Garlic-Lime Grilled Pork Tenderloin Steaks

March 31, 2014

With beef prices up 80% (chuck roast) over the last few years, my family has been eating a lot more alternatives. So I was excited to try this new recipe (May/June 2014), even though it is still too early for grilling. The recipe uses 2 pork tenderloins (ubiquitously sold in packages of two) to create 4 steaks. The steaks are then pounded flat, soaked in a marinade and grilled for about 15 minutes. Half the marinade is used as the base for a delicious sauce. The sauce is perfect; very bright, flavorful and balanced. My execution of the grilling portion of the recipe was slightly flawed (as I will describe below). But even with my shortcomings, the results were amazing. A perfect 5-star recipe. This is the top 2014 recipe (so far).

Grilled pork with a perfect sauce

Grilled pork with a perfect sauce

Issues / Comment:

  1. The instructions to cut tenderloins crosswise weren’t completely clear to me. I almost cut them lengthwise, but that didn’t make sense to me. The idea is to cut the tenderloins so that they are half the total length. You want short, fat steaks, not long skinny ones.
  2. As I mentioned above, I had a few grilling issues. First, it was raining heavily as I headed out to my grill. So instead of grilling uncovered in Step 6, I grill with the steaks covered (so I didn’t need to move to the cooler side of the grill). Second, I had run out of briquettes and had to use only lump charcoal. Because lump charcoal burns hotter it should not have been a problem, but I allowed it too much time to ignite and lost some of it’s charring power. Instead of attaining the desired 140-degrees, I ended up with 155-degrees. But still, these were minor blemishes which were completely covered up by the strength of the sauce. I cannot emphasize enough how perfectly conceived is this sauce.
  3. My supermarket sells 10 different flavors of enhanced pork tenderloins for $9, which I have never cooked and never will. In contrast they stock very few un-enhanced pork. My guess is that it has to do with profit-margins.
  4. If you are using a gas grill, Chris Kimball says to turn all burners to high heat, cover, and pre-heat for 15 minutes. When cooking leave only the primary burner on.

Rating: 5 stars.
Cost: $13
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess?  Low/Medium.
Start time 4:15 PM. Ready at 6:00 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. My descriptions of how I prepare the meal today are given below:

2 (1-pound) pork tenderloins, trimmed
2 limes; zested and squeezed
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons fish sauce
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 teaspoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
Flake sea salt (or Kosher Salt)

  1. Trim tenderloins and remove silver-skin. Use sharp knife to cut both tenderloins in half crosswise which will create 4 individual, half-length steaks. Use a meat pounded to flatten each half to 3/4″ thickness. Cut 1/8”-deep slits spaced 1/2″ apart in crosshatch pattern on both sides of all the steaks.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together lime zest and juice from 2 limes (1 tablespoon grated lime zest plus 1/4 cup juice), 4 garlic cloves garlic, 4 teaspoons honey, 2 teaspoons fish sauce, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper together. While whisking, slowly drizzle 1/2 cup vegetable oil into lime mixture until it slightly thickens and becomes smooth.
  3. Measure out 1/2 cup lime mixture into small, microwavable bowl, and whisk in 4 teaspoons mayonnaise; set aside sauce.
  4. Add steaks to the large bowl with remaining marinade and toss thoroughly to coat. Empty steaks and marinade into large, gallon-sized zip-lock bag. Press out as much air as possible, then seal the bag. Let steaks stand at room temperature for 45 minutes.
  5. For your charcoal grill, fully open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). After about 20 minutes when top coals become partly covered with ash, empty evenly over half of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill, and completely open top vent. Allow grill to pre-heat for 5 minutes, then clean and oil cooking grate. (especially important as this was my grills first use in 2014)
  6. Remove steaks from bag, but do NOT pat dry. Cook, uncovered, over hot-side of grill for 3 to 4 minutes until becomes well-browned. Flip and cook continue cooking the second side for another 3 to 4 minutes until becomes well-browned. Move steaks to the cooler side of the grill, arranging so that the wider end of each steak facing hotter part of grill. Cover grill and cook for 3 to 8 minutes longer (remove steaks as their internal temperature reaches 140 degrees).
  7. Allow steaks to rest on a carving for 5 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile microwave sauce for 15 to 30 seconds until warm, and stir in chopped cilantro.
  9. Slice steaks against grain into 1/2″ thick slices. Drizzle with half the sauce, and sprinkle with sea salt. Passing the remaining sauce separately.
First BBQ of the season

First BBQ of the season

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