Fri Jul 25, 2008
A couple months ago I attempted to grill a wet rubbed pork tenderloin with varying success. The heart of the problem was the rub burning away during cooking, and I kindly received a reader suggestion that asked, if it burns on the outside, why not move it to the inside? Made sense to me. So I decided to tackle this predicament with one of my favorite wet rubs, jerk sauce, whose great flavor has been claimed by the intense heat of the grill during my previous forays.
I love heat, and that's one of the main reasons I love Jerk sauce so much. The sauce is based on the fiery scotch bonnet pepper, and I'll take any excuse to cook with this supremely spicy, yet fruity, pepper. The only problem was that all my local groceries were currently out of it. Disappointed, but not despaired, I picked up a bunch of serranos and put them, seeds and all, into the sauce in an attempt to replicate the spiciness of the scotch bonnet.
After starting with the peppers, it was time to add one flavor after another into the rub. The jerk recipe I prefer is heavy on ingredients, and produces a sauce that's equally complex on the palate. Allspice, cilantro, parsley, scallions, onion, garlic, ginger, thyme, marjoram, nutmeg, cinnamon, lime juice, soy sauce, rum, vinegar, brown sugar, salt and pepper all go in to form the sauce. By the end the rub is so deep that its hard to pick out an individual flavor, but by some divine miracle, they all work harmoniously to make a sauce like none other.
To solve the problem of getting the rub inside, I chose a piece of pork that could easily be butterflied, so I could spread the sauce on a large flat piece of meat and then roll it up. The pork loin was the perfect cut for this method, and after a brine, all it took was 2 horizontal cuts to butterfly this baby open to form a large rectangle about 1/2 an inch thick. Then I spread a heavy layer of the jerk sauce evenly over the pork and began rolling.
With the pork rolled, I trussed it closed in order to keep it all together while cooking and to form an uniform cylinder, ensuring the meat would cook evenly. Although I've had problems with the rub burning off and loosing its flavor in the past, I didn't want any of the leftovers to go to waste either, so I took what remained of the rub and covered the entire outside of the loin with it.
Then it was off to the grill with my meat roll. I built a two zone fire and seared this baby until it was perfectly browned all over. Then it sat on the cool side of the grill, covered, until cooked until medium well. This took a while, around 45 minutes, and the wait was agonizing, but well worth it.
What I produced was everything I wanted it to be. As I expected, most of the jerk seasoning on the outside burned off during the searing process, but that didn't matter much because the inside was packed with flavor. The mild pork was the perfect vehicle for the jerk sauce, letting the complexity and spice of the rub be the star of the show.
Cooking Jerk must be in the Jamaicans' blood, because they always seem to get it so right, while I've all too often gotten it wrong, but there were winds of change in this meat roll up. For once, I cooked a piece of meat that had all the intense flavor that I love in jerk foods, leading me to start scheming what will next be rolled up in a piece of meat and grilled...any suggestions?
Pork Loin Rolled with Jerk Sauce
Jerk Sauce recipe from How to Grill by Steven Raichlen
1 3lb pork loin
6 tablespoons kosher salt
4 quarts of cold water
For the rub
6 to 12 Scotch bonnet chiles, stemmed and seeded
2 bunches scallions, trimmed and roughly chopped
1 small onion, roughly chopped
6 cloves of garlic, peeled
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 tablespoon chopped fresh marjoram
2 teaspoons ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons dark run
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Dissolve the salt into the cold water to make the brine. Wash the pork loin and place it in brine, then set in the refrigerator to brine for 8 hours.
While the pork is brining, place all the ingredients for the rub into a bowl of a food processor. Process until finely chopped and thoroughly combined.
Remove the pork loin from the brine and rinse with water. Butterfly the pork loin into a flat rectangle about 1/2 inch thick. Spread the jerk rub all over the opened side of the pork. Roll the pork close and truss with butchers twine to form a even cylinder. Spread reaming rub evenly over the outside of the pork.
Light 2/3 chimney full of charcoal and when the charcoal is all lit and covered in gray ash, pour out and spread all the coals to one side of the charcoal grate, keeping the other side empty.
Grill the pork loin directly of the hot coals, turning 4 times, until evenly browned all over. Move the pork to the cool side of the grill. Cover the grill and continue to cook until an instant read thermometer reads 150 degrees when inserted into the middle of the loin.
Remove the pork from the grill and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Remove the twine and cut into 1/2 inch slices.