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Pork Loin vs. Tenderloin

Fine Cooking Issue 51
Photos: Scott Phillips
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Pork loin and pork tenderloin are two similar sounding market terms that represent quite different cuts of meat.

The pork loin is a large cut that runs along either side of the backbone, beginning just below the shoulder and continuing down to the leg. The loin is then further broken down into the many different chops and roasts that you see at the market.When a recipe calls for a pork loin roast, it’s usually referring to a top loin roast, which many markets label as a center-cut roast. This type of roast is cut from the center of the loin where the meaty eye muscle is largest and most uniform in shape. It’s available both boneless (shown here) and bone-in. A boneless pork loin is about five inches across.

Pork loin.

The tenderloin is a much smaller cut of meat (usually about two-inches in diameter) from the loin. Prized for its tenderness—thus the name—and finely grained texture, the tenderloin is a single well-protected muscle that sits tucked underneath the backbone beginning just below the ribs and running down into the hip area. Chops and roasts that have a “T-bone” include both the tenderloin and loin eye muscles.

Pork tenderloin.

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