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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bacon-Wrapped Smoked Pork Tenderloin plus a Pineapple Chipotle BBQ Sauce

Spring is here and that means one thing to me:  like cutting grass, my smoker will be running every day I have off until it gets too cold to use it again and even then, we may use it for special occasions like a leg of lamb for Christmas or a turkey for Thanksgiving.  Smoking is something that everyone can do and I suggest that if you don't have a smoker, go out and buy one!  I can say this, I have never messed up a piece of meat on the smoker, and even if I did, I didn't know it because the smacking of lips from those who were eating whatever was cooked was too deafening.  My favorite is brisket.  I LOVE cooking brisket on the smoker because when you cut into it, it relays that perfect smoke ring and I always make mine salty.  There's something about a freshly smoked brisket sandwich with homemade barbecue sauce.  But this weekend, I went with the old standby but updated it slightly.  My family has been cooking bacon wrapped pork tenderloins for.... I don't know really know.  It was just one of those things that appeared one day and I don't really remember life before it.  If I had to draw a time line, instead of BC and AD, it would be B.B.W.P and A.B.W.P (before bacon wrapped pork and after bacon wrapped pork).

The logistics of this are amazing if you really think about it.  Pork on pork love baby!  The slow cooking in the smoker makes the meat tender to begin with.  But then you add the fact that it's wrapped in bacon and all the fat from the bacon 1) soaks into the tenderloin and 2) drips on to the coals creating a different dynamic with the smoking process, call it "bacon smoke" if you will.  I have used the cheapest bacon I could find, the thinnest cut you could imagine, and the bacon almost fuses with the tenderloin.  Really cool stuff.  Most of the time I use a dry rub that I get from a BBQ joint in the town I grew up in, wrap it up, set it, and forget it.  This time I wanted to try something a little different though.

Marinating always makes meat better, no matter what cut or how long or what type.  The flavors soak into the meat and change the flavor, also tenderizing in most cases.  This time, I used a pineapple marinade because if it's good enough for a Hawaiian pizza, it's good enough for me.

Here's the marinade I used:
1 can diced or crushed pineapple
2 tablespoons of cilantro
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
a pinch of salt and pepper
a dash of liquid smoke

Run all of these ingredients through a food processor until you don't have any chunks of pineapple left.  Pour in a Ziploc bag or put it in a dish (like above) and let your pork sit.  We had a long day and I was running out of time so I only let this sit for about an hour.  I suggest about 4 hours.  I wouldn't leave it overnight because the acidity in the pineapple may begin to "cook" the pork, but that might just be my misconception.   When it's done marinating, pull it out and scrape off the excess.  Then comes the fun part:  wrapping!  Before wrapping, I seasoned the tenderloin with more salt, pepper, garlic powder, and bit of that dry rub I spoke of before.  

When you're wrapping the tenderloin, lay out a bunch of toothpicks before hand, non-colored mind you. (If you use colored toothpicks, the dye bleeds into the meat, not changing the flavor, but making weird little colored lines throughout the meat!)  Start at one end, securing the bacon with toothpick numero uno.  What you want to do is work your way around the tenderloin.  Once one piece of bacon runs out, get another, overlap a little, secure with another toothpick and keep going.  This is the most time extensive part.  After the first piece or two, it becomes like second nature and you can run through it in about 10 minutes.  Make sure to leave enough of the toothpick sticking out so you can remove it once the cooking is over.  Believe me, nothing is worse that having this beautiful cut of meat, slicing through a toothpick, and ruining the whole thing (just kidding, it's just really annoying to find a toothpick when slicing).

All that's left now is to smoke this thing!  I prefer to use natural wood charcoal, just because it seems to burn longer that your regular briquettes.  It looks like black pieces of wood (go figure).  As far as the wood, it depends on your taste really.  If you want something strong, go with a mesquite or hickory wood.  Want something more subtle?  Go with an apple or cherry wood.  I usually just keep a bag of hickory chucks in the freezer.  Freezer you ask?  Keeping the wood in the freezer allows for the wood to hold it's moisture and not burn out in 10 minutes once put on the fire.  When lighting the fire in the smoker, put a handful of chunks in water to let them soak up.  I've even heard of soaking them in vinegar but have never personally tried it.  I'm not going into the logistics of smoking but if you have any questions, shoot me an e-mail or post them to the page.

After two hours at 275 to 300 degrees, it's time to pull it off.  The beauty!  The grandeur!!  What you must remember and what you must always remember with any cut of meat when smoking is no matter how tempting, no matter how bad you want to, LET THE MEAT REST!!  This is crucial!  Why would you go through cooking something for 2 to 24 hours (!!!) just to cut right into it and have all that juice run out and be lost forever?  You won't so don't.  I let it rest for 20 minutes or so on the cutting board covered with a piece of tin foil.  After it's rested, pull out the toothpicks and slice it to the desired thickness.

It's really a delicious meal no matter how you do it.  The pineapple marinade added a back end sweetness to the pork that wasn't there before.  It was great, one of the best I've done.  Maybe it's because it's been going on six months since I've done one.  The pineapple chipotle barbeque sauce just added that much more to it.  The following is the recipe.

Pineapple Chipotle Barbeque Sauce

1 can diced or crushed pineapple with juice
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup of ketchup
2 tablespoons of mustard (any kind)
1 teaspoon of diced garlic
1 tablespoon of chipotle powder
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon of dried cilatro and basil, run through mortar and pestil (see Lamb blog for info)
salt and pepper to taste

-Run pineapple through food processor until no big chunks remain.
-Add pineapple with juice, vinegar, and diced garlic to medium pot.  Bring to a boil then reduce to a -simmer for 30 minutes.
-After simmering, pour mixture through a strainer to remove garlic and pineapple pieces.
-Return pineapple/vinegar mixture to pot and add all other ingredients.  Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes.
-After cooking, run sauce through a cheesecloth or any other fine strainer to remove the leftover bits of pineapple and pepper.

    And that's it!  It's a great sauce.  Put it in one of those squirt bottles that you can get from anywhere (the yellow and red two pack thing).  It was pretty mild the night of but as it sits in the fridge, it gets a little spicier every day which is kind of cool.  You don't have to have a smoker to do this dish though.  You can put it one a charcoal or propane grill and slow cook it the same way but again, I urge everyone to get a smoker.  And you don't have to drop a thousand bucks on the Big Green Egg if it's your first outing.  My wife won our first smoker in a raffle at work.  It was a $30 Brinkman dome smoker.  Last season I stepped up to the safe smoker because it was really hard to smoke a 12 pound turkey in the dome smoker.  One day I will have my own pit in my backyard but not until I get to where I am going.  And if you've never had a bacon wrapped smoked tenderloin, what are you waiting for?  In a couple of hours, you'll be in piggy heaven I promise.


    Danger said...

    This looks awesome I'll have to try it next! I have a bunch of yellowfin I was thinking of bacon-wrapping and smoking. Does the bacon crisp up well in the smoker?

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