When selecting a cut of meat for the grill, one will often encounter pork loin and pork tenderloin in the meat case. What is the difference? The pork loin is the tender, lean cut of meat from the back of the animal, often packaged as a whole pork loin, boneless chops or as a pork loin roast. The pork tenderloin is a portion of the group of loin muscles taken from the inside of the loin. The tenderloin is leaner, smaller, more tender and most often packaged in pairs. Tenderloin is often found braised or roasted, cut in medallions and served in a number of ways. For a fantastic grilled tenderloin that is juicy and as lean as chicken, this simple method will have you grilling pork all season long.
As a canvas for adding just about any flavor one could imagine, pork lends itself very well to being seasoned and marinated to infuse your favorite flavors, which is why it is one of the most versatile meats used in many cultures across the globe. For our method of grilling, we’ll use a dry rub to season our meat and give a nice crust to the meat while grilling. A fantastic, easy dry rub for tenderloin can be made with the following (although any of the Croix Valley BBQ Dry Rubs or Barbecuse Boosters work great):
- 6 Tablespoons Granulated Garlic
- 2 teaspoon Paprika
- ½ teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
- ½ teaspoon Coarse Ground Black Pepper
Prepare the tenderloin by coating all sides with the dry rub, massaging into the meat thoroughly. Prepare your grill to a medium-high heat of approximately 375-400°F. As I have advocated for numerous times, I again suggest the use of lump hardwood charcoal or adding wood chips to the gas grill to get the most out of the grilling experience. There’s no sense grilling, if you don’t maximize the smoky flavors of this fantastic heat source!
Place the tenderloins on the grill over indirect heat and cover. Cooking chops or pork steak can be quick and easy over direct heat, but with a thicker cut such as the tenderloin, you’ll need to allow the ambient heat inside the grill to do some of the cooking as well, rather than the high heat from the hottest part of the coals. To achieve zones of indirect heat, simply bank your coals to one side of the grill, or turn off at least one burner on the gas grill and place the meat in that area.
Grill your tenderloins for approximately 8-10 minutes per side, and then turn over. Being a tubular cut of meat, the goal would be to grill the meat on 4 sides until done. Using a stem thermometer, periodically check the meat until it has reached an internal temperature in the thickest part of the tenderloin of at least 145°F. Wrap the tenderloins in aluminum foil and let rest for an additional 10 minutes before serving. The rest period will allow the juices of the meat to redistribute throughout, maintaining a tender, juicy meal at every bite.
This method of grilling tenderloin is simple and requires little attention on the grill. Once done, it is the perfect cut of meat to add your favorite sauces, or simply serve beside a bed of pasta or vegetables. Try experimenting with different seasonings or marinade ahead of time to add additional dimensions of flavor. One thing is definite, you’ll be grilling tenderloin time and again once you realize how easy and delicious this can be!
Keep on grillin’!