If ever there were a summer to get creative with making our own fun… it’s Summer 2020.
Even with a quarantine on our hands, we all want to carpe diem and embrace these months that are supposed to feel carefree. And since many of us are opting out of vacations, we’re looking for ways to spice things up at home. Adam and I have been setting aside one night of the weekend as our “at-home date night,” which inevitably means letting the kids eat an early dinner (let’s be real, it might be a bowl of cereal) and settle in with a movie, while we pour ourselves a glass of wine and fire up the grill.
For us, grilling evokes memories of laid-back nights that are all about savoring the moment. Simply smelling that delicious char makes me relax into that slower, breath-easy state — plus the grill always equals the most flavor-packed meals, if you ask me. I learned my grilling skills from the best (ie. Adam), and since many of you have shared in the past that you’re intimidated by the grill, I thought it was the perfect time to encourage everyone to get on the train before summer’s over. We teamed up with the National Pork Board to share a few of our easiest, go-to secrets for grilling success, starring my personal favorite cut to throw on the grill: pork tenderloin.
Consider this your summer grilling cheat sheet…
Marinade v. Rub?
First things first: the way you prep your ingredients before they go on the grill is a major key to flavor-packed success. I usually opt for either a dry rub or a marinade to infuse meat with flavor. Here’s the breakdown:
Dry rubs use a combination of color, sweetener, flavor, heat and salt bases. Rubs are applied to the pork before cooking — anywhere from an hour to a few hours, depending on how much time you have available.
Marinades combine dry spices with liquids. Vinegar, oil and condiments are common ingredients. The pork must sit in this mixture for several hours before grilling to allow the flavor to soak in.
So which one should you choose? The good news is that they’ll both deliver delicious results, so let your creativity be your guide. I’m sharing my go-to recipe for my Honey Citrus Soy Marinade that takes any cut of meat to the next level, and is particularly delicious on this pork tenderloin that is tender, juicy perfection.
Let’s talk cuts.
When the National Pork Board reached out to me about this summertime partnership, I was excited to team up and share some of my favorite ways to use pork on the grill. There are so many options when it comes to cuts of pork, from lean to more indulgent, and I love cooking with them all.
The most familiar cuts of pork for grilling are chops, loin roasts, tenderloin, ribs and shoulder. Italian sausage and ground pork (for lettuce wraps!) are also faves, and I’ve got a favorite happy hour recipe coming soon that involves throwing bacon on the grill (yes please.)
Time and temperature.
The secret to great grilling is all about careful timing and even temperature – it’s the difference between meat that is dry (from overcooking) or succulent and juicy – which is what we want. I usually use an instant-read thermometer when I’m cooking pork to ensure I get the perfect amount of doneness.
For pork tenderloin and pork chops, I shoot for an internal temp of 145 degrees, then I remove the pork from the grill and let it rest for 5 minutes (which cooks it a bit more, and redistributes the juices) before slicing. Here’s a handy guide for foolproof grilling temperatures.
My go-to summer marinade.
This, my friends, is THE summer marinade you’re going to want to put on every cut of meat in your fridge. I’ve got to give the credit to an old family friend of ours who gave my parents a similar recipe years ago and it because an instant family favorite. My dad has gained quite a reputation as master griller, so he may not love the fact that I’m spilling his secret: this marinade. I’ve adapted it a bit to make it my own this summer, adding the orange zest and juice for more sweetness and flavor. The pork tenderloin absorbs the marinade and gets infused with the flavor throughout, and it’s an especially great complement with the sweet grilled carrots. You can let the pork marinate for up to eight hours, but if you’re pressed for time, even one hour of marinating will make a major difference.
*Marinating hack: for optimal flavor-enhancing, I like to take a fork and pierce the pork tenderloin all over to form tiny holes that encourage the marinade to get into every nook and cranny. Scroll to the bottom of this post to get the recipe card for my Honey Citrus Soy Marinade.
This Citrus-Marinated Pork Tenderloin with Carrot Pesto & Grilled Carrots is truly one of my favorite meals of summer. I’m showing y’all how to make it start-to-finish (along with how I set the table for our date night at home!) on my IGTV today, so hop on over there to check it out.
Scroll on for my go-to marinade recipe, and leave a comment / tag me on Instagram if you give it a try! *this post was in paid partnership with the National Pork Board.
dairy-free, nut-free, vegan, vegetarian
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- zest and juice of 1 orange
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Combine all ingredients in a mason jar and shake well. Pour over meat and let marinate for 2 - 8 hours to infuse with flavor.