Whether in the backyard or at the cabin, there are going to be a lot of grills fired up this Labor Day weekend. And grilling up pork tenderloin can add a festive twist beyond burgers to an unofficial farewell to summer soiree. (“Unofficial” because we know it will still be warm with plenty of time for grilling left, right? Right?) Pork tenderloins tend to come packaged in pairs, which makes the perfect amount for a grill party. Even if you’re serving a smaller group, consider cooking them together because the cold pork can be great the following day. Cookbook authors and grilling experts Cheryl and Bill Jamison, who contributed this recipe to Real Food, note that dry spice rubs mate beautifully with pork tenderloins, particularly rubs that have a hint of sugar to help caramelize and crust the surface over the fire. Serve in thin slices with a drizzle of tangy, nutty sauce.
And, of course, corn on the cob is always a favorite side. If you cook ears of corn on the grill in their husks, as many people do, you simply steam the kernels. By exposing the corn directly to the fire, the kernels shrink up a bit and develop a much deeper flavor, according to the Jamisons. In the recipe that follows, that fired-up taste is enhanced by smoked paprika, which enlivens the traditional butter, bathing each delectable ear. Here’s to (a lingering) summer!
Crusty Pork Tenderloin with Worcestershire-Pecan Butter
1 tbsp. turbinado or brown sugar
1 tbsp. sweet paprika
2 tsp. coarse salt, either kosher or sea salt
1 tsp. ground pepper
1⁄4 tsp. ground cayenne (optional)
2 pork tenderloins, about 14 ounces each
3⁄4 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 stick (8 tbsp.) plus 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut in several chunks
2 tbsp. minced white onion
Pinch of coarse salt
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
Spray vegetable oil
Stir together dry rub ingredients in a small bowl. Massage mixture into tenderloins and let sit, covered, at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes.
Place pecans in a dry skillet and warm over medium heat, stirring once or twice, until lightly toasted and just fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add butter to the skillet and let it melt, then add onion and salt and cook just a bit longer, until the onion turns translucent and limp. Remove from heat and stir in the Worcestershire sauce. Set aside.
Prepare grill for two-level cooking, with both high and medium heat zones.
Spray tenderloins lightly with oil. Arrange them on the grill over high heat, angling thinner ends away from the hottest part of the fire. Grill uncovered for 5 minutes, rolling tenderloins to cook on all sides. Move tenderloins to medium heat, and continue rolling on all sides for even cooking and a fully crusted surface. Cook until internal temperature reaches 155°F, about 10 to 15 minutes (depending on thickness of tenderloins). Remove meat from grill and let it rest for 5 minutes, covered with foil, before carving into thin slices. Fan slices on each plate. Give butter sauce a quick stir (heat again briefly if it has firmed), spoon portions of it over the tenderloin slices, and serve.
Summer Sweet Corn with Smoked Paprika Butter
8 large ears of corn, husks and silks removed
1 stick (8 tbsp.) plus 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1 tbsp. smoked Spanish paprika
1 1⁄2 tsp. coarse salt, either kosher or sea salt
Prepare grill for cooking over medium heat.
Brush corn lightly with 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Stir paprika and 1 teaspoon salt into remaining melted butter and keep it warm at the edge of the grill. Grill corn uncovered, turning on all sides and brushing a couple of times with paprika butter, until corn is tender and a few kernels are browned, about 20 to 22 minutes.
Stack corn on a platter, brush again with butter, sprinkle with remaining salt, and serve immediately.