From both eating and cooking standpoint, lions and tenderloins are one of the best pork cuts. They are meaty and can be cooked for tender and juicy treat for which we all love red meat. However, there is a whole lot of difference between the two when they are cooked on grills.
Tenderloins are lean and thinner so they are prepared or rather seared on high heat for a short time. On the other hand, pork loins are beefy cuts from which you can carve multiple steak-like pieces. Therefore, they are grilled through the classic low and slow cooking process.
All those people who have spent enough time on the grills agree that grilling the latter pork cut is trickier. So, in this piece, we will focus our discussion on how to grill a pork loin on a charcoal grill for its succulent texture and heavenly taste.
A pork loin can only be grilled to perfection if it is cured in the right manner. For that matter, we will start our discussion with the thorough process of pork loin curing.
How to Cure Pork Loin for Charcoal Grilling
With the following steps, you can perfectly cure the pork loins for your charcoal grates.
Prepare the Dry Seasoning Rub
Take brown sugar (since it adds up to the taste of pork) and other dry seasoning spices in a bowl and mix them to make a consistent blend. Chili powder, onion powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, black pepper, paprika—there are many different spices that you can use in the making of the dry seasoning rub. We would suggest you pick a seasoning recipe that is not overfilled with ingredients. A simple dry seasoning offers better results with the taste when the loin is eventually grilled.
Apply the Dry Seasoning and Wrap the Pork Loins Airtight
Put pork loins on the baking sheet and generously season them with the spice blend that you have made. Use your hands for effective seasoning. After thoroughly rubbing both sides of loins with the dry seasoning mixture, cover them with a plastic wrap for an airtight setting.
Refrigerate them for a Night
Put the baking tray into the refrigerator a night before the grilling. This extended time window will allow the loins to soak in the spices. Moreover, the low temperature will transform this dry seasoning into a protective barrier that will also help in preventing the charred grilling.
After curing the pork loins, it’s time to set up your charcoal grill.
How to Set Up Charcoal Grill for Pork Loin Grilling
We are breaking down the entire set up and grilling process in different sections so you can easily follow them. Moreover, some additional information will be covered here, which will give your grilling the touch of an expert.
Soak Some Wood Lumps in Water
Before doing anything else, throw some dry wood chips in the basket full of water and let them soak the moisture. Why do you need to do that? This will be answered in the later section. It will be better if you put the wood chips in water an hour before the actual grilling starts.
Start the Charcoal Chimney Starter
A charcoal chimney starter is your best friend when you take on the grilling of tricky items such as loins or ribs that need low and slow cooking. When you are cooking for a large gathering and grilling time of a single batch of meat spans an hour or more, then use briquettes instead of simple hardwood lumps and lit them collectively in a charcoal chimney starter.
Put a stack of old newspaper in the lower chamber of the starter and put briquettes in the vertical compartment. Light the newspaper and wait for 20-30 minutes to get red hot sweltering coals for your charcoal grill. With an active chimney starter right next to the grill, you will never run short of lit up coals.
Make Heat Zones
Low and slow grilling is only possible if your charcoal grill grates are zoned for different temperatures. Pork loins are also grilled to perfection when they get medium heat at a gradual rate. So, pile up burning briquettes on each side of the pit and keep the middle part empty. With this briquette setting, you will be able to grill your pork loins on indirect heat by putting them on the middle grates.
Use Cooking Sherry
Now, this is the tip that can completely turn around your pork loin grilling. Put some cooking sherry in roasting pan (made of foil) and place it in the middle of heated briquettes in the pit. The heat from briquettes will vaporize some of the sherry to produce flavoring fumes that will add more depth to the taste profile of the grilled pork loin.
Furthermore, the liquid sherry will also take care of the grease dripping off the grill that often causes unwanted flare-ups.
Oil the Grates
After arranging the lit up briquettes and cooking sherry in the pit. Put the grates on and oil their middle part. For clean and precise oiling, use grill sprays. Otherwise, basking brushes are always there to help you with that.
Put the Cured Loins on Grates
Five minutes after oiling the grates, put the cured loins on its center part right above the cooking sherry. Make sure that no part of loins gets the direct heat.
Slide the Soaked Wood Chips in the Grates
After putting the cured pork loins on the grates, slide those soaked wood chips from both sides of grates onto the burning briquettes. This will produce the natural smoke that everyone loves to have in any grilled meat. Moreover, this steamed smoke will also override any chemical taste that briquettes might introduce in the pork loins.
Close the grill lid as soon as you put the wet wood chips to ensure homogeneous smoke treatment of every pork loin from all sides.
Grill the Loins for an Hour
Grill each side of the loin for an hour on the indirect medium heat. Open the lid after 30 minutes and flip the loins on the same middle grates without changing their position. Like ribs, loins don’t need direct heating. However, you can sear them for a couple of seconds to get a crusty outside.
Take off the Loins After Checking Their Doneness
The best way to check loins’ doneness is to check its internal temperature. If you grill too often and particularly red meat, then buy a meat thermometer. It will make your doneness tests more on point. As you get near the total grilling time (60 minutes), put the thermometer inside any of the loins and wait for a couple of seconds for the meter to pick up the temperature reading. If the meter gives any number from 150-170 Fahrenheit, take the loins off the grill.
Let the loin rest for a couple of minutes for carryover cooking where it’s inside temperature rises 10-15 Fahrenheit more. A loin with the internal temperature of 185 Fahrenheit is considered perfectly grilled with no undercooked and overcooked characteristics.
Now cut the tender slices of the grilled loin and serve them with the sides and sauces that you have specially prepared for this feast.
Some Additional Tips to Get Better Grilling Results
Besides following the guideline that we have discussed, these little things will also have a significant impact on the final results of pork loin grilling.
Don’t Open the Lid Time and Again
While it’s tempting to see a pork loin steaming, changing colors and giving off mouthwatering aroma, opening the lid after every couple of minutes can affect its taste. The heat, smoke and all that cooking moisture will escape the grill and you will end up with a grilled loin of lesser quality.
Use Apple or Cherry Wood
As mentioned earlier, the sweetness goes well with pork. Wooden chips you use in the grill can also be used to add that fine grading of sweetness. For that pick either apple or cherry wood lumps. They are easily available and add a sweet tinge of smoke to the grilled pork loin.
Basting with Different Liquids
In place of liquid sherry, you can use also use apple juice. Similarly, you can also bask the loin with these liquids if you love to have extra juicy bites.
Put Sauces Right at the End
Most of the sauces that are used during grilling contain a considerable amount of sugar. Putting it too early on the loin can result in sugar crusting that will affect the cooking process. If you are a fan of those sauces and want to bask the loin with them, then make sure you do this right before taking the loin off the grill.
Grilled pork loins can be an equally nutritious, delicious and exciting alternative for all those who are tired of steaks. But for that, it is important you grill them the way we have mentioned here.