Pork Tenderloin Sliders – Perfect for Tailgating
Editor’s Note ~ In this post, I’m going to take the Jerk Pork Tenderloin post I did this summer and adapt it to a tailgating recipe by showing how to take an amazing smoked pork tenderloin and turn it into finger food for your next tailgating adventure before you go show the world how much you love your favorite team.
With this BBQ recipe, I combine two of my favorite things, jerk seasoning and pork tenderloin.
Editor’s Note ~ Three things, now with the addition of tailgating!
Here’s why I added the tailgating aspect to this. I did these for the Tailgating show on KSDK Channel 5 with Heidi Glaus:
The reason I like jerk so much is that while it can be fiery hot, it still has a ton of flavor. It’s not mind numbingly scorching to the tongue. It’s not hot just to be hot. And the reason I love pork tenderloin so much is that as a husband, father of two toddlers, owner of this website as well as working 40 hours a week with my regular job, I don’t often get a chance to do all day cookouts, or even half days. The pork tenderloin allows me get my grilling fix in under two hours. And jerk pork tenderloin may be one of my favorites.
This is an extremely simple BBQ recipe. There are two ingredients if you can find a pre-made jerk marinade or jerk seasoning. Luckily, there are a couple places here in St. Louis that carry this:
Walkerswood is an amazing product. But be careful. If you’ve never had it before, and even if you love hot stuff, go easy. The pain will not be just when you eat it, but it will bleed over into the next day. Trust me. Go light, cut with some oil, whatever. One note. When you first open this jar, it is not as hot as it will become after some air gets in the jar and you leave it in the fridge for a few weeks where it will somehow gain in heat and flavor intensity. I have no idea how this works. All I know is the first time I had it, the spiciness was perfect, then I had it about a month later and it was a lot hotter. I have repeated this phenomena over and over. The only difference now is that I actually like jerk after it gets even hotter, but then I’m nuts with this kind of stuff.
Now, if you can’t find Walkerswood, we have a recipe for a jerk marinade you can make from raw ingredients. Considering my lack of free time, the pre-made stuff is the way to go for me, but when I was single, I was all about making everything from scratch. If that’s you, here’s our jerk recipe from the third Grillin’ Fool, Tom and his wife Tracy.
Jerk Marinade Ingredients:
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
2 scotch bonnet peppers (if you can’t find this at your grocery use a fresh jalapeño)**
1 tbsp allspice
1 1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup dark rum
juice from one fresh lime
juice from one fresh orange
Combine all the ingredients for the jerk marinade in a food processor or blender and pulse until it runs smooth.
Coat the pork tenderloin with the jerk, and put in the refrigerator over the night:
The following day, prep the jerk pork tenderloin for the grill. Or in this case, two tenderloins. Most of the time a package of pork tenderloin has two inside. With as little fat as there is in pork tenderloin, a single pork tenderloin will cook extremely quickly and thus there is a very short window between done perfectly to dried out. To compensate for that, tie two of them together so they insulate each other and thus increase cooking time and allow more of that sweet wood smoke to penetrate without drying the meat out.
Here’s how to tie them together:
Remove the pork tenderloins from the jerk marinade and place them on a cutting board or platter with the fat end of one tenderloin paired with the skinny end of the other and vice versa:
Then stack them on each other:
Now get a 3 to 4 foot length of bakers twine and tie one end together:
Then run the twine under the meat:
Then run the twine beck through itself to create a loop:
Then pull the loop tight:
Rinse and repeat:
Then do a final loop around the end:
Tie off the last loop and cut off the excess twine:
And here we have one section of twine that trusses the entire length of meat together:
That’s how to tie pork tenderloins together.
I know some are thinking, “Why not just cut five lengths of about nine inches and make five knots?” Sure, that can be done, but once I did this method a few times, I was able to do this in less than ten seconds. And I can make two cuts and all the string can be pulled off as one length when the pork tenderloins are cooked. After the pork tenderloin cooks, the strings sort of disappear and it’s hard to find all of them.
BTW, doing this and getting pics by myself was not easy and I got all kinds of jerk marinade on my camera!
Some are wondering about the silver skin and fat on the pork tenderloin. Don’t. Any on the outside will melt away and baste the meat. And the silver skin isn’t chewy like it is with beef.
Now it’s time to get the grill ready to finish this BBQ recipe.
The grill is prepared for two zone grilling with coals (and smoke wood) on one side and the meat on the other:
That’s a chunk of peach wood.
Close the lid on the jerk pork tenderloin and leave the grill alone until the temperature drops or you see no more smoke. The target temperature is 300:
I had the tenderloins pretty close to the coals and thus they browned more than I had planned. So instead of smoking for 60 minutes and then searing, I smoked for 90 minutes and skipped the sear. But doesn’t the sear get that wonderful flavor from the browning? It does, but I got that already with how close the meat was to the coals. The browning is what is important, not how we get it:
And here we have jerk pork tenderloin on the cutting board resting:
The reason to let it rest is when the meat comes off the heat, the juices are in an excited state and moving a million miles an hour. Slice right away and the juices will spill out all over the cutting board and while the first couple of bites will be fine, but by the time you get to the end, you’ll need some sort of sauce to choke it down.
After about ten minutes, clip the twine and separate the jerk tenderloins:
If you weren’t someone who believed in resting before, I hope the the above picture changes your mind. If it doesn’t, nothing will. Pork tenderloin is extremely lean, yet that meat is glistening with juicy fat.
Here’s another picture with a different camera setting to show the nice smoke ring:
Now that we have our succulent pork tenderloin, let’s make some sliders for tailgating. First, get one of these or any oven safe pan:
If you don’t have a cast iron pan, your collection of cookware is incomplete. You have to have cast iron. It truly makes a difference in the flavor. I’m a believer. You can buy one here if you don’t have one for less than $20.
Here we have a couple jerk pork tenderloins that I made a few months after the ones above to show this part of the process:
This one I smoked for 60 minutes and then seared and left a little pink intentionally. First, pork doesn’t have to be cooked to well done anymore. And second, the pork medallions will be going back on the grill:
Now get yourself some slider buns or in this case those sweet Hawaiian roles which counter the heat of the jerk wonderfully and just add an extra layer of flavor to the pork tenderloins sliders. Hit them with mayonnaise or any other bread spread you like:
Then place a medallion on each bottom bun and place the top buns in the pan with them and put them on the grill, in this case a Char-Broil 500X which is the best travel charcoal grill on the market and perfect for tailgating. Click here to see where you can get one:
Then add some cheese. We’ve found that havarti melts the best for pork tenderloin sliders, followed by provel. In this case we used some pepper havarti:
Now, keep an eye on the buns as they will toast pretty quickly. If the fire is too hot, place the pan over the side with no heat and close the lid or pull the buns as they toast:
You could also brush on some butter or olive oil to keep the buns from toasting so fast.
All you’re waiting on at this point is the cheese to melt:
Now assemble your pork tenderloin sliders and enjoy:
We have the flavor and spice from the jerk, the meatiness and juice from the pork, the heat and gooeyness from the pepper cheese, as well as the sweet and crunch from the toasted buns all wrapped up in under 90 minutes which is plenty of time to get set up on the parking lot, set up, grill, chow, imbibe and get to the game. While the guys on either side of you grill burgers and brats, count how many people amble over and ask what they’re cooking compared to how many people ask you. Everyone has done burgers and brats while tailgating. Take your next tailgate to another level with these pork tenderloin sliders.
If you have any questions about the above dish please feel free to comment below or shoot me an email.
If you liked the pork tenderloin sliders BBQ recipe and are interest in another BBQ recipe with pork, click here for many more.
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- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 scotch bonnet peppers (if you can’t find this at your grocery use a fresh jalapeño)**
- 1 tbsp allspice
- 1½ tsp ginger
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- ½ cup white wine vinegar
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup dark rum
- juice from one fresh lime
- juice from one fresh orange
- 2 pork tenderloins lashed together with bakers twine
- Sweet Hawaiian buns
- Slices of cheese
- Combine all the ingredients except the pork tenderloins in a blender or food processor and blend till smooth
- Place the tenderloins in a resealable plastic bag and pour in the marinade
- Refrigerate 2-12 hours
- Remove the meat from the bag and let come to room temperature on the counter
- Prepare the grill for two zone/indirect grilling with coals and smoke wood on one side and nothing on the other
- Target internal temperature of the grill is 300
- Place the tenderloins on the side of the grill with no heat and close the lid
- Smoke until the tenderloins reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees and then take off the grill and let rest
- Slice the jerked tenderloins into sandwich size hunks
- Place a cast iron pan on the grill and assemble the sandwiches
- Place the bottom buns on the frying pan along with a chunk of the pork tenderloin
- Cover the tenderloins with a slice of cheese and place the tops of the buns on the cast iron pan as well to toast the bottoms
- When the cheese is melted and the buns are toasted. Note that the buns may toast faster than the cheese. You may want to butter the buns to add some insulation