In June, I wrote about my desire to grill a pork tenderloin. I’ve eaten my share of tasty pork chops, pork roasts, and pork tenderloins over the years, but have never grilled one. Last Friday, for Brad’s birthday, the two of us undertook the challenge. In reality, it was much easier than we thought.
I did a little online searching beforehand for marinades and saw several recipes that looked good. In the end, we opted to use some leftover Korean marinade that we had in the refrigerator. I know, you’re laughing right now because you know how happy this made me to use something that was hanging out in my frig. (See What’s in Your Refrigerator if you’re confused.)
I marinated the pork tenderloin for 24 hours, flipping the bag occasionally to ensure that the sauce covered all parts of the meat. The biggest uncertainty we had was how long to grill the pork tenderloin. I purchased one that was just under 3 ½ pounds. The blogs I checked said to allow approximately 22 minutes of cooking time for each pound of meat. This was based on 350 degrees. One important step was to sear the meat immediately after placing it on the grill to lock in the flavor. Most recommended a minute and a half per side. This was a crucial step and one that was spot on. Brad seared one side for more than the allotted time and the meat started to burn. For the other side, he followed the directions exactly, with perfect results. Lesson learned. After searing the meat, Brad moved the pork tenderloin off to the side so it wasn’t over direct heat. We use a charcoal grill, by the way.
Now it was matter of flipping the pork tenderloin every 15 minutes or so. The other key piece we learned was how quickly the meat cooked on a hot grill. Using a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature was crucial. The temps for cooking pork have changed in recent years. I remember when people said to cook pork until it was 160 degrees. Now most sources said to cook the meat until the thermometer registered 140-150 degrees. I wanted to err on the side of 140 degrees since the meat would rest for 10 minutes or so, cooking it further.
Once the meat started to cook internally, things went fast. After testing the temperature at one point, Brad registered temps of 160 degrees on the ends of the pork tenderloin and 140 degrees in the middle. We pulled the meat off and let it rest. Were I to do this over, I would have pulled the meat off the grill sooner. Our grill probably had temperatures close to 500 degrees, a long way from 350 degrees. (Controlling temperatures is harder with a charcoal grill.) However, our pork tenderloin was still moist and released plenty of juices. If we had pulled it off the grill five minutes earlier, it would have been perfect.
Rounding out the rest of the meal was grilled zucchini and roasted potatoes. For dessert, Chocolate Eclair Cake–a childhood favorite of Brad’s and one that is easy to make. We ate dinner on the deck as a family and then watched a beautiful sunset at West Meadow Beach, making me wish that summer would last forever.