Pork tenderloin was one of those gateway meats that brought me back to the dark side –or rather, eased my transition from being a pseudo-vegetarian to a smoked-meat-loving carnivore. Once I got past the constant visions of Babe, the talking pig, I learned how delicious the protein could be, if cooked correctly.
Shortly after we started getting serious about smoked foods, we won our first food competition because of this pork tenderloin recipe. So cool!
What I’ve learned is simple: Smoked pork tenderloin, seasoned lightly and smoked slowly, is da bomb.
Throw in some fresh seasonal blackberries and make an indulgent blackberry bourbon sauce out of it to drizzle over the tenderloin…. Well, I’m just not really sure how to top that.
If you haven’t smoked berries you’re missing out.
Smoking any kind of berry (strawberries, cherries, you name it), softens them and brings out deep concentrated sweetness of the berries, and adds a fascinating smoky element. We wanted to add something dark and rich to contrast the sweet fresh berries, so we cooked them with a little bit of bourbon. We also wanted to add just a little bit of liquid to the berries so that they didn’t dry out. Bourbon did the trick!
You could certainly taste the bourbon once the berries were done smoking (even though it was mild), so if bourbon ain’t your thang (what?!) then feel free to sub red wine, or if you didn’t want any booze at all (and if that’s the case why are you reading my blog?), then try a few tablespoons of apple juice or orange juice (just know that juice will accentuate the sweetness of the berries).
Just smoke up about a pint of the berries in a glass dish mixed with a tablespoon of sugar, a touch of salt, and ¼ cup of bourbon, along side your pork. After about 1 ½ hours transfer the berries and juices to a small saucepan and mix with some other goodies (below), until the berries start to break down and it turns into a rich thick sauce. Drizzle over your smoked pork tenderloin. Ohhh yeah!
- 1 pork tenderloin, about 1 lb
- 1-2 tablespoons Dijon Mustard, for coating
- 2 tablespoons basic dry rub, or your favorite pork rub
- 1 pint of blackberries
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup bourbon
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons shallots
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
- ½ teaspoon sugar (optional)
- Set smoker between 225-250 degrees.
- Coat the pork tenderloin with a layer of Dijon mustard (just to coat and allow the dry rub to adhere).
- Sprinkle the dry rub around the entire pork tenderloin.
- Place on smoker for roughly 90 minutes or the internal temperature reads 140 degrees.
- Remove and wrap with foil, let sit for 20 minutes.
- Slice and drizzle the blackberry bourbon sauce over the top.
- Set smoker between 225-250 degrees.
- Rinse the berries and place them in a glass baking dish (8x8 works well for this). Toss with 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ cup bourbon.
- Place on smoker and cook for 1 ½ hours.
- In a small saucepan add the extra virgin olive oil and shallots. Let them soften (about 3-5 minutes). Add balsamic and bring to a boil (about 1 minute). Add the smoked berries with bourbon juices. Add the rosemary. Let them cook together about 5 minutes, stirring often.
- Press down with a fork or potato masher to break up the berries and turn into a chunky sauce. Taste and adjust flavors. If not sweet enough add an additional ½ teaspoon of sugar at a time.
- Remove and drizzle over the smoked pork tenderloin.
I love love love pork and Pinot Noir, no matter how the pork is cooked. And here in Oregon the most recent vintages have been a bit warm, creating Pinots that tend to be on the fruitier and sometimes richer side. These are perfect for this dish. Look for those from the 2013 vintage if you can. 2012 works fine too, but the 13’s tend to be a bit fruitier in general.
We tried it with a few different Pinot Noirs, and it went excellent with Raptor Ridge Winery 2012 Estate Pinot Noir, Chehalem Mountains ($45). The wine had good fruit with a lot of substance. It had some rich cherry and black berry flavor and some concentrated pomegranate that really went well with the sauce, and some baking spice and smoky notes that melded well with the pork. Spot on.
But if you can’t find this wine just find your favorite Pinot from 2013 or a fuller bodied 2012. You won’t be sorry.
Want more smoked berry recipes?
- Try these Smoked Strawberry Shortcake with Smoked Bacon Biscuits. So so good!
For more recipes check out the Recipe Index.
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