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Barbecue Secrets

Recipe of the Week: Tasty Pork Tenderloin Treatments

May 17, 2013

These little cylinders of tender, juicy pork are a staple of Chinese cooking and are wonderful on the grill, and they’re also ideally suited to planking. They have just the right amount of surface area to cook quickly without losing moisture. They go with all flavors of smoke, from cedar to mesquite. And they take to marinades and rubs extremely well. Here are some basic techniques and a little collection of ideas for how to flavor pork tenderloin, but use your imagination and experiment with your favorite rubs, marinades, and basting sauces.


Marinate and/or rub the tenderloin and have it ready to go before you start the grill. (Three small tenderloins are usually enough for 4 servings.) I like to drizzle a little olive oil or vegetable oil on them just before putting them on the grill.

Preheat the grill on medium-high for 5–10 minutes, or until the chamber temperature rises above 500°F | 260°C.


If you’re cooking the tenderloins on a gas or charcoal grill, it couldn’t be more simple. Make sure your cooking grate is clean (use a wire brush; I prefer to scrape the grate after the grill has been preheated), When your grill is preheated, just place the meat over direct heat and cover the grill. Use a pair of tongs to turn the tenderloins every few minutes, and cook until the temperature in the thickest part is 140F. (This will give you juicy pork cooked to a medium doneness. The internal temperature will come up slightly when you let the meat rest.) Take the meat off the grill and let it rest, tented loosely in foil, for about five minutes.

Plank Cooking

If you’re cooking the tenderloins on a plank, be sure to soak the plank in cold water for at least a couple of hours or overnight. Preheat the grill as described above. Place the soaked plank on the cooking grate. Cover the grill and heat the plank for 4–5 minutes, or until it starts to throw off a bit of smoke and crackles lightly. Reduce the heat to medium and place the tenderloins on the plank (you can fit three or four on a plank, depending on the size of the tenderloins and the plank. Cook for 10 minutes, turn the meat, and cook for another 5–10 minutes, basting if you like, until the pork is springy to the touch or reaches an internal temperature of 140°F | 60°C. If you like, just before the tenderloins are ready, you can move the tenderloin from the plank onto the cooking grate and char the outside, or caramelize it if it’s coated with barbecue sauce

Finishing the Tenderloins

When they’re ready, take the tenderloins out of the grill, tent it in foil, and let it rest for a few minutes before serving it. Carve the tenderloin into 1⁄2- to 1-inch | 1 to 2.5 cm medallions and apply whatever sauce or garnish is called for.

Here are some wonderful ways to treat pork tenderloin, one of the most versatile and delicious meats:

Classic Barbecue: Coat the pork with ballpark mustard, then sprinkle it with your favorite barbecue rub. Cook it on a hickory or fruitwood plank till it’s nearly done and finish it with a light glaze of barbecue sauce. Serve more sauce on the side.

Easy Asian: Marinate the pork with soy or teryaki sauce and finish it with a coating of hoi sin sauce, plum sauce or an Asian-flavoured barbecue sauce.

Spice-Crusted: Season the pork with salt and pepper, drizzle it with oil, and coat it with minced garlic, toasted fennel and cumin seeds, and a little cinnamon. Serve it with chopped cilantro and your favorite chutney.

Balsamic: Coat the pork with balsamic reduction and, if you plan ahead, marinate it overnight. Before cooking, sprinkle on some chopped fresh rosemary and granulated garlic. Serve the pork with a sprinkle of salt and pepper, a further drizzle of the balsamic reduction and some chopped fresh mint.

Harvest Time: Season the pork with salt and pepper and coat it with a rub made with light brown sugar, powdered ginger, a sprinkle of freshly grated nutmeg, a pinch of clove, and a little cayenne pepper. Baste it with melted apple jelly and serve it with baked apples or apple slices that have been fried in butter with a sprinkle of brown sugar added at the last minute.

Southwestern: Flavor the pork with salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, dried oregano and granulated onion and serve it with wedges of lime, some salsa and cornbread or corn tortillas.