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Mark Anderson and Ryan Fey, who starred in "The Grill Dads" and "Comfort Food Tour" on the Food Network, share their epic cheesy jalapeno popper and pork tenderloin mashup, which they grill, of course!
"This recipe (and cut of meat) is all about being stuffed! And we are going to stuff it with things that traditionally go inside a jalapeno popper. We are going to use a butterflied tenderloin as the vessel to hold cheese, onions, peppers, spices and honey, and wrap the whole damn thing with bacon. Why? Because bacon." —Mark and Ryan
Pro Tip from Mark and Ryan: Make this for a large crowd or do what Mark does: Make one just for yourself and have a good cry because of how tasty it is.
For more delish pork tenderloin recipes, check out Christopher Kimball's Seared Pork Tenderloin with Smoked Paprika and Oregano and Amanda Freitag's Honey-Glazed Pork Tenderloin.
Start this epic tenderloin by butterflying and dry brining the pork. Working with one tenderloin at a time, carefully remove any silver skin from the outside of the tenderloin and then slice it in half lengthwise (like a hot dog bun). Repeat with the second tenderloin. Cover the tenderloins with plastic wrap and then use a meat mallet to pound the butterflied tenderloins into a thin, even layer. Season the tenderloins on both sides with kosher salt and black pepper. Combine the red pepper, ancho chile powder, smoked paprika and garlic powder in a small bowl, and season the tenderloins on both sides with the spice mixture. Move the tenderloins to a sheet pan and cover them with plastic wrap. Dry brine these pieces for at least 4 hours in the fridge but preferably overnight.
You can make the filling about 1 hour before you plan to cook the tenderloin, or the night before. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat on the stove and add the olive oil, followed by the onion and a pinch of kosher salt. Cook until the onion starts to soften, about 4 minutes. Add the jalapenos, and cook until the onion and jalapenos are both charred. Remove the onion and jalapenos to a cutting board, and cool while you prep the rest of the filling.
In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, cheddar and honey. Season with a three-finger pinch of kosher salt and black pepper. Roughly chop the charred onion and jalapenos, then add these to the bowl of cream cheese, and mix to combine. The mixture may be a little soft from the warm vegetables, so pop it in the fridge for 5 minutes before you fill the pork. Crush 1 cup of the corn chips (this will go inside the tenderloins) and save the rest for garnishing.
Set yourself up for filling and rolling the pork. On a piece of plastic wrap, line up 6 slices of bacon and place one of the seasoned, flattened tenderloins on top—the longest part of the tenderloin should be closest to you with the bacon pieces running perpendicular. Sprinkle the tenderloin with ½ cup crushed corn chips. Dollop half of the cream cheese mixture across the length of the tenderloin, leaving a 1-inch space closest to you. Roll the pork up over the cream cheese—don't worry about rolling up the bacon yet. Do your best to get a tight, even roll. Once the pork is wrapped onto itself, roll the whole thing back toward you, this time wrapping the bacon as you go. Tightly wrap the tenderloin in the plastic wrap and chill while you repeat with the other tenderloin, and then heat the grill.
Prepare a grill for two-zone cooking on medium-high. The key here is to crisp the bacon without overcooking the pork. So, start with a cold tenderloin. Add the tenderloins to the hot side of the grill and cook until the bacon is beginning to crisp, about 10 minutes. Move the tenderloins to indirect heat and cook until they reach an internal temp of 140°F, about 15 to 20 minutes more.
Rest the tenderloins for 10 minutes before slicing into 1-inch pieces. Garnish with the crumbled corn chips, pickled jalapeno peppers and a drizzle of Ranch Crema, if desired.
For Ranch Crema: You can make the ranch crema just before serving, or a day in advance. Combine the crema, buttermilk, chives, parsley, garlic, kosher salt, and black pepper in a medium bowl. Whisk to combine, cover and chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Excerpted from The Best Grilling Cookbook Ever Written by Two Idiots by Grill Dads Mark Anderson and Ryan Fey. Copyright © 2022 by Mark Anderson and Ryan Fey. Used with permission by Page Street Publishing. All rights reserved.