It started simple enough. The day, as it unfolded, was young and full of promise, including the weather. High skies, as the saying goes, as blue as that polyester suit I still have hanging in my closet, with the white buttons and matching pinstripe trim. The sky was accompanied by a slow, gentle, but steady breeze, the kind normally reserved for a perfect day at the beach.
There was this itch in my brain, though, that demanded attention. Just a single thought that kept repeating, something different this time, something a little different. I knew what it meant. Not the repetitive grilled pork tenderloin, with herbs and oil, teriyaki, jerk, or any other of our more common recipes. So I started thinkin’, and well, sometimes that works out and sometimes it doesn’t, but I’ve found that it’s generally worth a try, and the good outcomes outnumber the not so good. My mind wandered to the Southwest, and that’s where it stopped. Around spices, like chili powder, cumin, pepper and such. Necessary ingredients to forge some sort of southwest flavor. So that’s what it was to be then, A rub of equal parts (1/2 tsp), onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper (I used a mixture of cracked black and ground white), a good pinch of cayenne, about 1 1/2 tsp each of cumin and smoked paprika, and 4 – 5 tsp of chili powder, depending on your preference. And because it popped into my head, I cleaned 5 or 6 fresh garlic cloves as well. Yes, this is close to being, if not already, a decent rib rub with a taco-ish flair, but without that sugar element, this will provide more of a spice finish than a crusty, barky finish, and that’s okeedokee with this pit jockey, because well, it’s something different.
I’m calling this a chili spiced, garlic stuffed pork tenderloin, and while I’m at it, I’m gonna sauté fresh bell pepper and onion strips, and even grill some corn too. So let’s just go on and get after it!
The pork is coated and rubbed with plain old yellow mustard, with all it’s vinegary goodness, transforming the outside of the tenderloin into a wonderful, sticky canvas to hold the spiced rub. Coat it all over with the mustard, rubbing into the cracks and crevices. Then use the rub mixture you made to cover the mustard, leaving no hint of yellow to be seen. After coating, I put a minimal amount of minced garlic on top, just kind of tossing it on and letting it stick where it hits. But those other garlic cloves? For now, I left them on the plate near the tenderloin, wrapped the whole thing, and left it in the fridge for a couple of hours, at least.
Onions and bell peppers were prepped and readied on a plate, so they can be shoved into a hot cast iron pan later. The corn was hand-rubbed with a dollop of Duke’s Light Mayo, nothing else.
Trusty old Weber was prepped for an indirect cook, with hardwood coals and a chunk of pecan wood banked up on one side of the grill. While the preheating was in full swing, those garlic cloves were embedded in equal distances down the length of the pork tenderloin.
The tenderloin was put on the cooler side, across from the coals, along with the corn. And that’s it, for now.
Close the lid, enjoy the aroma, and fix yourself a little sumthin’ to complete the southwest vibe. Something involving ice, tequila, a splash of water, and a bit of lime basil hit the mark, and refreshing it was!
After twenty minutes or so, I checked on the pork and corn, and moved/rotated them as necessary. This was the time to open that lid and let the coals have their way, increasing the temperature so as to preheat a cast iron pan with a coating of oil.
Now the peppers and onions can start their sizzle, and you can stay attentive to their needs, stirring them around while watching the pork and corn.
Once the tenderloin gets to 150 degrees, it’s time to pull it off the grill. I like to tent with aluminum foil for about 10 minutes, just enough time to finish the corn, onions and peppers. Once finished, spread the sautéed veggies out, making a steamy bed for the pork, and let the eaters eat. In addition to corn on the cob, the pork can be cut, prepared, and used however you choose. It can be sliced thin for sandwiches, cut into strips and put in tortillas, fajita style, or even cut into thicker medallions with onions and peppers strewn on top of the meat.
So, what’s your pleasure?