Archive for October 23rd, 2011

The most tender meat on any animal comes from muscles that are rarely used. On four-legged animals, the least-used muscles run along the middle of the back and the inside of the rib cage. The muscles close to the rib cage yield the lean and aptly named tenderloin cut. While whole beef tenderloin is a rather large cut (about 5 pounds), whole pork tenderloins weigh less than a pound because they come from smaller animals. For this and other reasons, pork tenderloin has become extremely popular. Like boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pork tenderloins are easy to prepare, cook quickly, and marry well with a variety of flavors. They’re especially good grilled. Here, we give the pork tenderloin moisture and flavor by soaking it in a brine of tequila, lime, cumin, and cilantro. A simple stew of hominy and chipotle salsa rounds out the textures and flavors.

Prep: 10 minutes (plus 10 minutes for brine and rub)
Brine: 2 to 3 hours
Rest before grilling: 1 hour
Grill: 16 to 20 minutes.

– Long-handled tongs.

Gas: Direct heat, high (500°F)
Clean, oiled grate on lowest setting
Direct heat, red hot
12-by-12-inch charcoal bed (about 3 dozen coals) with high- and low-heat areas
Clean, oiled grate on lowest setting
Direct heat, red hot
12-by-12-inch bed with a 4-inch-deep area for
high heat and a 2-inch-deep area for low heat
Clean, oiled grate set 2 inches above the fire.

For the pork:
1½ cups Tequila Brine (a variation of Cumin, Coriander, and Lime Brine)
2 pork tenderloins, 12 to 16 ounces each (see Tips)
½ cup Fragrant Chile Rub
Oil for coating grill grate
For the hominy:
1 can (19 ounces) hominy, rinsed and drained
½ cup chicken or vegetable broth
½ cup chipotle salsa
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro.

1. For the pork: Put the brine in a 2-gallon zipper-lock bag. Add the tenderloins, press out the air, seal, and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.
2. Remove the tenderloins from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Rub the tenderloins all over with the chile rub. Cover loosely with foil and let the meat rest for about 1 hour at room temperature.
3. Heat the grill as directed.
4. Brush the grill grate and coat it with oil. Grill the tenderloins until browned all over, about 2 minutes on each of the 4 sides. Reduce the heat under the chops to medium-low (on a gas grill) or move the tenderloins to the low-heat area (on a charcoal or wood grill), cover, and grill until the meat is just firm when poked and an instant-read thermometer registers 145°F, another 2 to 3 minutes on each of the 4 sides. Transfer to  platter, cover loosely with foil, and let rest for 5 minutes.
5. For the hominy: While the tenderloins cook and rest, combine the hominy, broth, and salsa in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook until heated through, about 5 minutes.
6. Slice each tenderloin into 6 thick slices. Serve 3 slices per person, with some of the hominy and a sprinkling of chopped cilantro.

– For smoky-tasting tenderloins, soak 1 cup of hickory or oak wood chips in water for 20 to 30 minutes. Add the soaked chips to the high-heat area of the grill until they begin to smolder. Grill the tenderloins as directed, covering the grill to trap the smoke.

– Pork tenderloin is covered with a thin, shiny membrane called silver skin. If left on, the silver skin can cause the tender-loin to curl up during cooking. Remove the silver skin by grabbing it at the thick end of the meat and separating it from the meat with a small knife.
– If you don’t have chipotle salsa, combine ½ cup salsa with ½ to 1 teaspoon ground chipotle powder or 1 to 2 teaspoons adobo sauce from canned chipotles en adobo.
– Hominy is whole, dried white or yellow corn kernels that have been treated with an alkali, such as lye, to remove the hull. They have a firm texture and a slightly sweet, earthy taste that’s featured prominently in the Mexican stew known as posole. Sometimes whole hominy is labeled posole because it is used so often to make the stew and to differentiate whole hominy from hominy grits, which is hominy that has been ground coarse, medium, or fine.

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