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Smoked Apple Cider Pork Tenderloin
Apple cider pork tenderloin is a great quick cook on the smoker – brining first keeps the meat moist during it’s smoke bath.
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While most traditional meats for the smoker take at least 6 hours, certain cuts like tri tip and pork tenderloin can be ready to eat in a mere 2-3 hours.
Unlike beef which can be smoked to medium rare, pork does need to be cooked to a minimum safe temperature of 145f (fun fact – it used to be 165f until recently revised by USDA). To make sure you are cooking no longer than you need to, I recommend using an instant read thermometer like this Thermapen. If you’re looking for a slightly cheaper option, the Thermapop is a good starting place. A decent meat thermometer is the most important tool in a meat cooker’s tool kit.
Even with the new lower safe pork temperatures, pork can tend to dry out. A great solution to this is brining – extended immersion in a wet saline solution before cooking. The brine “forces” liquid into the muscle, increasing the moisture levels before the cook. So you’re basically giving yourself a head start. In this case, the brine is apple cider based – a flavor that pairs so very well with pork.
Recipe after the pics:
Apple Cider Brined Smoked Pork Tenderloin
- One pork tenderloin, about 1.5 lb
- 1.5 cups apple cider
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cardamom (optional)
- 2 teaspoons whole peppercorns
- 1-2 tablespoons pork rub
- In a saucepan, combine cider, water, sugar, salt, cardamom and peppercorns. Heat gently until salt and sugar are dissolved. Allow to cool.
- Trim the tenderloin from any large pieces of fat or membrane and place in a large ziptop bag. Pour in the cooled brine, seal the bag then place in the fridge to marinade for 1-2 hours.
- Heat a smoker to run at 250f.
- Remove the tenderloin from the brine, discarding the liquid. Pat dry with paper towels and season on all sides with the pork rub.
- Place the tenderloin into the smoker and cook until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 145f. This will take about 1-1.5 hours.
- When at temperature, remove from smoker, wrap with foil and rest 20 minutes before slicing and serving.
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