***Editor’s Intro ~ The Superbowl is right around the corner and that means parties. Lots and lots of parties. Some parties are better than others. If you’re party is the best because you have chips, dip, one of those six foot subs and chili made with your secret recipe I have a new flash. Nobody else thinks that you throw the best party. You want to make sure people are talking about your party more than the inevitable blow out in the game or the commercials, then start with this recipe. It’s relatively quick with no more than about 90 minutes on the grill. And by making sliders this recipe becomes finger food, perfect for a Superbowl party. I’ll pass it off to Dad for the step by step, picture by picture, foolproof instructions***
The inspiration for this grilling recipe came from Joe Thomann of Bad to the Bone BBQ during our annual Backyard BBQ Bash last fall. Several of our staff raved about the samples Joe passed out and suggested I pay a visit to his booth. Joe was eager to share his creation and gave a verbal description of the process that produced this tasty treat. Several weeks later I attempted to recreate Joe’s gem from memory on yet another grilling adventure where we shoot from the hip based on inspiration such as this. Here’s hoping I did justice to Joe’s fine effort.
Bacon Wrapped, Stuffed Pork Tenderloin Ingredients:
2 whole garlic ears (not cloves, the entire ears)
Drizzle of olive oil
2 pork tenderloins
8 oz. cream cheese (at room temperature)
1 bunch, fresh chives
8-12 slices bacon
Yield: 16-20 Sliders, depending on how thick you slice them
To begin, I will roast some garlic for the stuffing. Slice the stem top of the ears to expose the fragrant garlic cloves inside and drizzle with olive oil:
Place in a foil tent and roast for about an hour at 350:
While the garlic roasts, remove any excess fat from the tenderloins:
Don’t sweat the “silver skin” as it’s not tough like with a beef tenderloin. It will melt away during the cooking process.
That knife above is my 6 inch Kershaw Shun Utility Knife. We’re big fans of the Shun (pronounced shoon) knives. I went to William Sonoma and tried all the big knives, actually holding them and using them. All of them were razor sharp, but this was by far the most comfortable. If you don’t have a William Sonoma near by, you can also get them on Amazon. They aren’t cheap, but they last forever.
Butterfly the pork tenderloins being careful to not cut all the way through the meat:
Spread the tenderloins on a cutting board and cover with plastic wrap:
Pound the meat to ½ to ¾ inch thickness as shown:
The meat mallet I used for this can be seen here.
After an hour in the oven and the house smelling amazing, pull the garlic from the oven. Notice how golden brown it is?
Squeeze the roasted cloves onto the inside of the pork tenderloins, mash, and rub into the meat:
At this point the option is leave the cloves in or remove them after rubbing. I chose to leave them in:
Divide the cream cheese in half. This may look to be too much, but remember some will be lost in the cooking process:
Smear the cream cheese over each tenderloin.
The next step adds another layer of flavor as well as more color. Fresh chives are finely chopped with my favorite Shun chef’s knife:
That knife is the Kershaw Shun Ken Onion 8 inch chef knife. It is the best knife I’ve ever owned. It’s incredibly sharp and practically ergonomically perfect. It feels like an extension of my hand. If you would like one yourself, they aren’t cheap, but they are worth it. You can get one here
The chives are sprinkled evenly over both pork tenderloins and I’m ready to wrap with bacon:
***Editor’s Note ~ You could also mix the roasted garlic and fresh chives in with the cream cheese before spreading onto the pork tenderloins***
Now roll the pork tenderloins up:
One of the pork tenderloins bacon wrapped and secured with toothpicks. Then repeat with the second:
You could also use cooking twine here, and I would’ve but I was out. 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.
My latest BBQ pit is a Napoleon kettle charcoal grill:
This fantastic kettle grill features a hinged lid (hooray!) which means no looking for a place to set a hot grill on the ground or trying to find which side has the hook like with other kettle grills. The entire kettle rotates 360 degrees inside the stand. The stainless side table disappears beneath the main body reducing the footprint for storage. The cast iron grates flip up on 2 sides and have 3 different height settings. The ash catcher removes easily and the whole thing is on wheels. You can see this awesome kettle grill for yourself at Arnold Stove and Fireplace Center. Stop in and tell them Grillin’ Fools sent you.
The bacon wrapped, stuffed pork tenderloins will be smoked with apricot wood:
I set up the Napoleon kettle for indirect grilling with coals to the right and left of the bacon wrapped pork tenderloins in the center:
That’s one hot ash fire!
***Editor’s Note ~ Should you buy one of these, I would recommend not picking up the cast iron grill grate and flipping it over at chest height like dad did to clean the bottom. If you do, you just might lose one of the flaps on either side that flip up, again, like dad did. That sucker shattered into about 30 pieces. That’s why one side is always open on that bad boy. He’s working on getting a replacement***
The bacon wrapped pork tenderloins are on the Napoleon kettle grill, smoke wood added, lid dropped, and vents adjusted. These should be smoked for about an hour to hour and a half, depending on the heat of your grill, or as Joe said, “When the bacon’s done it’s done.”
Here’s a peek after 30 minutes of grilling on the Napoleon. Bacon is browning nicely and the stuffed cream cheese is oozing forth:
The bacon wrapped pork tenderloins have smoked for one hour and 15 minutes and are done, despite one looking lighter than the other. The lighting was not great after the sun went down:
I used Joe’s bacon method but suggest using a probe thermometer to make sure they come to the right temperature of around 140-145 degrees for a nice medium, although you don’t have to cook pork to medium or higher anymore as explained here.
The bacon wrapped, stuffed pork tenderloins are removed from the Napoleon and brought inside to rest before slicing and as you can see the bacon for both is nicely browned:
Resting allows for the juices, in an excited state from the heat of being smoked, to calm down and redistribute throughout the meat. Resting is very, very important.
Joe served his tenderloin slices naked, as appetizers. I chose to create sliders. I picked up sweet Hawaiian rolls at the local market and they await preparation by my Shun bread knife, it slices everything else too!
Here it is! It’s ready for everyone to dig into a combination of flavors and textures: sweet bread, crispy bacon, smoked pork, and creamy herbed stuffing, all creating a delicious treat that has become a family favorite. Here are a couple pics from each end of the long plate, one of the tenderloins is sliced, the other is staying warm until the first one is eaten:
Joe, I hope I came close to what you served that day and thanks for the inspiration. By the way, Joe Thomann throws their own BBQ competition in May. You can get the details here.
If you have any questions or comments about this grilling feat, feel free to leave them below or shoot me an email.
- 2 whole garlic ears (not cloves, the entire ears)
- Drizzle of olive oil
- 2 pork tenderloins
- 8 oz. cream cheese (at room temperature)
- 1 bunch, fresh chives, finely chopped
- 8-12 slices bacon
- Slider buns
- Slice the top off of each ear of garlic
- Drizzle with olive oil
- Place in foil tent and bake at 350 for 1 hour
- Whole garlic is roasting, remove excess fat from pork tenderloins (don't worry about the silver skin)
- Butterfly the tenderloins by cutting lengthwise down the middle being careful not to cut all the way through
- Cover with plastic wrap and pound with mallet till ½ to ¾ inch thick
- When garlic is done, squeeze the roasted cloves out onto the tenderloins and spread into the meat
- Divide cream cheese in half and spread over the tenderloins
- Spread chives over the cream cheese
- Roll the tenderloins up and wrap with bacon, securing the bacon in place with toothpicks
- Smoke the tenderloins indirect at 250-275 for 75-90 minutes until the bacon is done and the pork has reached at least a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees
- Remove from heat and let rest for 10 minutes
- Slice and place on the buns to serve