Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sweet, Hot, and Salty!

It's always grilling season in my world, but especially in the summer. Here's my favorite throw-together sweet, salty and spicy dry spice rub for pork tenderloin made easy-peasy.


Take one of these:

Behold! A Six Ounce Pyrex Custard Cup!

Which, frankly, you should already have a bunch of in your kitchen. They are ridiculously handy for mise en place as well as the king of custard, creme brûlée.

Fill the custard cup around halfway with brown sugar. Don't get all freaked out, now. Those tenderloins are big and you have a lot of surface to cover.

I wouldn't Paula Deen you.
Cover the brown sugar in a layer of coarse salt. Sea salt, kosher salt, it's up to you so long as it is coarse. You may be tempted to grind it. Don't. Trust me.

Next, add a layer of Cayenne pepper to taste. I like it hot and heavy, myself.

Then add a layer of your choice of paprika, be it smoked or standard. I like it smokey.

Grind in some fresh black pepper and mix it all together. Take your tenderloin, (silver skin off, fat on), and place it into a flat, shallow vessel. Coat the meat evenly in a tablespoon of olive oil and then sprinkle the spice rub on it. Gently work the rub around the tenderloin with your hands until it is completely coated. Be sure to get under any flaps.

This rub can be thrown together in minutes, saving time for the next step: slow grilling.

Place the tenderloin over indirect heat and cover. After twelve or so minutes flip it and let it go another ten-ish. This will vary by as much as five minutes depending on the type of grill and heat. I'm using my recent gas grill, ( one burner off, two on and set to the low end of high), preparation as a guide. Know your heat and meat, friends. Just be sure to use indirect heat at first and don't rush it. Pork cooks best slowly. Be patient.

At this point your tenderloin should be nearing your target temperature, (suggested is 170 degrees Fahrenheit but I shoot for 5 degrees under that mark, do as thou wilt). If you're uncomfortable judging doneness for yourself, don't be afraid to get a thermometer. Just keep in mind that you're going to be leaking juices from the probe hole. Heh.

Now place the meat over direct heat, (not flames), to get some extra caramelization on the exterior. This is no more than a couple of minutes on each side, and keep an eye on it. The sugar goes black quickly if unattended. Allow room in your timing for the meat to cook more while resting so as not to overcook. Dry pork is a sad, sad, sad thing.

And you're done! My ideal is just barely pink in the middle with a sweet, salty, spicy caramelized crust. I serve it with red beans and rice as well as a side salad involving mixed greens and apple. Cannellini beans, rice pilaf, and a spinach, red onion, and apple salad with a smokey mustard vinaigrette is also lovely. You do whatever suits you. Go nuts.



Enjoy!