Family from the West Coast and Massachusetts were going to be staying with us for a spell and we wanted to serve something tasty without having to spend hours prepping or cooking in the kitchen. Enter Grilled Stuffed Pork Tenderloin from Cook’s Illustrated.
Pork tenderloin has many advantages that make it an ideal candidate for the grill: It’s quick-cooking, extremely tender, and has a uniform shape which allows for even cooking. But this cut is also mild and lean, making it prone to drying out. Stuffing this roast solves these problems by adding flavor and moisture.
Butterflying and pounding the pork in this recipe created a larger surface area for the filling, which we rolled up inside the tenderloin before trussing to prevent leakage. Pulsing bold ingredients in a food processor produced an intense paste that stayed put and didn’t ooze out.
A two-level fire, with the coals spread over half the grill, (or alternatively burners on a gas grill) allowed the pork to cook evenly without drying out. We opted not to coat the pork with a sprinkling of brown sugar on the outside of each tenderloin, but if you do, it will boost browning significantly.
One of the guests had dietary restrictions that prevented eating some of the stuffing ingredients so we also cooked a small tenderloin with just a bit of seasoning on the outside. Wanting leftovers for lunches during the week, we purposely cooked more than necessary—and glad we did, they were delicious as leftovers, and gave us a weeknight off from cooking!
Piquillo Pepper and Manchego Stuffing
(for Grilled Stuffed Pork Tenderloin)
- 1 slice hearty white sandwich bread, torn into 1/2-inch pieces
- ¾ cup piquillo peppers, rinsed and patted dry
- 2 ounces Manchego cheese, shredded (1/2 cup)
- ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- Salt and pepper
Pulse all ingredients except salt and pepper in food processor until coarsely chopped, 5 to 10 pulses; season with salt and pepper to taste.
Grilled Stuffed Pork Tenderloin
- 4 teaspoons packed dark brown sugar (optional)
- 2 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 ¼ teaspoons pepper
- 2 (1 1/4 to 1 1/2-pound) pork tenderloins, trimmed
- 1 recipe stuffing, see above
- 1 cup baby spinach
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Cut each tenderloin in half horizontally, stopping 1/2 inch away from edge so halves remain attached. (If using the brown sugar coating, combine sugar, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper in bowl.)
- Open up tenderloins, cover with plastic wrap, and pound to 1/4-inch thickness. Trim any ragged edges to create rough rectangle about 10 inches by 6 inches. Sprinkle interior of each tenderloin with 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.
- With long side of pork facing you, spread half of stuffing mixture over bottom half of one tenderloin followed by 1/2 cup spinach. Roll away from you into tight cylinder, taking care not to squeeze stuffing out ends.
- Position tenderloin seam side down, evenly space 5 pieces twine underneath, and tie. Repeat with remaining tenderloin(s), stuffing, and spinach.
- FOR A CHARCOAL GRILL: Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over half of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.
- FOR A GAS GRILL: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave primary burner on high and turn off other burner(s).
- Clean and oil cooking grate. Coat pork with oil (if desired, rub entire surface with brown sugar mixture.) Place pork on cooler side of grill, cover, and cook until center of stuffing registers 140 degrees, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating pork once halfway through cooking.
- Transfer pork to carving board, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove twine, slice pork into 1/2-inch-thick slices, and serve.
Layer the slices on a platter and let the guests dig in!