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Monday, February 23, 2009

Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin

Inspired by the bacon explosion I decided to try a bacon weave wrapped around a pair of pork tenderloins tied together. As the saying goes, everything is better with bacon. I also have some pics from a fellow grillin fool who also did a bacon wrapped pork loin a few weeks ago that I had the privilege of sampling...To see pics and the write up of both, check the link below.

Having done the bacon explosion on Super Bowl Sunday and not being all that impressed with it other than the bacon on the outside I decided to try to incorporate the part I liked about the bacon explosion into something better than a sausage fatty wrapped in bacon. A buddy of mine and follower of this site did this a few weeks ago and it was outstanding and he was kind enough to share some pics of his so this is a two for one post.

First off the weather had a lot to do with the end result and even influences the loins that I bought. Usually when you buy a pork tenderloin the bag has two loins, one shorter and fatter and one longer and skinnier. Considering the temp was only supposed to get to about 35 I decided to get two tenderloin packs of similar size so that I could tie the two longer/thinner tenderloins together in order to reduce cooking time. I didn't want to spend 4 hours freezing my butt off tending to the grill so I went with smaller cuts.

Here we have the two bags of tenderloin that I bought. You can see one is 2.02 and the other is 2.05 pounds:o

Here we have all 4 tenderloins on a big cutting board. The bottom ternderloin of each pair is the shorter/thicker of the two:

Here are the two shorter thicker ones together. These two were destined for a marinade bath in a gallon ziplock and then a stay in the freezer for grilling later:

And here are the two that I planned on grilling:

I marinaded both sets of loins. As I mentioned earlier, the shorter/thicker ones went to the freezer. The others to the fridge. The marinade consisted of garlic, John's marinade and flavorizer, black and white pepper and some olive oil. Nothing acidic in this marinade. No need tenderizing the meat anymore than it already is:

The following day I pulled the Tenderloin from the fridge as well as this beauty:

Yes that giant beer has a cork:

Now that a proper beverage is on hand, time to get to the bacon weave. It's not rocket science but it takes a few minutes. Basically a typical pound of bacon has 16 slices. Lay 8 slices side by side and then interweave the other 8 slices perpendicular to the first 8 slices. In the end it should look like this:

Here are my two tenderloins ready to be tied up next to the bacon weave:

Next step is to tie the two tenderloins together. Usually each tenderloin has a fatter end and a skinnier end. Put the fat end of one tenderloin to the skinny end of the other so it is a uniform thickness throughout. To tie them together simply get some cooking twine:

The cooking twine also works wonders in tying tomato branches up to a trellis as you can see with the 'maters I grew last year. Those plants are close to feet tall. Just another reason I can't wait for the weather to warm up:

Here we have the tenderloins tied together. Normally I would add some salt to the meat right now if I were not wrapping it in bacon. Even though I used low sodium bacon it still has plenty of salt:

And here it is wrapped in the bacon weave:

I learned a little trick this last week about using a remote thermometer in a grill. I try to keep the remote thermometer as close to the meat as possible to know what temp it is cooking at. But if the thermometer touches the meat it will report a false temp as the meat will insulate the probe. Solution - stick a cork from a wine bottle onto the end of the probe. Problem solved:

You can see the temp in the picture above. The thermometer is set for beef but that doesn't matter when I'm just checking the temp of the grill and not the meat. The temp shows 73 inside the house.

And here is the bacon wrapped tenderloin on the grill with the thermometer to the side. Coals on one side the meat on the other so the meat cooks indirectly:

And from here on out I had some issues. The temp fluctuated all over the place inside the grill. From 205 to 340. What was supposed to be a cold day but not windy turned out to be a cold and windy day and thus the temperature went all over the place. So in the end I have no idea at what temp I cooked this. I indirected it for about 3 hours and the temp for a lot of that was about 280 but I'm not entirely certain.

Here is the loin an hour into the process:

And here we have about 45 minutes later. You will see that the color of the bacon has not changed much. It was at this point that I found the temp had dropped dramatically:

After I took the pic above I added more charcoal to bring the temp back up. 45 minutes later, and the sun going down, we have the bacon darkening up nicely:

At this point the tenderloin has been on for 2.5 hours. My wife was ready to eat. So I decided to speed the process up a bit and put the loin a little close to the coals:

15 minutes later I turn the loin 180 degrees so it would not burn the bacon on the one side and then pulled it off to rest:

The bacon is lookin good!!!

I let it rest for about 10 minutes and then sliced:

And here we have it plated with some candied carrots and some pasta salad:

Things I would've done to improve the process:
  1. First and foremost I would cook the loin first and not the bacon. What I mean is I was more worried about what the bacon would look like in the resting picture than what the meat would taste like. I like Pork Tenderloin to be pink in the middle. A good medium. Pork does not have to be well done anymore. This was well done. The flavor was great but I don't prefer my tenderloin done this way. So mind the tenderloin and not the bacon. I think if I had pulled it off prior to moving it closer to the heat for that last 30 minutes it would've been perfect.
  2. If I want the tenderloin to be medium and bacon to be done perfectly I should've gone with the thicker tenderloins. Going with the thinner pieces meant less time on the grill but it also meant that the tenderloin was done faster than the bacon. So go with a bigger tenderloins than what I went with. At least 2.5 pounds.
  3. And finally, just because I am sick of winter and really want warm weather to do long grill sessions like this, I shouldn't force it and pick a day where the weather wreaked havoc on my grilling temp.

And now to a bacon wrapped tenderloin done to perfection. Actually it's three bacon wrapped tenderloins. Jason Butler was kind enough to provide the pictures of the process. Having gotten a chance to taste these I will say that they were done to perfection. Here are the tenderloins wrapped in bacon ready for the grill:

Jason went a little slower and lower than I did and with thicker tenderloins. He kept the temp between 200 and 250 for around 4 hours. How good do these look:

At the end he slathered a couple in sweet baby rays. The front left one was slathered with a thinner homemade sauce. Both were excellent:

And as you can see in this money shot, that is a nice shade of pink in the middle. This stuff was so good it was ridiculous.

Props to Jason for the job well done as well as some pics for the site.

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