Summer has finally arrived in Nova Scotia! This week, the sun has been out and the temperature has finally climbed above 20°. While us Bluenosers have been known to BBQ in the middle of a snowstorm, now it’s prime grilling season. This pork tenderloin is an easy recipe for a summer evening, and the sweet potatoes compliment it perfectly – you’re getting a two for one deal today!
I will admit to being a barbeque novice. My husband has always done the grilling in our house, but I decided this year that it was time for me to learn. The cooking part I can handle just fine, but I’m a little anxious about lighting the BBQ. My husband was playing baseball the night I grilled the pork, so I did it from start to finish on my own – he was impressed!
This pork tenderloin recipe came from a Food Network Magazine several years ago and has been in our meal rotation ever since. It’s fast and flavourful, and perfect for summer since it takes a bit of advance prep.
Ideally, you want the pork to chill for 3 – 6 hours before cooking. A bit longer is fine, I’ve often put the rub on before going to work and then cooked the pork for supper. Even an hour of chilling will help the flavour penetrate. If you’re really pressed for time, you can put the rub on and throw the pork right on the grill, but it won’t have as much depth of flavour.
You’ll need a pork tenderloin, olive oil, brown sugar and some basic spices. I typically buy a 500-600 gram tenderloin (just over a pound) and get 3 generous servings out of it. It would easily feed 2 grown-ups and 2 kiddos. If you’re feeding a bigger crowd, you can use more tenderloins, the rub can stretch to cover two.
Throw the pork on a cutting board (you might want to give it a rinse if it’s been shrink-wrapped in plastic) and trim off the fat. Some tenderloins come very well-trimmed, but some will need a bit more attention. You want to make sure you cut off the membrane under the fat, known as the silverskin, as it can be tough.
Plop the pork on a large piece of plastic wrap. Press and Seal or another brand name plastic wrap will make this job a bit easier than the cheap stubborn stuff.
Drizzle olive oil over the pork and give it a quick rub to get it all coated.
Mix the dry rub ingredients together in a small bowl.
I sometimes change things up and use chipotle chili powder rather than regular. It’s potent stuff, so you may want to cut back the amount a bit, and use regular instead of smoked paprika to avoid a double dose of smoke. I’ve changed the recipe a bit since photographing it, that incarnation was “burn your face off” spicy!
Sprinkle the dry rub over the pork, turning it over to make sure that both sides are coated. Pat the rub lightly to make sure that it adheres.
Wrap the plastic wrap around the pork, place on a plate and refrigerate for three to six hours.
About 30 minutes before you plan to cook it, take the meat out to let it come to room temperature.
Preheat your grill, when it reaches about 400°, stick the pork on. Grill over indirect heat, turning occasionally, for 20-25 minutes.
Food Safety Notice:
I am the queen of paranoia when it comes to undercooked meat. My mom teaches food safety courses and taught me about the dangers of food-borne illness early – and I tend to take it to extremes. That said, I’ve relaxed a bit as I’ve learned more about cooking, and my meat thermometer is my best friend in the kitchen.
My research tells me that the USDA considers pork to be safely cooked at a temperature of 145°, accounting for a rest time that lets the temperature rise further. Health Canada still recommends a final temperature of 160°. I usually cook pork until it registers about 150°, take it off the heat, and check the temperature again after a few minutes of resting. If it isn’t 160° or very close, I’ll throw it back on for a minute or two.
Let the pork rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Roasted sweet potatoes are the perfect complement to the grilled pork. If it’s too hot to think about turning on the oven, you could even cook them in a foil pan on the grill! Preheat the oven to 425°.
You’ll need a spice mix very similar to what you used on the pork.
Peel and dice a large sweet potato (about 450 g or a pound.) Like the pork, this yields 3 good sized servings, and can easily be stretched farther with another potato or two. Toss the potato cubes in a large bowl or Ziplock bag.
Combine the sugar and spices in a small bowl.
Drizzle the potatoes with oil and toss until evenly coated.
Sprinkle with the spice mixture and shake the potatoes around until they are all coated.
Spread the potatoes out on a foil-lined baking sheet. Keeping them separated will help them get crispier.
Roast the potatoes for 20 minutes, then flip them with a large spatula. Bake for another 5-10 minutes, keeping a close eye on them. When the potatoes are tender and browned to your liking, take them out.
Serve immediately. They are tasty with a spicy mayo but we like them with ketchup (much to my mom’s chagrin!)
Add something green and you have a perfect summer supper!
Spicy Grilled Pork Tenderloin
Adapted from Food Network Magazine
- 1 pork tenderloin (500-600 g or just over a pound)
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder
Trim any excess fat from the tenderloin, making sure to get rid of the silverskin, the tough membrane under the fat. Place the tenderloin on a large piece of plastic wrap. Drizzle with the oil.
Mix the dry rub ingredients in a small bowl. Sprinkle half of the rub over the pork, gently patting it on to help it adhere. Flip the pork over and spoon the rest of the rub over the other side.
Wrap the pork in the plastic wrap and chill for 3 – 6 hours.
Remove the pork from the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to cooking.
Grill over medium heat for 20-25 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part reads at least 145°. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Adapted from Cooking Light Real Family Food by Amanda Haas
- 1 large sweet potato (about 400 grams)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
Preheat oven to 425°.
Peel the sweet potato and cut into 1 inch cubes.
In a large bowl, toss the sweet potato cubes with the olive oil until thoroughly coated.
Mix the remaining ingredients together in a small bowl. Sprinkle the seasonings over the potato cubes and toss until evenly coated.
Spread the potatoes out on a foil-covered baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes.
Flip the potatoes and roast for 5 – 10 minutes longer, until tender and starting to brown.