Hardcore grillers will tell you any kind of weather is grillin' weather. I've seen my neighbor out firing up some flame in near zero temps. I'm not that brave. Leaving alone for a moment what it may imply about climate change, its April 1st. It's 62 outside. We will be grilling. This is not normal for April 1st.
Here's the punchline...
We're going with Pork Tenderloin on the grill and because we need some green healthiness we're going to fire up some Asparagus, as well.
Lemon-Miso Grilled Asparagus
1 bunch asparagus
1/4 cup white miso
1/2 cup mirin rice wine
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Pinch lemon zest
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
This is a crazy easy recipe. Mix all the ingredients not called "asparagus" in a bowl. Set it aside. When it comes time to grill, you want it on medium heat. Brush the asparagus lightly with this mix and put it on the grill. 2-3 minutes in, give it a gentle turn, brush it again, let it go another 2-3 minutes. You're done.
Sometimes I use sugar in this, sometimes I don't. Today I didn't. Thought it might get in the way of the hoisin sauce that accompanies the pork and I think I called it right.
Hoisin Glazed Grilled Pork Tenderloin
2 (12- to 16-ounce) pork tenderloins, trimmed
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup apricot preserves
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup dry sherry
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon five-spice powder
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 lemon, zested
1 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon molasses
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
This recipe comes from America's Test Kitchen. I've made really minor alterations to it. You can find the original here.
Make the marinade. Put the soy, apricot preserves, hoisin, sherry, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, five spice, cayenne, lemon zest and pepper in a bowl and stir it well. You'll want to give it a good enough go that you break up the preserves and they meld into the sauce. Pour off 3/4 of a cup and set aside. You'll use this to make the sauce.
Grab your tenderloins and trim them up. I see a lot of people get the fever at this point and eliminate every little piece of fat they can find. Easy, cowboy. Fat is your friend. Fat adds flavor and moisture. You just want to thin out any big globs of it and, if there's any of the silver skin still on the meat, get rid of all that. Once you've trimmed, cut lengthwise, without cutting all the way through, and open up the tenderloin like a book. You want it to be 3/4 inch(ish - it ain't science, just get close) thick. If needed, cover it with some plastic wrap and pound it out to get it to the desired thickness. Lightly salt it. This is the only time in my life that I will tell you to lightly salt a piece of pork. There's plenty of saltiness happening with the soy in the pork marinade and the miso that goes on the asparagus. So even though pork LOVES salt, we're going really easy with this.
Place the tenderloins into a gallon (or larger if you have it) freezer bag and dump the marinade in. Toss to coat, get all the air out, seal it up and throw it in the fridge. I think it tastes best if you can give it a couple hours but it works just fine after 30 minutes. Seems like if you go more than 4 hours the meat gets over saturated and starts to break down. Which is weird, just 'cause nothing I see in this marinade should cause that. But...whatever...don't go more than four hours and if you know a scientist maybe he or she can tell you why it gets weird beyond that point.
Get a soup pot going over medium heat and pour the reserved marinade in. Add the ketchup and molasses. Give it a stir and let it come to a boil. You'll want to give it a stir every minute or so. If you don't, the molasses is liable to burn and stick. Interestingly enough, it still tastes pretty good if this happens but it can add a slight bitter undertone. After about 5 minutes it should be reduced enough. Pour 1/4 cup into a small bowl (you'll use this to glaze while you're grilling) and the rest into a bowl to use for drizzling on the final product.
When the meat has marinated to your liking, take it out of the fridge, remove from the freezer bag, pat it down gently to gather up excess moisture and set it aside. If you have Sous Chef Caya, set it aside somewhere really, really tall that she can't get to. Because, it turns out, a motivated little dog can jump rather high. But that's a different story.
Fire up the grill on high heat, cover, and let it go for about 15 minutes so it gets good and hot. When ready, lower the heat to medium-high, brush the grates down and oil them. Just so's I don't carry any unwanted legal liability from someone who does something dumb...To oil the grill grates, get a hunk of paper towels, dip them in some oil, roll them up and grab them with a pair of tongs. Rub the wad of paper towels over the grates until oiled. The tongs are kinda the key element. If you've overloaded the paper towels with oil, the tongs keep your hands safely out of the way if there's a flare up.
Put the meat on the grill, cover, and let it ride for 2-3 minutes and then flip 'em over. Brush the glaze on, cover, and repeat. You'll probably need about a total of ten minutes of cooking time, flipping and reapplying the glaze every 2-3 minutes. When done to your liking (140-150 degree internal temp), tend with foil and let rest for five minutes. Which is perfect. Because we still gotta grill up the asparagus. Follow the directions above for the actual cooking of the asparagus.
When the greens are done, plate them up. Uncover the pork, slice on the bias. Plate up as much as you want and drizzle with the reserved sauce. Garnish with cilantro and serve.
The lemon miso asparagus is delicious and works well with the pork although, truthfully, you could just hit it with some oil, salt and pepper, grill it up, and hit it with the hoisin sauce and it'd be fine. As it was, I liked the way the lemon miso mix worked with and complemented the hoisin.
The pork is a revelation. The changes I made here was went a little heavier on the garlic, added the cayenne and added the lemon zest. The garlic...hell, I just like garlic. No other reason. Looking at the recipe I thought, yeah, the ginger and the five spice give this a bit of zing but it just looked like it'd be an overly umami sauce. I wanted to punch some heat through it and give it a bit of lemon to brighten it. It worked. The amounts of the lemon and cayenne in here don't make it super bright or hot. Just balances it nicely. It's more of a "you notice them when they're gone" kinda thing. It's a delicious dish and one that I think will become a staple around my house.