A little frustrated with the early “June gloom” weather we’ve had for a week or so, I decided to break the mood a little by grilling our dinner the other evening. For this meal, I had two pork tenderloins, roughly 1 lb. each, and a few nice zucchini squashes. One of the tenderloins was destined for the freezer after cooking, for quick dinner duty later on.
Pork tenderloin is one of our favorites, but it can easily dry out on the grill because, obviously, it is a very lean cut of meat. On the grill, fat it good. So, what to do? I used a technique that I picked up from a recipe for grilled pork and peaches that I found on the NYTimes. A cast-iron griddle is placed on the grill and the meat is cooked on the griddle instead of directly over the fire. This allows for the introduction of some fat in the form of butter or oil, and the use of high heat to get a nice, crunchy surface on the meat without drying out the insides. I have used this method for grilling fish, as well, and find that it not only results in fish that is nicely browned while staying moist and flakey, but also that it makes it much easier to turn the fish over without having it fall apart.
I brined the meat for about two hours, and then rubbed it with a paste of salt, garlic, thyme, and olive oil, and let it sit for another half hour or so, while I prepped the zucchini and lit the grill. The squashes were washed, trimmed and sliced in half lengthwise, then tossed with some olive oil, salt and pepper.
I placed the griddle in the center of the grill, lit all three burners, closed the lid, and let the griddle and the grill preheat for about 15 minutes. This gets the griddle very hot, so be careful if you try this.
Once the griddle was preheated, I brushed it with some butter, placed the tenderloins on it, dotted them with a few small bits of butter, turned the middle burner (under the griddle) to low, and closed the lid.
After 5 minutes, I turned the tenderloins, surrounded them with a few rosemary sprigs, and added the zucchini to the grill, placing them not on the griddle, but directly on the cooking grate, which had been brushed with a little oil.
After another 5 minutes, I turned the zucchini and turned the middle burner off. From this point on the meat cooked from the residual heat in the griddle and the indirect heat from the two other burners.
Another 5 minutes and the zucchini was done so it came off and went into the kitchen to stay warm under some foil. At this point I made my first temperature check on the meat, and closed the lid again. I took one tenderloin off when it’s internal temp hit 130ºF and took it into the kitchen to cool. This was the one to be frozen for later use. The other tenderloin cooked until it reached 140º. I took it into the kitchen and put it on the cutting board to rest while I plated the salads and zucchini, sliced some bread, and poured the drinks.
I served the meat sliced at a bit of an angle with some of its juices drizzled over. You can see the crispy outside, which smells and tastes of garlic and salt and thyme and a hint of rosemary, and the juicy, tender interior.
Our usual salad of greens, vegetables, and avocado with dijon vinaigrette, and another episode of Midsomer Murders on Acorn TV made for an excellent evening. The weather? Forget about it! This is SoCal – it’ll only get better.