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Try My Secret Weapon for Making Extra Tender Pork

Why is pork tenderloin often so tough? Cook a cutlet and by the time it's no longer pink in the middle, it's rubbery and dry. At least that's what I experienced way too many times until Jacques Pepin turned me into a pork tenderloin cooking pro with one simple tool: Grab a mallet and let's start whacking!

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This tool will make you a pork tenderloin cooking pro, promise! Photo by Leslie Kelly

Merci, Jacques!

Jacques Pepin is one of my very favorite celebrity chefs because he's got a no-nonsense approach to cooking. His recipes aren't fussy, but they taste fancy. When he says "Happy Cooking!" at the end of his popular PBS shows, that describes exactly how I feel when making his recipes. My husband and I take turns trying new dishes from his vast library of cookbooks, and we've had nothing but wins. Some preparations have become all-time faves, mostly those with a short list of ingredients that involve little prepping. The pork palliards are quick to go from the stove to the table and get raves every time.

Prepping Doubles as Stress Relief

I've had a kitchen mallet for years, but it was neglected until I started making this recipe that involves just four steps:

  • Slice the tenderloin into 2-inch thick pieces.
  • Using the smooth side of the tool meant for tenderizing, I smack those slices. Bam, bam, bam any stress from the day melts away.
  • Those "palliards" are seasoned simply, with fresh rosemary, salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil and they're ready to cook.
  • Sear the thin slices in a hot skillet -- I use a grill pan -- for about 3 minutes per side. While finishing the rest of the meal, set aside in a 275-degree oven for another 5 minutes.

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Simply seasoned, these pounded pork tenderloins require little prep. Photo by Leslie Kelly

20 Minutes Later... Dinner is Served

Pounding helps break down the natural fibers in the meat, turning it tender. And because the pounded pork is about an inch thick, it cooks more quickly, eliminating the possibility that the meat will dry out.

Another reason I love this dish? It goes with all sorts of sides, from roasted sweet potatoes to mushroom risotto, or Cacio e Pepe, also known as the Italian version of cheesy macaroni. When it comes to pairing with wine, this juicy pork partners well with a dry white like Sauvignon blanc, as well as a fruity Riesling, but it can also stand up to a light red like Pinot noir or Grenache. Happy eating!

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Pork tenderloin palliards go with all sorts of sides. Photo by Leslie Kelly

Find more articles and tips like this on Allrecipes Dish.

About Leslie Kelly

Always hungry to learn, never had my fill of oysters, Memphis dry rub ribs, wild salmon, chocolate chip cookies or a well-rolled lumpia. Washington state wine lover, bourbon fan. Totally obsessed with brunch!