These bacon and pork tenderloin pinwheels are a great appetizer or entrée and have been permanently added to my list of favorites. Thanks to Chris Lilly and Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q for the inspiration of this classic southern recipe with a slight Grillin Fools twist. I highly recommend you picking up his grill book. Prep is simple, as you will see, and not very time consuming.
Pork Pinwheel Ingredients:
1 pork tenderloin
5-6 bacon strips (depending on how thick the tenderloin is)
Carolina mustard sauce (recipe to follow)
1 cup pecans, finely chopped
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
Makes 10-12 appetizers.
Here I’m trimming some fat and silver skin off the pork tenderloin:
***Editor’s Note ~ This step isn’t really necessary. The silver skin on a pork tenderloin is not tough like beef And as lean as the tenderloin is, some would argue to leave the fat on to add flavor. But we’ll be adding bacon so we’ll have all the fat and flavor we need. But dad is a stickler for it looking trim and neat and thus he cleaned the cut up before we sliced it. It does actually make it healther though***
The Original Grillin Fool, Scott, was recruited to assist with the prep and he’s slicing the tenderloin into ¼ inch strips. Do not attempt this with a dull knife or anything below razor sharp. The goal is to have the tenderloin strips to be about as thick and wide as a piece of thick slab bacon:
It was a bit of a challenge since the tenderloin is boneless and not firm. When I repeat this recipe I’ll place the tenderloin into the freezer long enough to stiffen, but not to be frozen through to make it easier.
The slab bacon was approximately the same length as the tenderloin. This was a small tenderloin and some of the strips weren’t quite as wide as the width of the bacon so I attempted to spread them out a bit to fit with a meat mallet. This is optional:
Next, bacon is placed over the tenderloin strips:
Thinner bacon could’ve been used but I had the thick variety on hand.
There was one extra piece of tenderloin not large enough to roll by itself so we added to another to double up the tenderloin:
They are ready to roll:
Scott rolling the bacon and tenderloin:
Ok, how does the bacon and pork tenderloin pinwheel look?
Pork pinwheel rolled tightly and secured with toothpicks:
Notice the placement of the toothpicks in the bacon and pork tenderloin pinwheels? It’s important to place them in this manner. We’ll explain later:
Now we’re going to try a few twists to the basic recipe. This photo shows spinach leaves being added to a pork pinwheel:
Now all are rolled together tightly into pork pinwheels and toothpicks inserted:
Here’s another pork pinwheels with basil leaves replacing spinach. Maybe, with the spinach and basil added, this could be classified as healthy grilling?
Now on to the Carolina Mustard Sauce.
1 1/4 cup honey mustard
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp ketchup (not shown)
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp hot sauce
Makes 1 3/4 cups.
In a small bowl combine all ingredients well. For best flavor make 24 hours ahead to allow the flavors to develop. It will keep in the fridge up to 2 weeks. Set aside about half of the sauce for drizzling and dipping later.
Finely chopped pecans with the salt and pepper added:
Grandson Brennan wants to try the salted and peppered pecans. As a future Grillin Fool he must learn to exercise patience:
Now I’m coating the bacon and pork tenderloin pinwheels with the mustard sauce. You may want to brush it on and that’s just fine. We found this to be messier than using a brush, but it went on the pork pinwheels thicker and more evenly this way:
Once coated with the mustard sauce simply roll the pork pinwheels through the pecans to coat:
Coated and looking good:
Remember the toothpick placement earlier? This is why—the bacon and pork tenderloin pinwheels are sliced down the middle once rolled in the pecans to achieve appropriate serving size and portions. Slice between the toothpicks and you have two pork pinwheels, each with its own toothpick:
Sliced through to make two awesome looking pork pinwheels:
Here’s the plateful of all three varieties ready for the grill, obviously we did more than one tenderloin:
Make sure to clean the grill grates or the pork tenderloin will stick to them. I’m cleaning the grill grates with a paper towel drenched in vegetable oil:
You don’t want this stuff sticking to your food:
We’re grilling direct over medium-high heat:
Check for the bacon browning and a little char before flipping.
The bacon and pork tenderloin pinwheels are flipped and look tasty:
I removed them from the direct heat to finish baking a bit on the indirect side of the grill once the bacon was browned and meat charred a little:
Average cooking time will be around 8 minutes per side, plus a few minutes baking, so about 20 minutes total. This could vary greatly depending on your grill and fire. When the bacon edges begin to crisp you’ll be very close to ready. Take a look at a couple pork pinwheels plated:
They tasted great!
My grandsons are sampling. Think the mustard sauce has Brennan puckered up!
That pucker didn’t last long. Brennan wants another:
What a great afternoon—having Scott and the boys over, NFL on the bigscreen, and grilling out back. It doesn’t get much better for this old griller.
To recap this effort the bacon/tenderloin combination was very good. The spinach variety added color but no real flavor enhancement. The basil version rocked our world with not only added color for the presentation but super flavor. If you love basil, this is the way to go.
Going forward I would grill this again but will also experiment with other herbs as well as pistachios, cashews, or almonds perhaps. More possibilities come to mind—utilizing chicken with crushed cashews and an orange sauce. I could go on, but try the original and let us know your results. This could be a great Super Bowl party appetizer!
If you have any questions or comments about the bacon and pork tenderloin pinwheels, feel free to leave them below or shoot me an email.
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- 5-6 bacon strips (depending on how thick the tenderloin is)
- Carolina mustard sauce (recipe to follow)
- 1¼ cup honey mustard
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp ketchup (not shown)
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp hot sauce
- 1 cup pecans, finely chopped
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- Slice the tenderloin lengthwise into ¼ inch strips
- Flatten the tenderloin a little more so it is the same width as the bacon
- Bacon is placed over the tenderloin strips
- Roll the meat up into pinwheels and stab with two toothpicks, one on top of the other on the same side (will make slicing easier later)
- In a small bowl combine all ingredients well
- For best flavor make 24 hours ahead to allow the flavors to develop
- Set aside about half of the sauce for drizzling and dipping later
- Combine the ingredients in a bowl
- Roll the pinwheels in the mustard sauce
- Roll the coated pinwheels in the pecans
- Slice in half between the toothpicks
- Prepare the grill for medium high heat
- Place the pinwheels over coals and grill on both sides until the bacon edges begin to crisp and pork tenderloin is cooked through (about 20 minutes)
- Remove from the heat and plate, coating with the mustard sauce or use it as a dipping sauce