This is the second Mother’s Day in a row that I’ve tried to make dinner for my mom, but the first time I’ve been successful. Last year I attempted to cook some quail and pheasant I’d killed on a hunting trip, and I didn’t really know what I was doing when it came to game birds. They turned out dry and tough, and the meal wasn’t exactly the treat I was hoping it would be. A year of experience and a great recipe can make a huge difference, I guess.
This year, I put in a lot more planning and ended up with a perfect spring meal. I marinated a whole pork tenderloin in a spicy, sort of Asian mixture of soy sauce, rice vinegar, sriracha, etc. Thanks for the recipe, Mrs. Appley! I grilled that along with some artichokes, and for another side I stole one of my roommates ideas and made a watermelon salad. The only tricky thing was the pork; grilling large cuts of meat over charcoal is always a balancing act between getting the outside nice and charred but leaving the inside moist and tender. From my research beforehand, I knew that the pork should have an internal temperature of 140-150 degrees, but I was worried I’d ruined it when I saw how charred it got. As it turned out, I totally nailed the pork and then also took possibly the best picture I’ve taken for this blog, period. My advice would be to put your pork over medium-high heat and keep a close eye on it, then use an instant read thermometer to monitor the temperature after you’ve gotten all the sides nice and blackened.
1 1/2 tablespoons pickled jalapenos
1/2 tablespoon dried red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons Sriracha chili sauce
6 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons sesame oil
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 whole pork tenderloin
- Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Blend well. Pour ingredients into a 1 gallon Ziplock bag with the pork. Marinate the pork in the fridge overnight or for as long as you have. I did this in the morning and cooked it at night, so it only soaked for 6-7 hours. Remove the pork from the refrigerator an hour or two before you’re planning to cook it.
- Heat up a grill to medium or medium-high heat. I was at my parents house, so I had the luxury of using a Big Green Egg. On a gas grill, you’d probably heat it up to around 350 or 400 degrees. Keeping your hood open, place the meat on the grill and let it rest on the first side for about 5 minutes without touching it. This will give you a nice char.
- Since pork tenderloin is a tubular cut of meat, the best approach is to grill it as if it had 3 or 4 sides. After you char the first side well, roll the tenderloin slightly to cook it on the next side. Grill on each side for a total of 15-20 minutes or until the meat feels springy to the touch and the internal temperature reads 140-150 degrees.
- When you take off the pork, tent the plate with foil and let it rest for 10 minutes or so, during which time you could prepare a watermelon salad (watermelon chunks, feta cheese, bacon bits, olive oil and red wine vinegar). After you let the meat rest and the juices redistribute, you should have perfectly cooked, pink on the inside, charred on the outside pork tenderloin. Happy Mother’s Day!