I learned this method of preparing pork tenderloin from Mario and have been using it ever since. It has a couple of nice features . . . like any brining, it infuses the meat with moisture and seasons it from the inside out. It also makes the meat more forgiving if you happen to overcook it.
In the case of pork tenderloin, it only requires about 6 hours of forethought, so you can buy the meat in the early afternoon and have it sufficiently cured by dinnertime. You can use this method with a pork loin as well, but a pork loin is much fatter than a tenderloin and may require longer to become infused with the seasoning. You can rub individual pork chops as well, but be careful not to over-brine them (just a few hours).
The rub always begins with sugar and salt. For a single pork tenderloin, I put a teaspoon of salt plus a half-teaspoon of sugar plus a teaspoon of coarsely ground black pepper plus a half-teaspoon of dried rosemary into a shallow baking dish (we used to use fennel seeds at Po but I’m out of fennel tonight). Mix the seasonings by tossing around and stirring with your hands.
Spread the mixture out on the bottom of the dish and roll the meat in the mixture to coat all around. Cover and refrigerate for about 6 hours (not more than 8).
When it’s time to grill, remove the meat from the fridge for a half-hour while you preheat the grill. Wipe the meat with paper towels to remove the residual salt and sugar (although the sugar and salt have melted, if you leave too much residual sugar on the meat it will burn too quickly). Smear a bit of oil on the meat and place on pre-heated grill (in my case, my stovetop charbroiler) for about 4 – 5 minutes per side (16 – 20 minutes total). Internal temperature of the fattest part should be between 135 and 140 degrees for medium rare.
These cooking times are for a tenderloin that is approximatly 1 lb. but times vary within those parameters depending on the thickness of the tenderloin. Let the meat rest for approximately 8 minutes before carving.
As an accompaniment to the tenderloin, I’m making mustard greens with bacon and baked sweet potatoes.