Bacon has been a food trend for the past few years. Who needs a list to tell you bacon is so good? Bacon is one of those foods that transcends top 10 lists and trends. Bacon has the best of all food qualities – smoky, salty, sweet, and heat.
There are a lot of positives about bacon being on top of the food world right now. For one, it used to be that your bacon choices at the grocery store consisted of thick or thin. Now there are more craft style varieties in the supermarket – apple wood smoked bacon, coppa bacon, pepper maple bacon, you name it. Another good thing about the bacon food trend is that it is easier to buy pork bellies, curing salt, and everything you need to home cure and smoke bacon at home.
One of the few bad things about the bacon fad is there are a lot of recipes out there with a sad piece of undercooked bacon wrapped around whatever. This recipe avoids that because I borrow the “high and slow” technique from renowned BBQ chef, Adam Perry Lang. I’ve had the opportunity to interview Chef Lang on a few occasions and we specifically talked about this technique. Instead of a quick sear that will leave dark grill marks on about 20% of the meat’s surface, the frequent turning builds a golden brown crust on most of the surface. As a side benefit, by turning the meat on the side like Lang does, you get your bacon actually cooked through.
Chef uses the technique on beef filet but after I had a really poorly executed bacon wrapped pork tenderloin dish at a Mexican restaurant, I knew that I could do better using the “high and slow” technique with pork. Because this technique starts high up in the grill on a raised rack and then finishes close to the coals, I knew the perfect grill would be one with an adjustable charcoal tray like my Char-Broil Charcoal Grill 780.
This recipe is for the hands on grill master, who likes to be involved with the cooking process. It’s a little extra work but the delicious layers of flavor are worth it.
Yield: 6 filets per tenderloin
Serving Size: 2 per person
1 pork tenderloin, silverskin trimmed
2 tablespoons BBQ rub
3-4 strips of bacon cut in half
For the Bacon Gravy
6 strips of bacon, diced
2 tablespoons reserved bacon grease
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
Kosher salt to taste (about 1 teaspoon)
Black pepper to taste (about 1 teaspoon)
- Preheat your grill to 350°f.
- Slice the pork tenderloin into 1 ½” filets. For the last piece by the tip, cut it twice as long and then partially slice through the middle of that. Then you can fold that piece backwards and it should be about the same size as the other filets.
- Season the filets all over with the BBQ rub.
- Wrap each filet with one half strip of bacon and secure the bacon with toothpicks or kitchen twine.
- Make the bacon gravy. Crisp the bacon strips in a skillet over medium heat and remove, reserving 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat.
- Whisk the flour into the grease until thoroughly mixed together. Then pour in the milk in small batches (1/4 cup), whisking continuously. It will solidify at first, just keep adding and whisking until you get a smooth gravy consistency.
- Stir the crisped bacon back into the gravy and then taste for seasoning which will vary depending on the bacon that you used. A half teaspoon each of salt and pepper is a great starting place.
- Place your pork tenderloin filets on the upper rack if you are using a grill with two fixed levels or if you are using a grill with an adjustable charcoal tray, adjust the tray to a lower position. Grill the filets for 2 minutes on one flat side. Flip and cook another 2 minutes on the other flat side.
- Now cook the filets on all of their sides (imagine the round edges as 4 sides plus the two flat sides) 1 minute per side. Keep moving them, rotating through the sides, every minute until the filets hit an internal temperature of 125°f. This will be about a total of 15 minutes from the time they first go on the grill.
- Move the filets to the lower rack (for grills with fixed grate positions) or raise the charcoal tray to its highest position. Grill the filets 2-3 minutes on each of the flat sides and you should be done with the filets at an internal temperature of 145°f.
- Serve by ladling some of the bacon gravy on a plate and topping with 2 of the filets for each portion.