Sweet Tea Brined Pork Tenderloin

by Renee on June 5, 2012

Sweet Tea Brined Pork Tenderloin

All Hail The Queen! The Holiday Recipe club is celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the 60 year anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s reign over England. The HRC has embraced holidays and celebrations from all over the world. Why limit to US holidays? I think international events are quite fun. It has given me the opportunity to learn more about the holidays in other countries. It is just as exciting to me as celebrating family heritage.

The recipes for this event had to include one of three ingredients: tea, jam, or worcestershire sauce. I am starting to believe the HRC is reading my mind as to what recipes I am planning to post. It seems each time I have something to share that fits right with the ingredients. This past week I went to my local farmers market. It was opening day for the season and I was ready for farm fresh produce. I came home with a few things:

Vegetables, herbs, plants, and eggs purchased at a farmers market

The squash begged to be grilled. At least it did to me. I also wanted to grill a meat to go with it. Steak is usually my first choice but this time I wanted something different. Sweet tea brined pork tenderloin is what I decided upon. It had been on my to-cook list ever since I watched Virginia Willis prepare it at the Chefs In The City event. Virginia used pork tenderloin at the event instead of the pork chops as stated in her Basic to Brilliant, Y’all cookbook. I adapted the recipe with the same substitution.

The sweet tea brine tenderizes the pork and gives it a nice flavor. It is not overpowering and was perfect to go with the fresh vegetables. I also took the extra step in the cookbook to transform the basic recipe to brilliant with grilled onions. I omitted parsley from the original recipe because my husband does not care for it. I listed parsley as optional below.

Do you visit local farmers markets? What is your favorite food or item to buy? The freshness of everything is so wonderful. I look forward to it each year and it inspires me to cook so many things. I cannot wait to get back to the market this week to get more.

Are you a food blogger? If you would like to participate in the next Holiday Recipe Club blog hop, go to the HRC website for more information.

Please take the time to visit the other posts with wonderful recipes by Holiday Recipe Club bloggers. Just click on the links below. (If you are reading this in an email or RSS reader you will need to go to the post on my site to see the links to the other blogs).

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Sweet Tea Brined Pork Tenderloin

Sweet Tea Brined Pork Tenderloin

Recipe adapted from Virginia Willis Basic to Brilliant, Y'all cookbook (page 145, Sweet Tea-Brined Pork Blade Steaks). Recipe courtesy Virginia Willis.

    For the pork tenderloin:
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 family size or 8 regular size black tea bags
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 3 cups ice cubes
  • 1 or 2 pork tenderloins
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • For the grilled onions:
  • 3 onions (Vidalia preferred)
  • Canola, grapeseed, or light olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional)
For the pork tenderloin:

Combine the salt, sugar, and tea bags in a heat proof bowl. Pour over the boiling water and stir to dissolve. Let steep for 10 minutes. Add the ice and stir to cool. Add the pork, cover the bowl, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Do not brine longer or the pork will be too salty. Remove the pork from the brine, rinse well, and pat dry with paper towels. For even thickness (better for grilling) tie the tenderloin tucking in the thinner end. Allow the pork to get to room temperature (about 1 hour). Season the pork with pepper before placing on the grill.

Grill tenderloin(s) on medium heat, turning it every 3 to 5 minutes, until the internal temperature reads 145 degrees F. Remove the pork from the grill and place on a cutting board. Tent with foil and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the tie and slice the tenderloin into 1/4 to 1/2-inch slices. Transfer slices to a serving platter.

For the grilled onions:

While the pork in marinating, slice the onions into 1/2-inch rings. Place the rings on a rimmed baking sheet and brush both sides with oil. Season with salt and pepper.

While the pork is grilling, place the onion rings on the cooler part of the grill and cook, turning once, until tender, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the onion rings and place in a bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap (to trap the heat and continue to cook and wilt the onions). Let rest until ready to serve. Add the sherry vinegar and parlsey (if using) and toss to combine and coat. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed or to taste. Serve alongside pork slices.

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Fiona Maclean June 5, 2012 at 3:55 am

Brining is quite rare in the UK. I’ve tried once with a chicken and some of my US friends at that point said pork was a good thing to try…so maybe I will!!


Renee June 5, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Thank you Finoa! I hope you do use a brine for pork, chicken, or turkey soon. It really makes a difference.


Hezzi-D June 5, 2012 at 7:00 am

This looks delicious! I love sweet tea and wouldn’t have thought of doing this.


Renee June 5, 2012 at 12:11 pm

I would have never thought of it either if I had not seen it or tasted it before. Who knew tea could be so versatile?


Jen @ Juanita's Cocina June 5, 2012 at 7:05 am

This looks and sounds absolutely amazing, Renee!!!


Renee June 5, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Thanks Jen!


Eliot June 5, 2012 at 9:07 am

Nice Southern twist to honor the Queen. Pork is a good choice anytime for a celebration!


Renee June 5, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Thank you! I do enjoy pork and I agree it is good for any celebration.


Erin @ Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts June 5, 2012 at 9:17 am

This looks wonderful! I have a recipe that marinates chicken in tea. I haven’t tried it yet, but I know now it will be good!


Renee June 5, 2012 at 12:14 pm

I will have to try this sweet tea brine on chicken or turkey also. I think it would do quite nicely.


amy @ fearless homemaker June 5, 2012 at 10:30 am

sounds wonderful! i love the idea of the sweet tea -brined pork. i bet it tastes just delicious!


Renee June 5, 2012 at 12:15 pm

The taste is so great! I had it that evening and then the next day for leftovers. I froze the rest. It was so good.


Jennie @themessybakerblog June 5, 2012 at 8:32 pm

Renee, I love the brine you used for this pork. I bet it was one tasty piece of pork.


Renee June 6, 2012 at 10:54 am

Thanks Jennie! Yes, it was tasty. I know it will be a go-to recipe for me to make time and time again.


K-bobo @ Gormandize with A-dizzle & K-bobo June 5, 2012 at 9:36 pm

I’m glad to hear the the ingredients I picked suited what you were cooking anyway! It’s always nice when it works out like that! Unfortunately, even though I picked the ingredients I was really stumped as to what to make with them haha – which is why my post was slightly late!


Renee June 6, 2012 at 10:55 am

Great job on hosting this Holiday Recipe Club event. Each time I cannot wait to see the other recipes for the featured ingredients.


BigFatBaker June 6, 2012 at 9:39 am

Now that I am in the south this summer I feel it is necessary for me to make this! Pork and sweet tea all in one….amazing. Great post Renee! And I agree, the International holidays are fun and a good challenge :)


Renee June 6, 2012 at 10:57 am

An absolute must for you to make this since you are a southern gal now.


Karriann June 6, 2012 at 10:49 am

I never thought of using tea for brine. But it sounds so amazing that I just have to try it ;)

“Spice it Up”


Renee June 6, 2012 at 10:58 am

Thanks Karriann!


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