Many bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin recipes seem to have two things in common that I can’t force myself to agree with: use of generous amounts of sweeteners like brown sugar or honey and skipping pan-searing prior to roasting. For pork tenderloin to taste great it doesn’t need to be covered in a thick layer of honey glaze. I find that it overpowers meat and seasonings and ruins the flavor profile. I also find that subtle sweetness from onions, shallots or fruit, like peaches, is much more appropriate and interesting. If you up for a less sweet and more herb-y tenderloin, tender inside and with an an amazingly crisp bacon skin, try this recipe. You will love it.
Now, bacon is always a welcome addition. The more the better. To an extent, of course. However, I think it’s a big mistake to wrap raw bacon around tenderloin and expect it to come out nice and crispy after a 20 minute bake in the oven. It never will! It will remain pale and rubbery. Some suggest using a broiler, but that’s a patch solution that will only result in dried out, even charred if not careful, top. The sides and the bottom will get no benefit.
Take a look at some of my experiments:
Bacon-wrapped chicken breast was pan-seared and turned out great. with a crispy exterior.
Bacon-wrapped chicken kebabs were baked as is and finished under a broiler. Still, the bacon was noticeably softer, more pale and chewier. It’s a great recipe in general but the bacon would definitely benefit from pan-searing or grilling.
The solution? Wrap bacon around tenderloins and pan-sear on all sides until you get a beautiful, mouth-watering caramelization. Be careful not to overcook. One to two minutes, depending on how hot the pan is, on each side is sufficient. Then roast in the oven until the tenderloin is ready.
For a touch of sweetness I like to use peaches, onions or shallots. In this recipe, I rubbed tenderloins with a mix that contains minced shallots. You don’t need a lot. Fresh thyme really complements pork, as do garlic and shallots. I love this combination and the flavor profile they create.
Pan-Seared Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin Recipe
- 2 pork tenderloins fat and sinew trimmed off
- 2 Tbsp olive oil or butter
- 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves plus more for garnish
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 2 shallots minced or grated
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tsp sea or kosher salt
- 10 low sodium bacon strips
Preheat oven to 425F.
Combine the mustard, garlic, shallots, salt pepper and thyme leaves. Rub pork tenderloins with the mix. Somewhat loosely, wrap bacon strips around the tenderloins, 5 strips per tenderloin. Bacon will shrink during cooking. If you wrap too tight it will begin to unwrap during cooking. Set aside.
Heat butter or oil in a large cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Place bacon-wrapped tenderloins in the pan and sear for about 1-2 minutes, until the bacon is nicely browned. Flip and sear for another 1-2 minutes. Repeat on both sides.
Place the pan with the tenderloins in the oven and bake for about 15-20 minutes, until the internal temperature hits 140F. The internal temperature will rise to the safe temp of 145F during resting. Even higher, about 155F, if you let pork tenderloins rest in the hot pan.
Carefully remove the pan from the oven, it will be very hot. Remove tenderloins from the pan, tent and let rest for 5 minutes.
Garnish with fresh thyme leaves and serve with your favorite side dish.
You may also like: Easy Oven-Baked Pork Tenderloin.