One of the trickiest parts about cooking a whole pork tenderloin is the fact that it is almost entirely free of fat. This could prove to be a problem for prolonged cooking scenarios like roasting, in which the meat could—and most likely will—get dried out from being in the oven so long. One way to avoid this problem is to bard the roast with fat. Barding is a classical French style of cooking in which the meat is draped, wrapped, or covered with a fatty substance, such as bacon, lard, or fatback. The bard is usually fastened to the meat with string, but a toothpick may be used in some cases, or nothing at all, as it is with this recipe.
1. Pick up a pork tenderloin and some good bacon. The pork tenderloin should look and smell fresh. The bacon can be just about any type you can imagine. For this article, I used half regular smoked bacon and half Black Forest smoked bacon. The contrast of having two distinct bacons was very nice, indeed.
2. Weave the bacon together into a mat. Weaving a pound of bacon together to form a "mat of meat" was the logical choice when figuring out how to wrap a whole pork tenderloin with bacon. It seemed like it would be much easier than wrapping one piece around at a time. Plus, this technique ensures total coverage, with the added benefit of extra bacon fat and flavor.
3. Wrap the pork tenderloin with the bacon mat. Amazingly, a pork tenderloin is the exact same length as a strip of bacon. Coincidence or Providence? However, you may find that the bacon mat is larger than needed. If this is the case, trim the bacon. Don't worry about fastening the bacon mat to the pork tenderloin; it will stay so long as you're careful during cooking.
4. Heat up a large skillet and sear the bacon seam. Find a skillet or frying pan that is large enough to fit the whole pork tenderloin, about 10–12 inches should do it. As you heat up the frying pan, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Using both hands, lay the bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin into the hot frying pan, seam down. Allow the bacon to fuse for a couple minutes before moving it to the preheated oven.
5. Put the bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin into a 400 degree oven. Let the bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin roast for 20–30 minutes before you check the internal temperature. Use a digital thermometer stuck in the very center of the thickest part. Once it reads 140–150 degrees, take the roast out of the oven, set it on a rack, and leave uncovered to rest for 15 minutes before slicing into portions.
Chose a nice looking pork tenderloin that looks and smells fresh. Quality is very important when dealing with expensive cuts of meat.
It is unnecessary to season the pork tenderloin before you wrap it. The bacon will provide all the flavor needed.
You can fold the little tail of the pork tenderloin back on itself to shorten and thicken that end of the roast. It will also help to keep the tenderloin from overcooking on that end.
Choose quality bacons that are strongly flavored. Seriously, don't skimp on the bacon.
If the bacon isn't as crispy as you'd like it, put the bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin under the broiler for the last 5 minutes of cooking. Be sure to keep an eye on it!
Save the bacon fat in the bottom of the pan and use it to fry vegetables.
Let the bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin rest for at least 15 minutes before you cut it up, otherwise the juices will all run out and the meat will be dry.