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I realise there are a couple of similar questions hereabouts, but this is a specific case.

I currently have sitting in the fridge a pork tenderloin (fillet) coated in a paste rub of ancho and chipotle chillis, garlic, cumin and oil. With an 'unrubbed' tenderloin I'd normally sear each side in a hot pan and roast for 25 minutes or so at about 180C/350F (my wife refuses to eat slightly pink pork).

However, what with the garlic and spices on this particular pork, I want to avoid searing and thus very likely burning them. So, am I better off just roasting for longer at 180/350 or should I crank up the heat to say 200-220/390-430 and keeping it at 25 mins? Or perhaps an initial blast then lower the temp and cover with foil?

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2 Answers 2

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A normal domestic oven never heats strong enough to produce a crisp crust. This is why pan searing is usually done: the direct heat transfer causes the maillard reaction which is impossible in the oven. As no setting in the oven will give you that, you are better off using lower temperature. It takes longer, but makes for a more even heating, which results in a better roast with a smaller heat-gradient-overdried part.

If you want your browned surface, you will have to give it a good heat blast before/during/after the cooking. I agree that a pan sear will probably ruin the seasoning. If your oven has a grill, you can use it. It shouldn't matter if you start with the grilling and then roast to the end after the skin is good, or first roast it almoast ready and then grill it until the crust is OK. Any way, counting the time spent under heat will probably not be acurate enough with this technique. You can try it, but the error probability without an oven thermometer is quite high.

The other possibility are open flames. A kitchen butan burner seems to be the tool of choice for sous-videers, who of course never get a crust in the cooker. But it will probably char the spices even more than the pan searing method. You could get creative and finish the outside of the meat on a charcoal grill. The reason nobody makes thick steaks and roasts on it is that they don't cook through. With a preroasted meat, this won't be a problem.

If all this sounds like too much trouble to go through for a simple roast, you can just roast it slowly and eat crustless. Just because a crust is traditional, it doesn't mean it has to be there every time.

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I'm not all that bothered about a crust per se; I'd rather have no crust and a nice moist tenderloin. I'm also considering wrapping it in foil, roasting for 20 mins, then opening for the final 10, to dry out and colour the outside just a little. I have done this with chicken cordon bleu and chicken balmoral before now and both worked out well. –  ElendilTheTall Jun 23 '11 at 13:03
    
In that case, the slowest and most even heat will give you the best (mositest?) result. Foil sounds like a very good idea, the meat will be steamed/stewed on the outside and roasted on the inside, so you won't have a dried out surface. –  rumtscho Jun 23 '11 at 13:59
    
I cooked it at about 200C for 30 mins, 20 mins covered in foil, last ten open, and it came out perfectly. –  ElendilTheTall Jun 23 '11 at 17:28
    
I'm going to have to disagree with a couple of things in this answer. First, the maillard reaction occurs at temperatures under 350 degrees F, and any standard oven will easily be able to reach that. Secondly, any standard oven will also be able to produce a crisp crust on meat. It's a simple matter of time and moisture. Patting the meat dry and rubbing it will oil will speed things up. Put it under the top element and turn the oven to broiler and I guarantee you can get browning to nearly match a hot skillet. –  Christopher Cashell Sep 7 at 5:45

Think "Beef Wellington" and substitute the pork tenderloin. Roll the tenderloin in puff pastry and bake. See Alton Brown's Pork Wellington recipe for some ideas. Obviously you already have a rub on, but AB's recipe's cooking instructions should still apply.

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Unfortunately it's for tonight and I have no puff pastry. Also I'm not sure it would go with the Tex-Mex feel of the rub - perhaps a tortilla or two would be better :) –  ElendilTheTall Jun 23 '11 at 13:02
    
wrap it in a couple of tortillas and bake... sounds like a perfect solution. –  Cos Callis Jun 23 '11 at 13:13
    
Unfortunately I don't have any tortillas either! :D –  ElendilTheTall Jun 23 '11 at 15:05
    
@ElendilTheTall: Perhaps a pate a choux dough? ruhlman.com/2009/12/pate-a-choux-video –  J.T. Hurley Jun 23 '11 at 16:52
1  
Do you have a grocery store? ;oD –  Cos Callis Jun 23 '11 at 16:53

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