This is my favorite pork tenderloin recipe ever. Served with ricotta mashed potatoes, spinach, and caramelized shallots, it’s a meal that looks stunning and tastes delicious.
I developed this recipe over six years ago, and it received rave reviews from a bunch of people who made it when I first released it. Somehow, the original post never made it over to my new website, but I still had the recipe tucked away. This meal has been on and off my mind over the past several years, so I decided to revisit it tonight to reintroduce this.
I love pork tenderloin. It’s easy to make, super cheap, and pretty lean. When cooked properly, it can be nice and juicy, and so flavorful.
This pork tenderloin recipe has a few components that make it an extra-special dinner:
- Pancetta and caramelized shallots: The dish starts with crisping up pancetta and caramelizing shallots. This crispy, salty, sweet garnish rounds out the dish perfectly.
- Ricotta mashed potatoes: The potatoes are made with ricotta, Parmesan cheese, butter, white pepper, black pepper, garlic powder, and a little potato cooking water. They’re rich without being overly decadent or heavy and pair perfectly with a lean tenderloin.
- The tenderloin: The star of the show! The tenderloin is pan-fried first in the leftover pancetta fat and then roasted.
- Spinach with pan sauce: After the pork finishes roasting, you make a simple pan sauce with the leftover fond n the pot. Make the sauce with just butter, garlic, chicken broth, spinach, and lemon juice.
How to serve this pork tenderloin recipe:
Once you’ve cooked all the components above, you’ll plate it up. I love serving this meal on a big platter. I smooth the mashed potatoes across the platter and pile the spinach on top. Then, I slice the tenderloin and arrange it on top. From there, I simply garnish with caramelized shallots, crispy pancetta, and fresh minced parsley. I like to spoon any extra pan sauce on top of the tenderloin right before serving.
My Favorite Pork Tenderloin Recipe
- Wide pot or skillet
- Large pot
- Potato masher
- 1¾ pounds Yukon gold or russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
- 2 tablespoons fresh chives or 1 tablespoon dry chives
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon white pepper
- 4 tablespoons butter, divided
- Splash of heavy cream or whole milk, if needed
- 2 ounces diced pancetta
- 1 medium shallot, peeled and sliced into rounds
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 pound pork tenderloin
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- ¾ cup chicken broth
- 8 ounces baby spinach
- ½ lemon, juiced (about 1½ tablespoons juice)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Crushed red pepper to taste
- Minced parsley, optional, for garnish
Boil the potatoes:
- Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Add a liberal pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and cook for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are fork-tender. Scoop out ½ cup of the cooking water and set it aside. Drain the potatoes.
- Combine the ricotta, Parmesan cheese, chives, garlic powder, white pepper, and 2 tablespoons butter in a large bowl. Add ¼ cup of the potato cooking water and whisk until combined. The butter does not need to be completely melted.
- Add the cooked potatoes and use a masher to mash until mostly smooth. Taste and add salt and pepper. Add more of the potato cooking water or a splash of heavy cream as needed and continue mashing until the potatoes reach your desired consistency. Cover the bowl with foil and keep the potatoes warm.
Cook the pancetta:
- Preheat oven to 400ºF.
- Add the pancetta to a large, cold oven-proof wide pot and turn the heat to medium-high. Cook for 6–8 minutes, stirring frequently, until the pancetta is very crispy. Remove the pancetta from the pot using a slotted spoon, leaving the fat in the pan.
Caramelize the shallots:
- In the same pot over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Once hot and shimmering, add the shallots, reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes until the shallots begin to brown. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of sugar on top and continue cooking over low to medium-low heat (adjust the heat periodically as they cook) for 10 minutes more until evenly browned. Shallots burn very easily, so keep an eye on them!
- Remove the shallots from the pot and transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate. Season to taste with a sprinkle of salt. Carefully wipe out the skillet.
Cook the pork tenderloin:
- Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the pot over medium-high. Once hot, add the pork tenderloin and cook for 3–4 minutes per side until the entire tenderloin is well seared.
- Transfer the pot to the oven and cook for an additional 15–18 minutes or until the pork reaches 135ºF at the thickest part. Remove the pot from the oven, transfer the tenderloin to a cutting board, and rest for 10 minutes. After the pork has rested, thinly slice and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.
Make the spinach:
- Return the pot used for the pork tenderloin to the stove over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Once melted and bubbly, add the minced garlic and a pinch of crushed red pepper. Cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
- Pour in the chicken broth and scrape up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add the spinach and cook for 2–4 minutes, stirring regularly, until the spinach wilts. Add the lemon juice, a pinch of salt, and black pepper. Turn off the heat.
- Transfer the mashed potatoes to a serving platter and top with the spinach and a few spoonfuls of the pan sauce. Arrange the sliced pork tenderloin on top. Garnish with the crispy pancetta, browned shallots, and minced parsley. Spoon the remaining pan sauce on top of the pork. Enjoy!