I think of pork tenderloins as the often overlooked portion of the pig. Which when you think about it is really a shame. It’s the same cut that is used to make filet mignon, just from a pig, not a cow. It’s a very lean cut of meat and since it is not weight bearing, it contains less connective tissue and is extremely tender when cooked right. In the barbecue world, however, most of the attention goes to ribs and butts and even pork belly. Granted, you do not want to cook a tenderloin low and slow, but it’s still a wonderful cut of meat when grilled over high heat.
Last night, I wanted to do something other than just grill a whole tenderloin. I looked for recipes, but most contain fruit of some kind. Nothing wrong with that, but if you’ve ever met Mrs. G, you would know that wouldn’t fly in our house. Somewhere along the line, my ADHD kicked in and I found myself looking up compound butters, don’t ask me how that happened. Then it hit me…why not treat the tenderloin like individual steaks and top it with a compound butter? And since a pork tenderloin is the same cut as a beef tenderloin, why not wrap it in bacon and treat it like a filet mignon? (I know this isn’t rocket science and it’s not something new under the sun, I’m just explaining how my thought process works)
- one pork tenderloin (Yes, I know they usually come two to a bag. I need to figure out what to do with the other one)
- 7 or 8 slices of bacon
- 1/2 stick of butter, softened
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 tsp of your favorite BBQ rub + more to season the medallions (we used Salt Lick)
- Combine butter, mustard, garlic and 1 tsp BBQ rub in a small bowl. Spoon the mixture onto a piece of plastic wrap and roll tightly into a cylinder. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Lay one slice of bacon on a cutting board. Using the bacon as a guide, slice your tenderloin into 7 or 8 medallions the same width as the strip of bacon. (The amount will vary depending on the size of the tenderloin and you may not even want to bother with the 8th one as one size of the tenderloin will taper down on the end. You can see at the top left of the picture above, that my 7th and 8th one are much smaller)
- Wrap each medallion with a slice of bacon until it just overlaps and then cut off the remainder of the bacon (save remaining bacon for some later use. You’re smart, I know you’ll figure something out). Use a toothpick to secure the bacon.
- Lightly dust your medallions with your favorite BBQ rub and place in the refrigerator until ready to grill.
- Set up your grill for a direct cook and pre-heat to 400F.
- Grill medallions for 3 minutes per side, then stand on end to crisp up the bacon. “Roll” the medallions every minute or two to crisp up each side. Cook until 135-140 depending on how rare you like your pork, about 10-12 minutes.
- Remove from grill and allow to rest for 5 minutes loosely tented with foil. Remove compound butter from refrigerator at this time.
- After 5 minutes, top each pork medallion with a slice of the compound butter.
I really like how the above picture turned out. Shooting pictures of fire is not an easy task, especially when it’s dark out (we got a really late start on dinner) and you have minimal outdoor lighting. Not the best pic in the world, but I still like it.
Resting your meat after cooking it allows the muscle fibers in the meat to relax and the juices to redistribute throughout the meat. If you slice into your meat right after it comes off the grill, you will end up with a puddle of juice and a dry hunk of meat. That is no bueno. By allowing the meat to cool, the muscle fibers will relax and when you slice into it, the juices will stay right where you want them, in the meat and not on your plate. Five to ten minutes is good for a steak, longer is better for a roast or large piece of meat. So endeth today’s science lesson.
Tonight’s dinner was served up with a simple salad and roasted cauliflower. As you can see from the above picture, when the pork was sliced on the plate, we did not end up with a puddle of juices. Although that piece might have cooked a bit more than I would have liked, it was still tender and juicy. The bacon added a salty flavor while the Salt Lick rub added a bit of peppery heat. The garlic mustard compound butter placed on top and allowed to melt down onto the pork added a rich depth to the tenderloins. It might not be healthy, but it sure tasted good and was a step up from grilling a plain, whole tenderloin. One last thing before I let you go…don’t forget to remove those toothpicks.