November 14, 2014 by Jason Rice MD
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, then you probably know that pork tenderloin is one of my go-to proteins.
If you’re a fan of meat, then you probably also know that the esteemed filet mignon comes from a cut known as tenderloin as well, just a different animal.
(And, if you’ve followed my writing style in the past, you probably know that I like to open with two statements and then bring them together in one dish. So, you probably know where we’re going here…)
After roasting an unknown number of whole pork tenderloins and slicing dozens more for thin medallions, it finally occurred to me that the pork tenderloin could be butchered into thick filets just like a beef tenderloin.
I originally wanted to call this post “Pork Mignon” but I realized I wasn’t really sure what that meant. And, let’s face it, “bacon-wrapped” is the best click bait on the internet…
So, get yourself some pork and some more pork to wrap it with, and let’s do this!
Bacon Wrapped Pork
- Pork tenderloin, cut into 1 1/2 – 2 inch thick filets
- Steak Rub (or simple salt and pepper if you prefer)
Mashed Potatoes (optional)
- Potatoes, gold or red
- Butter, 1/2 stick
- Sour cream (or milk)
- Pork/bacon drippings
Preheat your oven to 425.
If you’re going to make the mashed potatoes, which I highly recommend, peel and quarter the potatoes before starting the pork as the potatoes will take longer to cook. Place the quartered potatoes into a pot and salt liberally. Cover with enough water to cover the potatoes. The best way to salt mashed potatoes is by salting the water, so to be sure you’ve seasoned enough, taste the water to see if it tastes salty. If not, add a little more salt. Place the pot on the stove on high and let the water come up to a boil while you’re preparing the pork. Once the water boils, the potatoes should boil for about 20 minutes or until fork tender.
Now, back to the pork. Trim the extra fat and silver skin off of the pork, and then slice into thick filets. When you get towards the tail, the tenderloin may be too narrow. I kept roughly the last 4 inches of the tail as one piece so that it wouldn’t dry out.
Season the meat on both sides with steak rub. I really like this blend from Urban Accents, but any steak seasoning will work well – including plain salt and pepper.
Wrap each filet in bacon. They’re small, so I found about a half slice of bacon worked well.
The narrow tail of the tenderloin will probably take a little more bacon if you kept it intact like I did.
Heat a cast iron skillet on the stove over medium high heat. Once hot, add the pieces of pork to get a sear on the bacon. I found that it was more work than it was worth to try to sear both sides since it’s tough to flip the filets without losing the bacon. Sear for 3 or 4 minutes, and then place the skillet into the pre-heated oven.
The pork should cook for about 20-25 minutes depending on your oven and your desired doneness. Pork can be safely eaten medium rare, and I definitely like to keep my pork juicy. I typically go more to medium than medium rare, but I stay away from well done pork because pork dries out quickly (even draped in bacon).
I used an uncured bacon, so it didn’t brown as much as some other types, but it crisped up beautifully. Like all cuts of meat, these little filets should be allowed to rest for a few minutes after coming out of the oven before cutting into them.
This should give you time to finish up the mashed potatoes. I generally keep my mashed potatoes very simple. Once the potatoes are cooked, strain the water away. The only ingredients needed here are butter and some type of liquid dairy. Milk is the standard, but you can use sour cream if you’d like a little extra body and tang. As for the butter, I don’t think there is any adequate substitute. I’m also a big fan of the fact that many companies are now selling butter wrapped in half sticks, which is pretty much the perfect “dose” for mashed potatoes.
I mash my potatoes by hand. I do this for a number of reasons. First, it’s less cleanup. Second, I enjoy having control over the final texture of the potatoes. Sometimes I like a little more rustic feel with some chunks, and other times I want a silky smooth whip. A hand masher makes it much easier to control this.
At this point, you have my basic mashed potatoes. But, you also have a skillet full of bacon drippings. I have a strong aversion to creating bacon drippings and not using them.
Sure, you could put it in a jar and save it for a soup starter or something. But, you know, there’s a perfectly good pot of mashed potatoes sitting right there that doesn’t taste like bacon. And, well, it could taste like bacon. So…um…yeah, go ahead and mash the bacon drippings into the potatoes.
The meat has been rested. The potatoes have been baconed (yep, just used bacon as a verb). Time to get it on a plate and eat!
I am by no means suggesting that this is a replacement to a beef filet mignon, but it’s a nice departure from the standard roasted tenderloin I usually make. It’s also a very affordable meal that looks impressive on the plate for adult guests while also being a perfect size for smaller eaters who can easily eat a whole piece. Enjoy!