I had my dad and my Father in Law over for a guy night recently and I made four pork tenderloins. I realize that sounds like a lot for three people, but I wanted plenty for leftovers because tenderloin makes a fantastic sammich that I will document as well. This is a monster post, with more than 30 pictures, but I wanted to make sure I documented the process really well…
First thing I did was create a brine. I took two cups of apple cider, mixed in a quarter cup of salt, quarter cup of garlic and ten turns of black pepper in a pot on the stove. A little heat helps the salt dissolve quickly:
Once the salt is dissolved throw in a few ice cubes to cool it off so it can go into the plastic bag with the meat:
Then pour the brine into the bag with the four pork tenderloins:
I topped it off with some more cider to make sure it covered the meat, mixed it around in the bag and put it into the fridge overnight.
Brining does a number of wonderful things. First, the salt breaks down connective tissue so it tenderizes. Second, the solution forces moisture away from the salt and into the meat so it makes the meat juicier. And third, that moisture that’s going into the meat is full of flavor from the cider, garlic and black pepper, so the meat will be tastier.
You can use apple juice, cranberry, grape, whatever. I would avoid orange juice as it is too acidic and will start cooking the meat. I know a guy that uses Mountain Dew to brine. You’re looking for something sugary and then add the salt.
I brined it overnight, but you can get the benefits of the brine in a couple of hours if that’s all you have. I highly recommend it with all pork and poultry. Particularly with the tenderloin as it has very little fat content and can dry out very quickly. The extra juice will give you a much larger margin of error.
The next day I rinsed the meat off under cold water to get rid of all the salt. Then I placed them on paper towels and patted them off with more paper towels to make sure I got all the salt off:
Position the loins so the fat end of one tenderloin is next to the skinny end of the other loin:
I’ll explain why you want them positioned like this in just a second.
After they were dried off and laid out I slathered two of the loins with Spice Islands Brazilian Beef Rub.
The other two I drizzled with Tobago Keys Burgundy Wine Marinade and Grilling Sauce:
I love Tobago Keys products. I’ve used the their Steakman Marinade on the site before. You can see that recipe here.
I’m such a big fan their stuff that I own four of their products:
Here are the other two that I will try soon:
Here are two of the loins slathered in the Burgundy Wine Sauce:
Another way to keep the tenderloins from drying out is to tie them together with cooking or baking twine with the fat end of one end to the skinny end of the other to ensure that it cooks evenly. Stack the two on top of each other and have a length of cooking/baking twine ready to tie them together:
Now tie them together at one end:
You can use four or five short lengths of twine or you can do it with one length by looping it over the meat multiple times:
Then I tied the other end of the loins:
I rolled the meat through the excess grilling sauce on the cutting board to get it good and coated.
I stopped buying my cooking twine locally because it is so expensive for the most pitiful little rolls. I got mine on Amazon with a stainless holder that I can refill again and again for the cheap. If you just want the ball of cooking twine, they have that too.
I prepared a quarter of a chimney of coals and put them on the right side of the Chargriller since the chimney is on the left so the smoke will travel over the meat on its way out of the grill. I put a few fresh coals on the pile to act as insulation between the raging hot coals and the chunk of apricot wood:
If you don’t have apricot, then you can check this link for more than 50 different smoke woods and what they pair well with.
I went with a small fire because I want to keep the temps low in order to impart some smoke flavor to the meat without drying it out. Pork tenderloin can dry out very quickly so I kept the temperature at just under 200.
I put the two trussed loins away from the fire underneath the chimney so the smoke will travel over it. I put the thickest of the four loins closest to the heat. I slathered some more Burgundy Wine Sauce on two of them and then placed slices of Genova salami and coppa on top of the meat:
The slices of salame and coppa will baste the meat as it cooks and provide a great snack (or as we like to call it – Chef’s Prerogative) later on:
At 30 minutes the salami and coppa are starting to curl around the edges as they fat renders out of the slices:
I rotated the meat so it will cook evenly and flipped over the chunk of apricot so it would keep smoking. I always try to do as much as possible each time I open the lid so I don’t have to keep opening it and losing heat thus extending grilling times. Try to mop, rub, sauce, add fuel or smoke wood, etc. all at once so you don’t have to repeatedly open the grill to perform these tasks.
Here we are at 50 minutes and browning nicely:
At this point I started another chimney of charcoal to get ready to sear sear the meat:
If you don’t have a charcoal chimney, you need to get one. You can find a wide variety of them here.
At 70 minutes it’s time to sear the meat:
But not before Dad and I sample that salami and coppa. My Father in Law was running late so we got all of it, and I must say, he really missed out. Dad got the first slice:
If you want to look as snazzy as my dad with that bluetooth ear piece, let me help!
The salami was excellent but the coppa was even better. Some are going to ask why I didn’t use bacon here. We use bacon for everything now, right? Bacon vodka, bacon salt and even bacon water. If you just want to baste the meat, bacon is great for that. Probably better than the salami or coppa. But if you also want a snack, then the bacon won’t do because it won’t fully cook before the tenderloin will be dried out. Trust me on this, I have learned this lesson the hard way. The coppa and salami are the best of both worlds.
I spread the coals from the chimney to have more hot surface area to cook. That small fire I started at the beginning wasn’t big enough to sear the loins. If this all sounds familiar, it is indeed the reverse sear process I do with my pork steaks applied to pork steaks. And while the reverse sear process makes a great smoke ring for pork steaks, you can’t do that with tenderloin. If you have a smoke ring on the tenderloin you probably have dry tenderloin.
Here’s the meat over the high heat searing:
Now don’t walk away from the grill now. You need to stand right on top of it and keep rotating the meat to keep it from burning. A little blackening is fine, but you don’t want to come this far and then burn the meat:
Don’t forget the sides:
Now off the heat while dad gets the platter to let the meat rest. Total searing time was less than 15 minutes. The internal temperature of the thickest part of the meat is 140 degrees which will leave it a little pink but that’s perfect for pork tenderloin:
Resting is a vital step for cooking. When the meat comes off the grill the juices are in an excited state because of the heat. Slice into it right away and the juices will run all over the cutting board. If you let the meat rest, the juices will calm down and remain in the meat. A steak may only need a couple minutes to rest, a brisket needs an hour, but these I let rest for 15 minutes on the platter under some foil.
Here are they ready for slicing:
Dad poured up his contribution to the evening and what a fine contribution it was – Noble Estate Pinot Noir 2008 from the Willamette Valley:
This pinot was fantastic young and runs only $17 locally in St. Louis. Can’t wait to taste this after a few years in the bottle.
Here is the meat plated with some grilled corn and shrimp:
I realize that the pork looks really pink there. I took the final pictures with two different settings. This one washed the pink out more than the actual color of the meat:
You can see how juicy it is in this picture but the color isn’t representative of the actual color of the meat. Here’s a closeup with the other setting in which it’s too pink than the actual color:
Try to imagine it somewhere in between.
All in all the pork loins were outstanding. The Burgundy Wine Glaze added a wonderful sweetness to the meat, particularly where it caramelized on the meat over the high heat as it seared. It contrasted well with the Brazilian rubbed tenderloin which was pretty spicy.
I’ve never had such a tender and juicy tenderloin as this one. I implore you to try brining one time. You will be a believer after one try.
If you’re wondering about the corn, well, that’s corn that, for the first time, I grilled naked. The corn was naked, not me. You can find the write up on the corn here. Did I mention that it was bathed in a tarragon/oregano/garlic butter?
Now to the reason why I made so much extra. I love making tenderloin sammiches. First I take a foot long sub bun, or mini baguette. My local grocer calls them sweet mini loafs. I spread a compound butter on each piece of bread:
Then slice the tenderloin and place it on one side of the bun. You won;t cook it yet. Just slice it until you know you have enough for the length of bread:
Now, take the meat off and put the bread onto a baking sheet and put it under the broiler until browned. Then put the meat on one side (removing the other side and setting aside) and put under the broiler for a few minutes to warm the meat and then put some slices of cheese on top. In this case provelone. Put back in the oven to melt the cheese:
Slap those to together and I’m in sammich heaven!!!
If you have any questions, feel free to leave it below or shoot me an email.
If you are interested in other grilled pork recipes, click here.