My wife came up with this recipe for the tenderloins from a wild hog. I first made it on the grill cooking it with indirect heat while wrapped in foil. It was tasty but needed something. Smoke! That was it. Didn't have any more wild hog so I got around 2 lbs of pork tenderloin and waited for Saturday to get here.
Step 1: Ingredients
2 lbs of pork tenderloin*
handfull of pitted fresh or frozen cherries (for marinade)
3-5 sprigs of fresh rosemary
3-5 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil (extra virgin)
salt and pepper (optional)
2 cups of pitted fresh or frozen cherries
1/4-1/2 cup apricot preserves**
1/8 cup apple juice (or other fruit juice)
honey (to taste)
*Venison roast or tenderloin is also wonderfull with this recipe.
**For a little bit sharper taste use fresh apricots instead of the preserves.
Step 2: Step 1
Combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, peeled garlic cloves, rosemary, cherries salt and pepper. This marinade scales easily, just use equal parts of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. If you wish you can slightly press the cherries to allow more juice to seep out.
Marinate the pork tenderloins (or other meat) for about 4 hours in the refrigerator.
Reserve the marinade.
Step 3: Prepare the Smoker
I use an ancient (1996) Brinkman water smoker because that is what I have and never seem to have the money for the smoker I want. (hint to the judges...) Temperature control is the main problem with this smoker. You will want to keep the temp at the top of the smoker at 200 degrees. For me this works out to a full load of charcoal in the chimney starter. Once the charcoal is starting to turn grey on the top of the chimney I will load the charcoal onto the rack above the ash pan. I have found that if I put all of the charcoal in a pile in the ash pan it gets too hot. I try to space the briquettes out evenly on the rack. I then start another load of charcoal in the chimney starter.
I fill the water pan about 1/2 full. You can add more if you wish but mine has a hole in it about 1/2 way up.
Your situation/smoker will most likely be different. Just shoot for 200 degrees.
Step 4: Putting the Meat on the Smoker.
2 lbs of pork tenderloin will easily fit on the top rack of the smoker. The top rack will be slightly hotter than the one right above the water pan. When I made this yesterday I put a venison roast on the bottom rack and the pork on top since the pork needs to reach a higher temp to be considered "done"
Venison 145-150 internal temp and pork 170 internal temp.
Remove the meat from the marinade and carefully arrange on the rack. Place some of the cherries and garlic cloves on each piece of meat and place a sprig of rosemary on each. I don't know if that really does much for the cooking process but it looks good. The smoked garlic tastes great as well.
Cover the smoker.
Using the side door in this smoker I threw in some cherry wood chips onto the coals. I had never used cherry before so I only did about 2 handfulls total over the entire time smoking. I didn't know how much flavor cherry put out so I took it easy. Also, chips don't last long so they may have not had much of an effect. Chunks are best, I often use mesquite and oak and I have not found any advantage in soaking them before putting them into the smoker.
Step 5: Monitor the Temperture
As I mentioned this smoker takes work to keep the temperature constant. Keep an eye on your temp gauge. 200 degrees is where you want to be for this one.
When the second chimney of charcoal is about ready I like to put the lit charcoal into a cinder block. This keeps the coals hot without them burning up too quickly as they would do if you kept them in the chimney starter. If they start to die out in the cinder block just prop up one edge with a rock or something to get some air flow.
I had to add charcoal about hourly to keep the temperature up. Just add 8-10 briquettes at a time. As I mentioned, I threw in some cherry wood chips each time I added charcoal. If you are using chunks of wood this probably wouldn't be necessary.
Step 6: Check the Temperature of the Meat
About 2 hours into the session I took a peek at the meat. It was looking good so at about 2.5 hours I checked the temp of both the pork and the venison. I got readings of about 150 degrees for the pork and about 135 degrees for the venison.
I started checking about every 20 minutes and once the pork reached 170 degrees and the venison reached 145 I removed the meat from the grill.
Remove the meat carefully! Save the garlic and cherries! Wrap the meat, garlic and cherries (the rosemary can be tossed or kept for garnish) in foil and set aside.
Step 7: Sauce
I often eat my barbecue without any type of sauce so I am familiar with the arguments from both sides. That said, this sauce can really add to the enjoyment of the meal.
Finely chop the cherries* in a food processor. Add in the apricot preserves, apple juice and honey. Mix well and adjust quantities of apricots and honey to taste.
Add sauce to a pan and heat over low to medium heat. Add in the reserved marinade making sure to get all the garlic and cherries. Heat it to a slow boil being careful to not burn the sauce.
You may find that when you unwrap the meat that there will be a collection of juices in the foil. This can be added to the sauce if you wish.
When serving the sauce can be served on the meat or on the side.
*If using fresh apricots pit and finely chop them as well.