Two of the biggest gripes when it comes to preparing a turkey are that the meat is routinely overcooked and the bird is so darn big. Choosing to roast a couple of tenderloins instead of a whole turkey is an easy way to sidestep these cooking conundrums.
Two tenderloins weigh in at roughly a pound and a half, a far cry from your typical 20-pound Tom. Best of all? The tenderloin is as its name implies: tender, succulent, and, when served with a sweet and tangy maple mustard sauce, very tasty, too!
What Is Turkey Tenderloin?
The tenderloin is a thick strip of meat that’s cut from the turkey breast. It’s boneless, skinless white meat that is prized for being one of the most tender parts of the bird. The relatively small size of the tenderloin means it cooks in minutes rather than the hours that a whole turkey demands.
Where to Buy Turkey Tenderloins
The lead-up to Thanksgiving is the best time to get your hands on turkey tenderloin. Look to your local butcher or supermarket to see if they stock it. If not, they may be able to order it for you.
Alternatively, you can explore your online options, including Amazon, which I found to be the most reliable source for buying tenderloin outside the Thanksgiving season. If you’re fond of turkey tenderloin, consider getting more than you need and stashing extras in the freezer for next time.
How to Cook It Just Right
What’s tricky about cooking a turkey is that the breast cooks more quickly than the legs and thighs, so by the time the latter is done the breast is overcooked. The tenderloin, however, is far more uniform in shape and is entirely white meat. That makes it easier to avoid overcooking.
The key is keeping an eye on your oven and having an instant-read thermometer handy. When the temperature hits 160 degrees in the thickest part of the meat, it’s time to pull it out.
About the Maple Mustard Sauce
This turkey is plenty tasty with the spice rub alone, but it takes no more than a minute or two to turn the precious juices left behind in the skillet into a savory pan sauce. All you need is whole-grain mustard, the juice of an orange, and a bit of butter.
Stir that into the juices in the skillet while your tenderloins rest and you’ve got a sauce to spoon over the turkey slices at the table.
What to Serve with Turkey Tenderloin
For Thanksgiving and other holidays, traditional side dishes, from mashed potatoes to cranberry sauce, are ideal accompaniments.
If you’re making this recipe for a weeknight supper, serve with anything you’d serve alongside a roast chicken, such as a big salad, roast vegetables, or sautéed greens. Leftovers are also terrific sliced thin for sandwiches.
For When You Don’t Need a Whole Bird
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 turkey tenderloins (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons whole-grain Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons salted butter
1 large orange, halved
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Move a rack to the center of the oven and preheat. Choose a sturdy, oven-proof skillet that’s big enough to accommodate the turkey tenderloins with some room around them.
Make the spice rub and season the turkey:
In a small bowl, stir together the garlic powder, paprika, cumin, salt, pepper, and sugar until blended.
Lay the turkey tenderloins on a clean work surface and pat them dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle the spice rub on the exterior of the tenderloins until nicely coated.
Brown the turkey:
Heat the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat the pan. Once hot and shimmering, add the tenderloins in a single layer. Cook until nicely browned on both sides, about 3 minutes per side.
Finish cooking in the oven:
Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the turkey is cooked through, about 30 minutes.
The time will vary depending on the shape and size of the tenderloins. Use an instant-read thermometer to check for doneness. Remove the turkey from the oven when the thermometer registers 160°F in the center of the fattest section of each tenderloin, keeping in mind the temperature will continue to rise once it’s out of the oven (the USDA recommends an internal temperature of 165°F).
Make the mustard sauce:
As soon as the turkey is done, move it to a carving board to rest for 10 minutes. While the pan is still hot, add the mustard, butter, and juice from the orange. Stir to melt the butter and blend the ingredients with the pan drippings.
Slice and serve:
Cut the tenderloins into 1/2-inch thick slices. Arrange on a serving plate or platter. Transfer any juices that pooled on the carving board into the mustard sauce. Stir and pour into a small pitcher or bowl for serving alongside.
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|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 4 to 6|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 9g||11%|
|Saturated Fat 3g||17%|
|Total Carbohydrate 6g||2%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||4%|
|Total Sugars 3g|
|Vitamin C 18mg||91%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|