Grills and pork go hand in hand. With pork tenderloin, this lean cut of meat lends itself well to the relative high heat and open flames you get with a grill. There are, however, some steps to take to ensure you end up with a tasty, juicy final product.
Tip 1: Trim your meat. Pork tenderloin doesn’t have much fat on it, but unless you buy your cut pre-trimmed, there should be some fat clinging to the outside, which can cause flares and burning on a grill. A sharp knife will allow you to remove this fat very easily. Pork tenderloin also contains what’s known as ‘silver skin,’ a silvery tissue that’s very tough and needs to be removed before cooking. Luckily, it’s easy to spot and remove. Using a sharp knife, insert just under the silver skin near the top of the tenderloin, and cut towards the top. The silver skin is thin, so you shouldn’t have to go very deep at all. You should now have a flap that you can hold, and trim back down the loin with shallow cuts until all the silver skin is removed.
Tip 2: Marinate your meat. Unlike most steaks, a pork tenderloin is a lean cut of meat. A marinade allows you to add flavor and moisture to your food, so it can be the extra step between a good meal and a great one. For a marinade, you need an acid, first and foremost. This can be anything from lemon or lime juice to vinegar. Anyone who’s enjoyed the pairing of pork chops and applesauce can tell you how those flavors go together, so apple cider vinegar is a good start for a pork marinade. From there, you can add salt, pepper and any spices or herbs that you desire. Rosemary is a traditional accompaniment to pork, garlic is always welcome and if you like spice in your food, some red pepper flake or cayenne can give your tenderloin a kick. I recommend starting your marinade at least a few hours before cooking, but the longer the meat soaks, the better off it will be. You can start your marinade up to 24 hours in advance. For a quick, easy sauce, reserve some of your marinade before you add the pork, and add back to the tenderloin when plating. For a bit more flavor, you’ll need a sauce pan and a burner. Brown some thinly sliced onions in the pan, add the reserved marinade and reduce the sauce. The flavors will intensify and the onions will give a little something special to the taste.
Tip 3: Turn your meat. Foods that do well on a grill are usually flat and uniformly shaped. A tenderloin, however, is cylindrical and gets smaller at one end, making grilling a bit more involved than usual. If you give the tenderloin a quarter turn every few minutes of cooking time, it’ll cook evenly. Medium-medium high heat is the goal here, this will give time to cook the meat through without burning the outside. The target temperature inside the meat should be about 150 degrees, which will put you safely out of any bacterial danger while leaving your pork juicy and a slightly-pink medium. If someone likes their meat more well-done, those smaller ends of the tenderloin cook quicker and should meet their tastes.
Tip 4: Rest your meat. Just like steaks and roasts, a pork tenderloin is filled with delicious juices that, if cut right off the grill, will escape out of the meat. Resting the pork for 10-15 minutes after removing it from the grill will ensure those juices stay inside.
As for the rest of the meal, grilled corn and carrots have a natural sweetness that matches nicely with pork. You could also do a baked potato on the grill. No matter what you serve with it, pork tenderloin makes a delicious meal.