If you are unfamiliar with cuts of pork, it can be easy to confuse pork loin with pork tenderloin just because of their names. However, these are two very different cuts and each has its own benefits and drawbacks. Let’s review the similarities and difference in our BBQ Showdown: pork loin vs pork tenderloin.
How do pork loin and pork tenderloin differ?
Both pork loin and pork tenderloin come from the same general part of the pig. While they are both relatively lean cuts, tenderloin is typically the leaner of the two. Pork loin usually has a fat cap that you can trim off to reduce the fat content, or leave on to keep it moist and to enhance flavor. Some pork loin will have marbling like beef. The fat will help to keep it tender since less fat usually equals tougher texture when it comes to pork loins.
The tenderloin is one of the leanest parts of the pig and also one of the most tender. It is also much smaller than the pork loin, which can weigh up to 20 pounds and be as long as 30 inches. Tenderloins typically weigh only about 1 pound and are only about 1 foot long. Chops and roasts with a T-bone typically include a part of the tenderloin and a part of the loin.
Where on the pig does each cut originate?
The loin primal cut of a pig is the section that runs from the shoulder all the way to the hind legs on either side of the backbone. It is widely considered to hold much of the most tender meat on a pig. Keep in mind that pigs are bred for the length of their loins, which can have as many as 17 ribs. This part of the pig is the source of many of the chops and roasts that you see in grocery store meat sections. Cuts that come from it include boneless chops and country-style ribs.
The tenderloin comes from the area at the rear of the loin, closer to the hind legs. It is hidden under the backbone and starts below the ribs running down to the hip. It consists of muscle that does not do much work, which is the reason for its fine-grained texture.
Is one easier to grill than the other?
Because pork loin can be tough, you will need to slow smoke it over several hours if you are cooking a roast. Cooking it slowly at a relatively low temperature will cause the muscle fibers to break down making the meat more tender. This method can be easier grilling a tenderloin given the fact that calls for relatively little attention once you close the lid of your grill.
Tenderloin is best when cooked with high heat to keep it from drying out. You should grill it whole and it should spend no longer than 15 minutes on the grill. Note that the tenderloin will continue to cook even while resting. Tenderloin requires a lot more attention, but cooks in much less time than a pork loin roast.
You can also cut a pork loin into chops, which shortens the cooking time considerably. Cook pork loin chops over high heat, just like the tenderloin.
Which cut is the most expensive?
Tenderloin is typically the more expensive of the two cuts. According to the USDA national retail prices, the cost of tenderloin presently averages out at about a third more than pork loin.
When is one better than another?
Pork loin roast is the better option if you are willing to spend a few hours cooking and are cooking for a larger number of people. The lower cost and the size make it a better option for gatherings. Tenderloin is better if you and are cooking for just 2-3 people and want to get done in less time.