Red chiles and citrus make this Mexican-inspired Sous Vide Pork Tenderloin sing! Sous vide is a perfect cooking method for “pulling out all the stops” for your holiday menu, prevents over-cooking, and yields moist and tender pork. The red chile-citrus marinated pork tenderloin hangs out in its bath at the perfect internal temperature until you’re ready to sear it, make a quick pan sauce, and serve!
👩🏻🍳 Tamara Talks – About Sous Vide and Red Chiles
Most nights, meal preparation doesn’t exceed 60 minutes… I prefer 30 to 40 minute meals. The holidays and dinner parties are the exception to the rule. Executing an amazing menu for special occasions is pure joy for this kitchen-loving gal!
I got a little bit of a late start with my holiday menu this year, hence the post New Year’s Eve publication. My sous vide gear has been relegated to the back of the appliance black hole, as I’ve not used it since I did the sous vide duck breasts in early 2018.
Why sous vide is great for holiday cooking…
Sous vide is a cooking method well-suited to holiday cooking. Its very gentle heat brings your ingredients to a specified temperature, and holds it there until you’re ready to proceed with the dish. With my red chile marinated and sous vide pork tenderloin, I aimed for 145° internal temperature (medium). When it reached that temperature, it soaked until I was ready to sear it and make the bacon-y pan sauce!
Why use dried red chiles rather than powder?
For weeknight cooking, I use red chile powder – seafood soup, NM red chile posole, and mole spice blend. However, rehydrating dried red chiles is the gold standard. The flavor is more fresh, bold, and fruity.
Rehydrating dried red chile is pretty simple, but does add a bit of time. The chiles need to be de-stemmed and de-seeded, toasted, covered with boiling water, and they need to steep about 15-20 minutes. They then need to be puréed and pressed through a strainer before using.
The marinade for my sous vide pork tenderloin is a simple one – red chile purée, citrus juice and zest, garlic, piloncillo or brown sugar, and toasted cumin seeds. Ideally, the pork tenderloin has additional time outside of its hot water bath, but it’s not completely necessary!
🐖 About Sous Vide Pork Tenderloin
Pork tenderloin is not the most flavorful part of the pig, but it is lean and exceptionally tender. This makes sous vide an excellent cooking method.
Lean meat cooks faster, and is less forgiving than cuts that are marbled with fat. The sous vide method provides the opportunity to build flavor right into the meat as it cooks, and the fact that the cooking process stops at the desired temperature, it is nearly impossible to over cook it!
Once your sous vide pork comes out of its bag, it will be cooked, but not terribly appealing. A quick sear in a hot cast iron skillet, and a simple bacon and shallot pan sauce are all you need to complete this centerpiece dish for your holiday table or date night dinner. See The Food Lab’s Complete Guide to Extra-Juicy Sous Vide Pork Tenderloin for more…
Recommended Sous Vide Pork Tenderloin Temperatures
|Temp and Time||Doneness||Result|
|130°F/54°C for 1 to 4 hours||Medium-rare||Buttery-tender; very juicy|
|140°F/60°C for 1 to 4 hours||Medium||Firm but still tender; moderately juicy|
|150°F/66°C for 1 to 4 hours||Medium-well||Fully firm; moderately juicy|
|160°F/71°C for 1 to 4 hours||Well-done||Dry, with a firm, tacky texture|
📋 Ingredients Notes
Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities.
Sous Vide Pork Tenderloin
- dried red chiles – 1 or more varieties – ancho, guajillo, negro, New Mexico, chipotle, pasilla, etc. On photo day, I used ancho, guajillo, and chipotle. I always have dried red chiles in my well-stocked pantry! For more on red chile varieties, see 11 Dried Mexican Chiles to Know and Love.
- shallot or red onion
- citrus juice and zest –
- cumin seeds – You can substitute ground cumin if you prefer.
- piloncillo sugar – Brown sugar is a good substitute.
- bacon – I use lean, uncured, thick-sliced bacon cut into lardons.
- shallot or red onion
- orange liqueur – I keep triple sec on hand for margaritas and for cooking. It’s less expensive than other orange liqueurs and perfectly fine for this dish.
1. Prepare the chiles – Toast the chiles in a cast iron (or similar) skillet until fragrant. Add to a bowl, and cover with boiling water. Soak 15-20 minutes until soft. Purée and press through a strainer/sieve.
2. Make the sous vide marinade – Combine the red chile purée, citrus juices and zest, garlic, toasted cumin seeds, and piloncillo or brown sugar in a prep bowl. Scoop into a sous vide or zip bag. Add the pork tenderloin pieces, and express the air from the bag. SEAL TIGHTLY. You don’t want water in the bag!
3. Sous vide the pork tenderloin – Add the prepared pork and marinade to water bath. Connect sous vide appliance to bluetooth app if using. Cook to desired temperature – 45 minutes to 4 hours.
4. Sear the pork – To a hot cast iron skillet, add the lardons (bacon pieces). Fry until crisp, then transfer to a plate with paper towels. If you have more than 1-2 tablespoons of bacon grease, remove some. Pat the pork tenderloin(s) dry, season with salt and pepper, then add to the hot pan. Sear on both sides. Set aside and tent with foil.
5. Make the pan sauce – Bring the skillet back to medium-high heat. Add the shallot or red onion. Sauté until it begins to soften, then add garlic and cumin. Stir until fragrant, and shallot or red onion is translucent. De-glaze with triple sec. Add chopped fresh herbs and bacon back to the pan. Keep warm while plating.
6. Serve – Slice the pork tenderloin into 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick slices. Spoon the bacon-shallot pan sauce over top, and garnish with additional fresh herbs and an orange slice.
Dry your pork tenderloin before searing! You will get a better result.
The red chile and citrus marinade is sufficient for 2 pork tenderloins, so I do 2. My husband reminded me tonight (January 7) that we have another pork tenderloin in the freezer. I’m so excited! I’ve got bacon, and will make a fresh pan sauce, and we’ll have another amazing main dish!
🍷 Pairing Suggestions
I’m working on a sweet potato mash, and it should be ready next week (see photo above). I should mention that this sous vide pork tenderloin pairs beautifully with my pear and arugula salad. Finish this gorgeous holiday menu with a Mexican bread pudding or tequila poached pears!
My “go to” wine with these bold flavors is a dry rosé. A brut champagne would work, and red wine lovers might like a pinot noir or sangiovese.
Mexican Sous Vide Pork Tenderloin
Click to rate!
- 4 ounces dried red chiles - stems and seeds removed
- 1 orange - zest and juice
- 1 lemon - zest and juice
- 1 lime - zest and juice
- 1 tablespoon grated piloncillo - or brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cumin seed - toasted
- 1 teaspoon garlic - minced
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 pork tenderloin - about 1 1/2 pounds
- 3 slices thick bacon - cut into lardons
- ⅓ cup shallot or red onion - chopped
- ½ cup orange liqueur - I use triple sec
- fresh herbs – oregano - cilantro, mint, parsley, etc. to garnish
- orange slices
- Toast the chiles in a cast iron (or similar) skillet until fragrant. Add to a bowl, and cover with boiling water. Soak 15-20 minutes until soft. Purée and press through a strainer/sieve.
- Combine the red chile purée, citrus juices and zest, garlic, toasted cumin seeds, and sugar in a prep bowl. Scoop in a sous vide or zip bag. Add the pork tenderloin, and express the air from the bag. Seal tightly. You don't want water in the bag!
- Add the prepared pork and marinade to water bath. Connect sous vide appliance to bluetooth app if using. Cook to desired temperature – 45 minutes to 4 hours.
- To a hot cast iron skillet, add the lardons (bacon pieces). Fry until crisp, then transfer to a plate with paper towels. If you have more than 1-2 tablespoons of bacon grease, remove some. Pat the pork tenderloin(s) dry, season with salt and pepper, then add to the hot pan. Sear on both sides. Set aside and tent with foil.
- Bring the skillet back to medium-high heat. Add the shallot or red onion. Sauté until it begins to soften, then add garlic and cumin. Stir until fragrant, and shallot or red onion is translucent. De-glaze with triple sec. Add chopped fresh herbs and bacon back to the pan. Keep warm while plating.
- Slice the pork tenderloin into ½ to ¾ inch thick slices. Spoon the bacon-shallot pan sauce over top, and garnish with additional fresh herbs and an orange slice.
NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.