Snow might still be on the ground, but spring is in the air. For many of us, the grill can finally be maneuvered into place, or at the very least, accessed through the piles of snow. Why not start grilling season a bit early with these delectable pork tenderloin filets. The fresh chimichurri sauce goes together in a snap and is best if left to sit and mellow on the counter, at room temperature, while the rest of the dish is prepared. You could even make it a day in advance, but be warned that this delicious sauce might disappear before you can use it. In the test kitchen, it’s eaten on everything from chips to sandwiches, and spooned onto all manner of cooked meats and vegetables. You have been warned.
As you might have noticed, we’ll be grilling this tenderloin fast and hot. Three-minutes-a-side fast. Take heart, it’s all four sides. The bacon wrapped around these tenderloin filets needs some direct heating time to crisp pleasantly. Without direct grilling, the bacon is baked for all intents and purposes. Which, while cooked, is still soft and pliable; this is not a palatable form of bacon for pork belly enthusiasts and indeed gastronomes in general. We want our tenderloin to be between medium-rare and medium: cooked through and warm all the way to the center, but still quite pink on the inside.
Grilling, with its caveman culture, is not a cooking technique that improves with a “Devil may care” attitude. Cooking temperatures are easily double what you find in a conventional oven, and meat in particular can go from indescribably delicious to indescribably detestable in under a minute. A digital time and an inscrutable button-presser are key to perfecting your grilling techniques. If you don’t have the hardware, and are not borderline OCD, seriously consider obtaining the first and conscripting the second.
Like many sauces, mops and toppings, we’ll wait until the meat is almost done before subjecting the chimichurri to the heat of the grill. Added when the pork is turned for its final 3 minute flame-broil, the sauce will heat through, the garlic will very slightly mellow and the entire skewer will be flavored with the subtle smoky essence of the grill. Our patience is rewarded with absolutely no scorched fresh herbage or burned garlic, both of which are aesthetically unappealing and inedible.
We’ve paired these skewers with simple roasted potato wedges, also improved by the chimichurri sauce, but you could easily pair it with a fresh spring salad and vinaigrette or a chunky sweet potato and banana mash. Simply roast your sweet potatoes, peel, then mash lightly with ripe bananas. Delicious! For the pleasure of your dining guests, remove the wooden skewers from the meat before plating.
So dust off that grill, replace the batteries in your timer and release your inner caveman for this delicious dish.
Grilled Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with Chimichurri Sauce
- Whole pork tenderloins, trimmed of fat, tendons and the silverskin, cut into 1½ – 2-inch filets. Each tenderloin should give you 5 filets and feed 2 people.
- Thick cut bacon, one slice per tenderloin filet
For the chimichurri sauce
- 2 cups packed fresh parsley leaves
- 2 tablespoons garlic, smashed
- ½ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- finely ground salt to taste
- ½ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons water
Process the parsley, garlic, pepper, salt and pepper flakes in a food processor for 30 or so pulses until the parsley and garlic are finely minced. Add the water and vinegar to the oil and slowly drizzle the liquid into the work bowl while it’s running. Scrape the sides as necessary using a rubber scraper, and pulse 10 to 15 times until everything is thoroughly combined. Pour into a bowl and set aside on the counter.
Wrap each tenderloin filet in one piece of thick cut bacon. Using two skewers, skewer the tenderloins to secure the bacon. Each skewer should hold 3 filets. Make sure there is space between each filet.
On a very hot grill, place the skewers bacon-side down first. Grill for 3 minutes. Rotate the skewers so the filet side is down and grill for 3 minutes. Rotate to the uncooked bacon side and grill for 3 minutes. Rotate to the final filet side and ladle the chimichurri sauce on top of the skewers. Grill for 3 minutes. Remove the skewers to a platter and allow to rest for a few minutes while you plate your other sides. Remove the skewers and place two tenderloin filets on each plate. Provide additional sauce on the side.