Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Grilled Pork Tenderloin

"How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways!"

Although I have a sinking suspicion Elizabeth Barrett Browning penned these words about a fine male specimen, I think they are equally appropriate for a fine porcine specimen.  Pork.  Ah, glorious pork.

I think pork has a bad reputation due to generations of overcooking, misconceptions of fattiness, and, potentially, Wilbur from Charlotte's Web.  But these objections can be overcome!  Well, except for that third one.  How can you eat "some pig!?"  Just don't think about it.

Easy to solve.  USE A MEAT THERMOMETER.  This is a bit of a battle cry for me.  For years I was terrified to cook protein.  I could never tell when it was done!  And being a bit of a weenie when it comes to eating raw meat, this was a major obstacle.  But I purchased a cheap-o meat thermometer, and I've been on easy street ever since.

Pork should be served at an internal temperature of 145-150 degrees.  This means you should cook your pork to an internal temperature of 135 degrees, then take it off the heat.  Cover it with some foil, and let that baby rest for about 10 minutes.  During these extra minutes, the pork will keep cooking and come to the correct serving temperature.  Also, a bonus, the juiciness gets re-distributed.  (FYI, the pork will be a little pink at 145-150 degrees.)

**Please note, these temperatures are for deliciousness, not for food safety.  I don't work for the USDA, so don't sue me if your 150 degree pork makes you barf.  That's just too darn bad.

My favorite type of lil' piggie to cook at home is pork tenderloin.  It cooks quickly and is the perfect size for a household of two (plus a little for leftovers.)  The other nice thing about pork tenderloin is that it's lean.  In four ounces, there are 164 calories, 6 grams of fat, and a whopping 23 grams of protein!  Not too shabby.

So, here's a good technique for grilling pork tenderloin.  Come on back tomorrow to see some of my favorite dry rubs for pork.

Grilled Pork Tenderloin
Serves 6-8

vegetable oil
2 pork tenderloins (3/4 to 1 pound each)
salt and pepper (or dry spice rub...more on this tomorrow!)

Preheat the grill until very hot.  Oil the grill grates using a bit of paper towel that's been dipped in oil.  (Use tongs to hold the paper towel or risk burning off your arm hair.)

Meanwhile, pat the pork dry.  Rub each tenderloin with about 2 teaspoons of oil.  Season with salt and pepper or dry rub, if using.

Grill the tenderloins, covered, until browned on all sides.  Turn the tenderloin throughout cooking to ensure even browning on all sides.  Once the tenderloin has reached an internal temperature of 135 degrees (about 12-15 minutes), remove it to a cutting board and tent with foil.  Let the pork rest 5-10 minutes until it has reached an internal temperature of 145-150 degrees.  Slice on the diagonal and serve.

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