Seattle Rub Pork Tenderloin




About: Composites engineer, foodie, daddy.

You have old friends coming in for the weekend and you need to feed them. What's better than barbecue? Coffee? Chocolate? Actually, that's a trick question. The real answer is secret option D) All of the above. Join me as I create the unholy fusion of amazing deliciousness that is Seattle Rub Pork Tenderloin (and bring old friends together in the process.)

Step 1: Meat me
Step 2: BBQ rub, divine
Step 3: Chillax
Step 4: Controlled burn
Step 5: Total Victory

Fear not: great barbecue is just around the corner.

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Step 1: Meat Me

Obviously, you're going to need some meat. I picked pork tenderloin for time constraints. It is fairly lean, very tender, and cooks quickly. With reunion plans comes a tight schedule and very little time to tend the smoke. So, pork tenderloin, it is.

I like to trim any extra fat and connective tissue from the outside of the loin. In particular, you want to look for any silvery-looking tissue, since that is particularly chewy. As for the fat, this will take approximately 3 hours to come up to temperature, so there won't be enough time for the fat and such to break down.

Don't worry - this dude will be tender and juicy.

Step 2: BBQ Rub, Divine

If the meat is the foundation, this is the structure. (Landscaping and curb appeal come later...)

We're making a dry rub. So, how do you make a rub with coffee? One parts rub, one parts coffee? Not exactly, but close. Like cooking with wine, you want to use something you would actually drink. (If you rub your tenderloin with instant coffee, you may deserve to be hit by a bus, but I digress...) The beans I used were roasted within a week and ground for espresso - for the average Joe, espresso grind = dust. You are about to eat ground coffee beans, and when you take a bite of juicy, mouth-watering pork, you don't want to crunch on big boulders of bean.

By the way, this is where things start to smell amazing. Here is your secret weapon, i.e. the spectacular Seattle Rub:

4 Tablespoons coffee (espresso grind)
2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon raw sugar
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon chipotle (smoked) chili powder
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2-3 grinds of black pepper

Mix it like you're a DJ. Feel free to up the quantities of salt or sugar to taste.

Step 3: Chillax

Chillax - a hybrid of chill and relax, AKA what the meat does now and what you do next.

Pork tenderloin has it rough, so it deserves a good massage. Give it a liberal coating of the Seattle rub, knead it in, and throw it under foil at room temperature for a couple hours. Then what? I don't know... make some coffee? Take a nap? Go to the movies? Do what you feel. You have time.

Step 4: Controlled Burn, Part A

If you have a shred of ambition and a charcoal grill, you can BBQ like a champ. Don't fear the charcoal. Embrace it with gusto. Just don't actually embrace it, or you might have to go to the hospital.

Now, let's get the coals going. Make sure the bottom of the grill is empty and not clogged with ashes. Open the air vents in the top and bottom of the grill and clean the grate. Fill up your charcoal chimney (easy to find at any hardware store), crumple some news paper in the bottom, and light it.

When flames are licking out the top and the upper coals are starting to turn white around the edges, pour the chimney to one side of your grill up against the wall. If you were doing burgers or something, you could spread them out, but for barbecue, we want them off to the side in one pile.

Step 5: Controlled Burn, Part B

My coals are ready - now what? Two words to remember: Indirect. Heat. We're going for oven-like temperatures and not the low heat and long time required to soften something like a brisket or pork shoulder - Tenderloin just doesn't need it. And remember, you've got hungry friends coming soon.

While you are at it, drop a couple chunks of pecan, cherry, or apple wood onto the coals. They will smolder while it cooks and add a touch of flavor to the meat that you definitely want. You don't want white smoke churning out of the grill. We're looking for thin wisps, at most. You want to smell it but not see it. Why? If you over-smoke this bad boy, it's going to taste like a camp fire. You might like eating a camp fire, but I've got other plans. Balance, champ. We want balance.

As to the "Indirect Heat" bit - slap the meat on the grill opposite your pile of coals. That's it. The heat isn't underneath the meat, constantly searing it. Instead, you have a nice clean fire, a delicious piece of rubbed meat, and the aroma of nut/fruit wood soaking into your dinner. Punch a meat thermometer (hardware store) into the center of the loin and set it for 185. Now, put the lid on and walk away. When the thermometer beeps, smile, because you are about to win the prize.

Remember: until your thermometer says so - hands off! If you are looking, you aren't cooking. In a few hours, you'll be here...

Step 6: Total Victory

Your meat is done, but you aren't. Pull it off, set it on a plate, and cover it with foil. Let it rest! It's going to be about 1/2 an hour until you can cut it. But when you do, you're going to see this...

Step 7: Kick Up Your Feet, Grill Master

Mix up some pea salad and sweet-potato fries. Make some coffee ice cream. Enjoy the food and the conversation.

That's it. That is the way to get people to beg you to move back home. Don't worry - If you ever get tired of hearing "this is the best thing I've ever eaten," you can always take the low road. Just hang your head and plod back to the masses, where gas grilling and hot-dogs reign.

But if you're me, you live in a one bedroom apartment with limited resources, a beautiful wife, a charcoal grill and a deep love for all things food. You have long-lost friends coming into town for the weekend, and a reputation as a foodie and grill-master to uphold.

It's time to make some people happy. Get cooking!

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    29 Discussions


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Actually, 145 deg F is fine for pork loin. This would mean that if you went to 135 and rested for 30 minutes covered , you would come very close. Not to nitpick but that _is_ a pork loin. It is analogous to the striploin from a steer, whereas the tenderloin is analogous to the tenderloin of beef, from whence one would cut a filet mignon.


    9 years ago on Step 7

    I'm trying this today! how many pounds was your tenderloin? Or do you have a recommended lbs / hours suggestion?

    looks awesome btw!

    2 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Step 7

     I don't recall the pounds - it's been a while!  I would recommend shooting for internal temperature.  Several people commented that about 150 is good for a loin.  I did this one higher, as described in the instruct'.  It was nice and juicy, and resembled some lean brisket in texture.


    Reply 9 years ago on Step 7

    totally wicked!!! 2 thumbs and a snap!  lol
    I used 2, 4lb pieces and it took about 4 hours.  Well worth the wait. I used my smoker and had to add a little fuel to the fire here and there but all in all it cam out really well.  Thanks man!


    10 years ago on Introduction

    This recipe ROCKS !!!! It's not for everybody, a very, well, savory flavor, but absolutely worth trying! I might have overdone the rub/crust by applying it to a half-loin roast, I caked it on thickly, but it was terrific. No kiddin' around. Might even be better for beef, will try and let you all know. I'll use a sweeter blend for pork next time to suit my taste, but I urge ALL interested to try it. You won't be sorry. I wish I took pics, it looked great- rubbed roast rested for about 2hrs in fridge, used a totally cheezy grill and it came out gorgeous. I wouldn't hold out for 185 internal temp, though- at a slow roast, 160 or so is fine, the heat will soak through to center, especially if left to sit (recommended) for 20mins or so before slicing. Great instructable, good job. I think it could be said that most ingredient proportions could be adjusted to taste after trying this original recipe as a start-off point. JUST TRY IT.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    You wouldn't get the "touch of smoke" flavor, but it could be done in the oven. I would guess 325 for 3 hours - again, I would check it with a meat thermometer periodically and shoot for 185 internal temperature.

    Agreed, I cooked this with hickory chips and the smokiness of the wood makes a huge difference. Just buy a cheap wal-mart grill or something. As long as you follow the indirect heat method, should be fine.

    I just cooked this and I am eating it right now! lol It's not bad. A bit strong in flavor because of the rub. I think I can agree with the comments below. 185 is way too high. It looks like the author here might have used a lower temperature because of the color of the meat. I made it to 160 and my meat is only slightly pink around the edges. Stil very juicy. Seems to me like the all-spice takes strong in the flavor. Like the coffee flavor enhances the all-spice. It's definitely a very "earthy" flavor on the outside. on the inside it has a very sweet beautiful pork flavor to it. Definitely the side of spicy rasberries in the last slide is a perfect addition to the strong earthy tones in the pork. Great instructable.

    1 reply

    The wood will impart more flavor if it's soaked in water for at least a few hours before putting on the grill. Actually, when it's soaked you can put the wood right next to the coals and it will steam and smoke nicely.

    tsangellBig Black Dog

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    For a steak, I couldn't argue with you. But for chicken or pork, you need it that high to kill the hostile bacteria. Also, if you look around, most BBQ methods will pull off a brisket or pork shoulder at up to 190... Pork isn't something you want under-done.

    Big Black Dogtsangell

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    For a steak, 135 - 140, max. Pork begins to dry out after about 160. I cook tenderloins to 150, and tent in foil for 15 minutes or so. 185 is *way* overcooked for any meat, including poultry).

    Also, I should point out that when you see recipes for BBQ, you're almost always looking at *cheap* cuts of meat. The whole idea of barbecue is to make inedible chunks of meat edible. Brisket has lots of fat and connective tissue, which needs high heat to break it down. A long, slow cooking over a low heat will do that. Tenderloin is a very lean cut of pork. Cooking it to those high temps will dry it out severely, since it has very little fat in it to keep it moist.

    tsangellBig Black Dog

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I've done two of these with this exact rub/method, and both have come out juicy and delicious. I'll do some research and try it with a lower temp for the next one. Thanks for reading.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    is it OK to let the pork sit out at room temp for that long? i always thought pork was sketchy, due to trichinoses (sp?) and all.