You’ve got the grill hot. The burgers are ready. Or maybe some marinated flank steak. After all, beef is the meat most of us reach for when we grill. Way down the list: pork tenderloin. The forgotten cut?
As a changeup from burgers, steaks and hot dogs, pork tenderloins offer a lot: a flexible canvas (the mild flavor takes well to marinades, glazes and sauces), ease, speed and tenderness.
If you don’t grill the cut often, there are many new grilling books this season that offer smart ideas.
Among our favorites: pounding the meat thinner to generate more surface area to build flavor from the grill and marinade (from “Master of the Grill” from America’s Test Kitchen), and making an easy stuffing to tuck into butterflied tenderloins (from “The Smoking Bacon and Hog Cookbook” by Bill Gillespie).
Either idea is adaptable to your own recipes. Just heat the grill and go.
CRANBERRY AND GOAT CHEESE-STUFFED TENDERLOIN
Serves 6 to 8.
Note: Adapted from “The Smoking Bacon and Hog Cookbook” by Bill Gillespie. Borrowing from a “Master of the Grill” tip, you can pound the tenderloins to 1/4-inch thick, so that you have more surface to fold over the filling.
• 2 pork tenderloins (1 lb. each)
• Salt and pepper
• 2 tbsp. olive oil, plus more for coating the meat
• 1 medium shallot, chopped
• 1/2 c. coarsely chopped dried cranberries
• 1/2 c. chopped dried apricots
• 1 c. (about 5 oz.) goat cheese, softened
Prepare a charcoal grill for two-zone cooking by placing hot coals on one side while keeping the other clear for indirect heat.
Butterfly the tenderloins: Make an incision halfway through each tenderloin, along the entire length, so they open like a book. Be careful not to cut all the way through. Season the inside with salt and pepper.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet; cook the shallots, cranberries and apricots until softened, about 5 minutes.
Spread half the goat cheese in the center of each tenderloin. Spoon half the fruit filling on top of each. Close each tenderloin; tie with kitchen string at 1-inch intervals. Coat exterior with olive oil (or use cooking spray); season with salt and pepper.
Place tenderloins directly over coals; close the cover. Cook, 3 to 5 minutes. Flip the tenderloins; cook, 3 to 5 minutes. Move the tenderloins to the indirect-heat zone. Close the grill; cook until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 150 degrees, about 20 minutes. (If using a gas grill, brown both sides over direct heat as above, then move to a zone without flame beneath to finish.)
Transfer tenderloins to a board; allow to rest 10 minutes before cutting in 1/2-inch slices.
Nutrition information per each of 8 servings:
Calories 275 Fat 12 g Sodium 140 mg Saturated fat 5 g
Carbohydrates 12 g Total sugars 9 g
Protein 29 g Cholesterol 80 mg Dietary fiber 1 g
Exchanges per serving: 1 carb, 4 lean protein, 1 fat.
GRILLED GARLIC-LIME PORK TENDERLOIN STEAKS
Serves 4 to 6.
Note: Fish sauce is available in the Asian section of the supermarket. Adapted from “Master of the Grill” from America’s Test Kitchen.
• 2 pork tenderloins, 1 lb. each, trimmed
• 1 tbsp. grated lime zest plus 1/4 c. juice (2 limes)
• 4 garlic cloves, minced
• 4 tsp. honey
• 2 tsp. fish sauce (see Note)
• 3/4 tsp. salt
• 1/2 tsp. pepper
• 1/2 c. vegetable oil
• 4 tsp. mayonnaise
• 1 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
• Flake sea salt, optional
Slice each tenderloin in half crosswise to create 4 steaks total. Pound each half to 3/4-inch thickness. Using sharp knife, cut 1/8-inch-deep slits spaced 1/2 inch apart in crosshatch pattern on both sides of steaks.
Whisk lime zest and juice, garlic, honey, fish sauce, salt and pepper together in a large bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle oil into mixture until smooth and slightly thickened. Transfer 1/2 cup lime mixture to small bowl and whisk in mayonnaise; set aside sauce.
Add steaks to bowl with remaining marinade and toss thoroughly to coat; transfer steaks and marinade to a zip-top bag, press out as much air as possible and seal bag. Let steaks sit at room temperature for 45 minutes.
Prepare charcoal grill for two-zone heat. Remove steaks from marinade (do not pat dry), and place over hotter part of grill. Cook, uncovered, until well browned on first side, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip steaks and cook until well browned on second side, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer steaks to cooler part of grill, with wider end of each steak facing hotter part of grill. Cover and cook until meat registers 145 degrees, 3 to 8 minutes longer. (If using a gas grill, brown both sides over direct heat as above, then move to a zone without flame beneath to finish.) Transfer steaks to a carving board; let rest for 5 minutes.
Microwave reserved sauce until warm, 15 to 30 seconds; stir in cilantro. Slice steaks against grain into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Drizzle with half of sauce; sprinkle with sea salt, if using; and serve, passing remaining sauce separately.
Nutrition information per each of 6 servings:
Calories 350 Fat 21 g Sodium 410 mg Saturated fat 4 g
Carbohydrates 4 g Total sugars 3 g
Protein 34 g Cholesterol 95 mg Dietary fiber 0 g
Exchanges per serving: 5 lean protein, 2 fat.