Grilling · Main Dish · Overnight Marinade

Jamaican Jerk Pork Tenderloin

Jamaican Jerk Pork Tenderloin

Someone asked me once if I ever get bored with pork tenderloin. I’ll admit, I do use it a lot. A single tenderloin is just the right size for two people and if it’s a large one, there might even be some leftovers for lunch. It’s incredibly versatile, and its leanness makes it a healthier choice than most other cuts of pork. But boring? Not at all, especially when this recipe is in your repertoire. What a riot of flavor! It’s definitely one of those dishes that taste like you’ve been working hard at it all day. Technically, it has taken all day. But your part in it just took a few minutes the night before and a few minutes at the grill. The magic happens in between, while the pork marinates in the fridge. The marinade itself is ridiculously easy if you have a food processor. You just toss everything in and turn it on. You might be a little worried when it comes out of the fridge at grilling time, because it will be the drabbest grey color. Do not be fooled, it tastes amazing!

Neither should you be fooled by the innocent-looking habanero peppers. They’re tiny, they’re cute. They’re also very, very hot! Most of the marinade is discarded, but the meat definitely absorbs some of the peppers’ heat. It won’t burn your mouth, but you’ll definitely feel it. If you’re not usually a fan of spiciness, try using fewer peppers or milder ones such as jalapeños. For those who are new to habaneros, yes, I really did just say, “milder ones such as jalapeños.” Did I mention that habaneros are hot? They measure 150,000-325,000 Scoville units, compared to a mere 2,500-8,000 for jalapeños. 

When calculating nutrition information, I’m always a bit stumped by marinades. I’ve really no idea how to determine what portion of a marinade might be absorbed by the meat, or exactly how much is discarded. Before and after weights aren’t accurate, as the meat inevitably gives up some of its juice into the marinade. So just be aware that I’m doing a little guessing. And, while the recipe serves four, I still consider it “cooking for two” because I cook one and freeze one for later. 

You’ll find a printer-friendly version of the recipe, which I adapted from Cooking Light,  at the bottom of this page. 

Ingredients:

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1 large onion

2 bunches of scallions

4 cloves garlic

fresh ginger, about 2 – 3″ long

1½ Tbsp fresh thyme leaves

¼ cup white wine vinegar

2 Tbsp lower-sodium soy sauce

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1½ Tbsp brown sugar

2 tsp kosher salt

2 tsp ground allspice

½ tsp ground nutmeg (I used fresh)

½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

¼ tsp ground cinnamon

8 habanero peppers

2 pork tenderloins, about 2 – 2½ lbs together

fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)

Preparation:

1.) Chop the onion into large chunks, and place it in the bowl of your food processor. Cut the scallions into ~1″ long pieces, and add them in. Peel the garlic; add it in. Peel the ginger, slice it very thin, and add it as well as the thyme.

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Add the next nine ingredients (vinegar through cinnamon), and process until smooth.

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2.) Remove the seeds and stems from the habaneros. These are very hot, so be careful. If you use your bare hands and then accidentally touch your eye, you will sincerely regret it. I’ll often use tongs to hold the pepper, to be extra certain not to get any Habanero juice on my hands. Add the peppers to the food processor bowl, and process until smooth again. Pour into a 9″ x 13″ baking dish or a large zip-top plastic bag.

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3.) Remove the silvery membranes and any excess fat from the tenderloins. Slice lengthwise down the meat, going through most of its thickness but not all the way through. Spread them open, pressing with your hand to flatten the meat.

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Add them to the baking dish, and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours; 24 hours is even better. I like to make something simple for dinner the night before, so I can prep both dinners at the same time and pop this one in the fridge.

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4.) When ready to cook, preheat your grill. Brush a little olive oil on the grill to prevent sticking. Remove the pork from the marinade, and place the pork on the grill. Don’t be tempted to leave a lot of marinade clinging to the meat.  It will just stick to the grill and scorch. Discard the remaining marinade. (If you’re freezing one piece for another day, put it and all of the remaining marinade into a ziptop freezer bag.)

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Grill about 6 – 7 minutes on each side, or until done (internal temperature measured with a meat thermometer registers 145°F). Allow the meat to rest for several minutes before slicing into ½” pieces. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro (optional).

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Jamaican Jerk Pork Tenderloin


Ingredients


1 large onion
2 bunches of scallions
4 cloves garlic
fresh ginger, about 2 – 3″ long
1½ Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
¼ cup white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp lower-sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1½ Tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp ground allspice
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
8 Habanero peppers
2 pork tenderloins, about 2 – 2½ lbs together

Directions


1.) Chop onion into large chunks, and place in the bowl of your food processor. Cut the scallions into ~1″ long pieces, and add them in. Peel the garlic; add it in. Peel the ginger, slice it very thin, and add it as well as the thyme. Add the next nine ingredients (vinegar through cinnamon), and process until smooth.
2.) Remove the seeds and stems from the Habaneros. These are very hot, so be careful. If you use your bare hands and then accidentally touch your eye, you will sincerely regret it. I’ll often use tongs to hold the pepper, to be extra certain not to get any Habanero juice on my hands. Add the peppers to the food processor bowl, and process until smooth again. Pour into a 9″ x 13″ baking dish or a large zip-top plastic bag.
3.) Remove the silvery membranes and any excess fat from the tenderloins. Slice lengthwise down the meat, going through most of its thickness but not all the way through. Spread them open, pressing with your hand to flatten the meat. Add them to the baking dish, and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours. 24 hours is even better. I like to make something simple for dinner the night before, so I can prep both dinners at the same time and pop this one in the fridge.
4.) When ready to cook, preheat your grill. Brush a little olive oil on the grill to prevent sticking. Remove the pork from the marinade, and place the pork on the grill. Don’t be tempted to leave a lot of marinade clinging to the meat.  It will just stick to the grill and scorch. Discard the remaining marinade. (If you’re freezing one piece for another day, put it and all of the remaining marinade into a ziptop freezer bag.) Grill about 6 – 7 minutes on each side, or until done (internal temperature measured with a meat thermometer registers 145°F. Allow the meat to rest for several minutes before slicing into ½” pieces.

6 thoughts on “Jamaican Jerk Pork Tenderloin

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