine diced
  • One inch peeled ginger, sliced thin, then diced
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

I will pulse the mix with a hand blender until smooth. I know the habenero pepper will look scary to some folks but if you remove all of the seeds the heat level is pretty mild. I will actually use three peppers if I want to have any real heat in my jerk paste.

Baked pork tenderloin
Jerk rubbed pork tenderloin

Longer version:  There are several other approaches to baking or roasting pork tenderloins.

  • Sear all sides in a skillet and then finish in the oven.
  • Start in a scorching hot oven and then lower the temperature.
  • Bake at a low temperature and then finish under the broiler.

I don’t bother with any of those approaches; it’s just to “busy” and I don’t see the point.  You are only trying to accomplish two things while baking pork tenderloin; getting the center of the meat to 150 degrees and making the meat delicious.    The three common methods outlined above all involve application of intense heat at some point with the intent of adding flavor through the formation of a browned surface.  The browning of the surface comes with the confusion of what is the best way and often results in cooks over cooking or even burning the tenderloin.

Relax, it’s not that hard!  Skip the whole browning of the meat routine and just bake the tenderloin.  Use whatever temperature makes you happy; 275 degrees will take about an hour and a half while 450 degrees will take about twenty minutes.  The only real requirement is to use a good thermometer and pay attention to what you are doing; take the tenderloin out of the oven the moment it reaches 150 degrees Do not go by my time and temperature as no two ovens are the same. Go by the internal temperature of the tenderloin. If you don’t have a good digital thermometer then buy one now. This one is good, this one is better.   If you have brined your pork tenderloin then you can be a little sloppy on your temperature and pull it a few degrees later.

I skip the whole browning step because the flavor that would provide would be completely insignificant compared to the flavors introduced by dry rubs, marinades and brines.

I had not planned ahead when I made this pork tenderloin so I hadn’t had time to brine.  Instead I bought a plain Hormel “Always Fresh” pork tenderloin which is essentially a pre-brined product.  I applied a heavy coat of dry rub and let the tenderloin sit in the refrigerator for an hour.  I brought the tenderloin back out of the fridge and allowed it to warm on the counter for twenty minutes before baking in a 400 degree oven for thirty five minutes.

Close up of pork tenderloin with jerk rub
Pack on the flavor and skip the browning.

The dry rub I used was a special blend, Old Florida Key Lime Jerk, from Homebbq.com (sadly this company is no longer selling any rubs).  This is a company run by a highly successful competitive barbecue chef, Kevin Bevington, and I encourage you to check out his site.  I sent Kevin an e-mail asking which of his dry rubs would be best for pork tenderloin and this is what he recommended.  This rub had most of the usual suspects (garlic, salt, sugar) but also included some allspice and cloves which really stood out.  There were just enough pepper flakes to make your mouth take notice but not so much as to call this rub “hot”.   This was a high quality, very flavorful rub that worked great with the pork tenderloin.

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