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Smoky, well-seasoned grilled pork tenderloin is delightful served with rice noodles, carrots, garlicky spinach and spicy quick pickles. This is a dish perfect for savoring after a long day.
Maine is nicknamed Vacationland for its picturesque summer months, when millions of tourists flood the state to enjoy our national park, vistas, trails and craggy coastline.
But for those of us who live here year-round, summer is our reward. It’s the sweet spot of the year where the days are long, the sunlight is bright and the outdoors beckon with thriving plants, stunning blooms and so many possibilities for recreation and enjoyment.
We’re just hitting the stride of the season and I — for one — am so excited for all the fun this summer will bring. Including grilling and enjoying our backyard.
When I decided to buy an inexpensive charcoal grill recently, my kids started imagining all the foods we could make on it.
It’s been five years since we last had a grill. A combination of rental regulations, moving and space limitations kept me from having one for the first few years.
Then deciding between gas and charcoal was tough too. I ultimately do want a gas grill for its ease, but I appreciate the flavor of charcoal — and it was more budget friendly to purchase a cheap charcoal grill now and the expensive gas grill I want later than to buy a not-so-cheap but also cheap gas grill now and have to replace it in a few years.
So charcoal it is.
Now that we have a grill, we’re thrilled to break it out for cooking as much as possible — including in some new ways. Did you know that pork tenderloin can be grilled? It takes a while but is worth it for the flavor it imparts and the fact that doing so doesn’t heat the kitchen up. This Smithfield Golden Rotisserie Flavor Tenderloin was delightful grilled.
Of course, cooking it on a charcoal grill is an exercise in patience.
If you’ve ever cooked with charcoal, you know that part of the process is preparing the briquettes. That involves lighting them, letting the fire burn down and then cooking. All in all, it takes about 30 minutes plus cooking time.
Once the grill is prepared for cooking, the pork goes on. It takes 30-40 minutes to cook, so make sure you plan ahead and make use of the hands-off cooking time. While the pork is cooking, there are several other parts of this recipe you can complete such as preparing the quick pickles, slicing the carrots and making the rice noodles.
After the pork has been cooked, let it rest for about 10 minutes before slicing.
Then it’s time to assemble the bowls. Your pork should be sliced, your spinach sauteed with garlic, your pickles pickled and your raw carrots julienned.
What a lovely bowl it is.
Pork is so versatile
I purchased this pork at our local Walmart, which has a big selection of pork products. Walmart is a great go-to for fresh pork. I purchased Smithfield for this recipe, but there are many brands to choose from. Plus, There is so much variety in cuts available and so many things you can do with it.
Fresh pork, which comes as bone-in and boneless chops, loin, ribs, tenderloin, ground and more, can be used in so many ways. For instance, bone-in pork chops make a lovely pork chops saltimbocca. Ribs can be enjoyed in quinoa bowls or other grain bowls. You can also make dumplings, wontons, tacos, mashed potato bowls, pasta dishes and more.
I especially love grilling pork — and there are so many great ways to serve it when you do. Smothered pork chops, anyone?
Did you know that pork can be enjoyed medium rare, medium, medium well or well done? According to the National Pork Board, it’s best enjoyed when cooked to 145 degrees Fahrenheit and allowed to rest for 3 minutes (that’s medium rare).
The best way to tell if your pork is done is to use a meat thermometer to take the internal temperature to ensure it’s done to your preferred doneness.
- Medium Rare: 145-150℉
- Medium: 150-155℉
- Medium Well: 155-160℉
- Well: 160℉
How do you like to enjoy pork?
Grilled Pork Bowl, Anyone?
What I love about serving bowls like this is that they encourage us to up the ante on how many veggies we consume. I almost always top mine with at least three. But you could add even more — some sprouts would be delightful on this. Or what about thinly sliced bell peppers?
You could also stretch the pork to feed additional people by slightly reducing how much is on the bowl and adding a poached egg for a second protein.
Ready to dig in?
- 1 Smithfield pork
- 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced cucumbers (use a mandoline for best results)
- 2 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp water
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 4 cups fresh spinach
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 oz rice noodles, cooked according to package directions
- 1 cup julienne cut carrots
- Grill the pork according to package directions. This will take about 40 minutes.
- While the work is grilling, prepare the quick pickles. In a bowl, stir together the cucumbers, rice vinegar, water, sugar, salt and crushed red pepper. Let sit for at least 20 minutes before enjoying.
- When the pork is nearly done, heat the olive oil in a large skillet set over medium heat. Add the spinach and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until beginning to wilt. Add the garlic and stir well. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes until the garlic is fragrant. Remove from heat.
- Once the pork is cooked and has rested for 3 minutes, slice into 1/4-inch thick slices.
- Now, prepare the bowls. Divide the rice noodles evenly among four bowls. Arrange 1/4 of the pork alongside the noodles. Arrange 1/4 of the spinach alongside the noodles. Top with the raw carrots and the pickled cucumbers.
The pork pictured is Smithfield Slow Roasted Golden Rotisserie Flavor Pork Tenderloin. However, any pork tenderloin or will do. There's a Smithfield Applewood Bacon Pork Loin Filet that would be excellent in this dish.