I was craving pork for some reason: Pork cutlets, pork chops, pork tenderloin...but when I got the market all pork chops and cheaper cuts of pork were sold out. All that was left were tenderloins and, my friend (as McCain would say), they were expensive. Then the butcher told me that over by the bacon area they had tenderloin strips, which I've never seen before. Basically, they are pork tenderloins, but each is no more than 5 to 6 inches long, and skinnier than a regular tenderloin. They are the left over strips from the good cuts of pork tenderloins. Whowould'vethunkit? So, instead of paying 8 bucks a pound for regular, trimmed pork tenderloin, I paid just under 4 dollars a pound for the strips, even though it was basically the same thing...just not as pretty.
The dilemma with pork tenderloin, and pork in general, is that it tends to dry out if you don't cook it properly because it's very lean meat. The sofrito recipe below is the perfect marinade for pork because it gives it tons of flavor and makes it jucier after you cook it. When you make the sofrito, it may seem to have a strong and pungent odor and flavor to you, but the beauty of it is that you only need a little bit to marinate or to cook with. You can use the sofrito as a base for soups, fry it with ground beef or add to your chili, or use it to flavor light flavored fish like cod or sole. The beauty of sofrito is that you can totally create your own special sofrito by changing or adding different ingredients. This one totally works for me, but I'm already thinking up of new sofritos I'll probably experiment with.
Diva's Sofrito (makes about 1.5 cups)
- 2 large green bell peppers, seeded and roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped white onions (about half of a large white onion)
- 2 large garlic cloves, crushed and roughly choppped
- A good handful of cilantro (about half a bunch)
- 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar, or more to taste
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 3 to 4 grinds of fresh, black pepper
In your blender or food processor, add all ingredients and blend or process until you get a paste with a runny consistency with no large chunks. Add more olive oil and/or vinegar, if necessary, and taste and season more, also if necessary. You want a good concentrated, herbaceous flavor that is well seasoned. At this point you can freeze the sofrito in ice trays or in small baggies. You will need 1/4 cup of the sofrito for the marinade below.
Marinated Tenderloin Strips
- 1/4 cup of sofrito
- 1.5 to 2 pounds tenderloin strips
Place ingredients in a large zip-lock baggie and massage sofrito all over the tenderloin. Place in fridge and marinate overnight.
To cook: Remove tenderloin strips from marinade and discard marinade. Sprinkle some kosher salt and more pepper over strips and you can either grill them, pan fry them or bake them. I chose to bake mine in a 375 degree oven, covered with foil for 20 minutes (we have a convection oven, so it cooks really fast). You want the internal temperature to reach 145.
Remove from oven, cover with foil and let rest for 10 minutes before serving. Slice into medallions and serve over nutty, buttered rice and fried plantains or with cheesy grits or grilled veggies or even with roasted potatoes. Your choices are endless!