While most of the country waits until Memorial Day to unofficially start their summer, we in the Twin Cities jump into the spirit of the season long before the end of May. We don’t care if the weather is cooperating or not. The urge to fire up our grills is too strong after a long, cold winter.

For that reason, by the time Memorial Day is over we may have already had our fill of the traditional burgers, hot dogs and barbecued chicken, and are looking for something new and different to throw on the grill.

Consider the tenderloin. I’m not talking about the ultraexpensive beef version. Reach for the pork tenderloin.

Pork on the grill is not exactly a revolutionary idea. Pork chops and pork shoulders or butts are barbecue staples, but tenderloins are often thought to be too lean to successfully grill, as lean meats can be less flavorful and easier to dry out.

I find those problems easy to avoid if you marinate the meat and make sure to cook it to the proper temperature, which according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is 145 degrees. Use indirect heat (which simply means not cooking the meat directly over the heat).

Of course, once you master the protein side of the plate, you still have to decide what to serve with it. Slaw is a tangy, crunchy foil to the smokiness of grilled meats, which is why you see it on the menu of so many BBQ joints.

Rather than rely on the standard creamy coleslaw, I suggest a lighter version, made with thinly sliced sugar snap peas. The peas are sweet and crunchy, and the dressing is brightly flavored with lemon juice, honey and freshly grated ginger, resulting in a unique and easy to make side dish.

Combined with the moist, tender pork tenderloin, it’s a home run. And while it’s a departure from the traditional barbecue fare, once you’ve tried it, it will no doubt become a standard at your house this summer.

 

Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at meredith@meredithdeeds.com. Follow her on Twitter: @meredithdeeds.