It’s amazing what a few days of sun can do; my tomato plants and nasturtiums have burst into bloom, wild black raspberries are ripening in the backyard, and I am feeling motivated and productive. Could it be that summer is here at last?
In celebration of summer-like temperatures and the complete lack of any sort of precipitation, Tai fired up the grill last night and we cooked some tiny little pork tenderloins from New England Farms. Although I often put tenderloin into the category of “roast,” the truth is that they are usually smaller cuts of meat than your typical roast and they can easily work on the grill given a little heat management. And who wants to fire up the oven when it is a delightful 75 degrees outside and the daylight lingers until nearly 9 pm? Not I.
I whipped up a quick marinade for the tenderloins, just to keep the meat as moist as possible while on the grill. You could easily go without any marinade, with a dry rub, or a simple salt & pepper coating; just watch the meat carefully during the charring phase and move to a cooler part of the grill if the outside seems to be drying out. Then sit back, relax, and marvel at the wonder of sum-sum-summertime.
Grilled Pork Tenderloin
- 2 small pork tenderloin cuts, about 8 oz (or less) each
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- marinade (optional): 1/2 cup Cranberry Chutney, 3 tbsp white balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup honey
- Remove tenderloins from refrigerator. Rinse, pat dry and coat liberally with salt and pepper. Prepare marinade, if using, and marinate tenderloins for 15 minutes up to 1 hour at room temperature (for a longer marinating time, keep refrigerated). Allow tenderloins to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes prior to cooking.
- Light the grill. If using charcoal (like us) pile more coals onto one side of the grill to create a hot side and a cooler side. If using a gas grill, pre-heat on high for at least 20 minutes.
- Clean the grill grate and lightly spray with olive or canola oil spray. Place tenderloins over the hottest part of the grill, crosswise to the grill grates so as to create a lovely charred pattern. Sear meat on all sides, not turning too frequently or you will not get a nice char on the outside. Spoon some marinade on top of the loins occasionally. Searing could take only a couple of minutes if your grill is really hot, and the tenderloins are in active flame, or it could take up to 10 minutes if the coals are quite hot but there is little to no flame. There is little danger of overcooking the center of the tenderloin at this point, so just continue to sear until it looks good to you.
- Once the tenderloins are nicely charred, move to the cooler side of the grill (or turn the heat down on your gas grill). Check the internal temperature of the tenderloins (a very small cut may be fully cooked by now): you’re looking for a temperature somewhere between 145 degrees F (rare) and 170 degrees F (well done). I usually like mine at about 150-155 degrees F. Thoroughly coat tenderloins with marinade (if using), cover the grill and then check the internal temperature every 5 minutes until the tenderloins are done; they cook very quickly, so check early and often. Ours actually got a little overdone, for our taste, (internal temp of 170 degrees F) in less than 10 minutes on a covered grill.
- Allow to sit for at least 5 minutes, off the grill, before slicing. Serve with a simple green salad; if you like you can reduce down any remaining marinade as a sauce, but ours was delicious straight off the grill. Sit back and enjoy summer!
- Almost any, or no, marinade will work for this dish. Ideally, if using a marinade, make it thick enough to stay on the meat while on the grill; a thinned-down chutney, BBQ sauce, teriyaki, fruit glaze – the options are nearly endless. The key is maintaining some moisture while on the grill, so while a pre-soak in the marinade is lovely, it’s not really necessary if you don’t have the time.
- Try a rub with finely minced garlic, or dried garlic powder; then, once done searing, grill on top of water-soaked rosemary sprigs. The rosemary will smoke and impart a lovely, rosemary-smoky flavor to the meat. Soak rosemary sprigs for at least 1 hour so they will smoke, not burn.
- For a larger tenderloin, cut into equal sized pieces prior to grilling; this will ensure that the middle cooks before the ends have become too dry. Smaller is generally better on the grill!
The meat will last for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.