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!
Runner Up in the
Low & Slow BBQ Contest