Pork Loin vs Pork Tenderloin

Do you sometimes yell at your television?

I yell at my TV every time I watch a cooking show where someone uses the terms “pork loin” and “pork tenderloin” interchangeably. They are not the same cut of meat!

I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised, because both cuts come from the whole pork loin, but they are two distinctly different pieces of meat. And the confusion between the two cuts runs deep with tradition. Throughout the Midwest, they make something called a pork tenderloin sandwich which is really a slice of pork loin that’s pounded thin, breaded, fried until golden brown and delicious, and served on a bun. It looks amazing, but it’s pork loin, folks, not tenderloin!

Pork loin is located next to the pig’s spine, with the meat sitting right on top of the baby back ribs. If a pig asked you to scratch his back, you’d be scratching pork loin. Pork loin is sold bone-in or boneless, usually with a fat cap. You can cook it whole as a roast, or you can cut it into chops.

Pork tenderloin is a thin cylindrical muscle that’s attached to the inside of the ribcage. You couldn’t scratch a pig’s back and touch tenderloin. Pork tenderloin is sold boneless and is very lean, with no fat cap. In fact, pork tenderloin is just as lean as skinless chicken breast…very heart healthy! You can cook it whole or slice it into medallions for pan searing.

What pork loin and pork tenderloin both have in common is a mild taste. Both need something to amp-up the flavor. Think dry rubs, marinades, brining, salting, or serving with flavorful sauces over the meat or on the side.

Pork Loin Pork Tenderloin
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So now you know the difference between pork loin and pork tenderloin.  We now return you to our regularly scheduled program already in progress. And feel free to yell at your television as much as you like.

Photos: National Pork Board

Remember Your Warranty

In May, I wrote about an example of fire box burn-through in a Weber Genesis E-310 propane grill. In that post, I noted that the grill was only 7 years old. An astute reader reminded me that full-sized Weber gas grills come with a 25-year warranty on the fire box and that a free replacement fire box would be a better solution than the repair shown in my post.

Yeah…why didn’t I think of that?

When was the last time you thought about your Weber gas grill warranty? If you’ve been suffering with a problem and haven’t gotten around to fixing it, maybe it’s covered under warranty!

Here’s a list of warranty info I’ve lifted from Weber.com. I’m providing it here for informational purposes, make sure to check your owner’s manual for the specifics for your grill or call Weber at 800-446-1071 for more details.

WEBER SUMMIT, GENESIS & SPIRIT SERIES WARRANTIES
Aluminum castings 25 years (2 years on paint excluding fading)
Stainless steel shroud 25 years
Porcelain-enameled shroud 25 years
Stainless steel burner tubes 10 years
Stainless steel cooking grates 5 years, no rust through or burn through
Stainless steel Flavorizer® bars 5 years, no rust through or burn through
Porcelain-enameled, cast-iron cooking grates 5 years, no rust through or burn through
Porcelain-enameled, steel cooking grates 3 years, no rust through or burn through
Porcelain-enameled Flavorizer® bars 2 years, no rust through or burn through
Infrared rotisserie burner 2 years
All remaining parts 2 years
WEBER Q SERIES WARRANTIES
Cookbox 5 years, no rust through or burn through (2 years on paint excluding fading or discoloration)
Lid Assembly 5 years, no rust through or burn through (2 years on paint excluding fading or discoloration)
Stainless steel burner tubes 5 years, no rust through or burn through
Porcelain-enameled, cast iron cooking grates 5 years, no rust through or burn through
Plastic Components 5 years, excluding fading or discoloration
All Other 2 years

Replace Your Old Grill Brush

Weber 6493 21-inch 3-sided grill brush
Weber 6493 21-inch 3-sided grill brush

In July 2012, the Centers for Disease Control published an article about injuries resulting from the ingestion of wire bristles from grill brushes. The story was reported widely in the press at the time and caused quite a bit of concern about the safety of grill brushes, and rightly so, since wires can become lodged in the throat or intestines and cause severe pain.

It’s important to check the condition of your grill brush often. If bristles are coming off the brush head, or you’re finding stray bristles inside the grill, it’s time for a new brush. It’s common to not notice anything until you clean-out the inside of your grill and find the bottom filled with little pieces of wire.

Also, after preheating the grill and brushing the grates, spend a few seconds examining the grates. If you find stray bristles on the surface, carefully remove them before placing food on the grill…and then toss that old brush in the trash!

Just to be safe, Weber recommends that you replace your grill brush each spring to avoid any problems. The Weber 6493 21″ 3-Sided Grill Brush is one of the best and is highly recommended by members of The Virtual Weber Bulletin Board.

The Weber 6493 21″ 3-Sided Grill Brush is available at Amazon.com

Cleaning Porcelain Enamel With Steel Wool

A popular technique for cleaning exterior porcelain enamel on Weber grills, both gas and charcoal, is to use super-fine 0000 steel wool and a degreasing spray like Simple Green or Formula 409. You can use this technique to occasionally deep-clean your grill or to restore an old grill to like-new condition.

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Here are the steps:

  1. Use a damp cloth to remove any surface dirt.
  2. Spray degreaser generously on the surface. Using a circular motion, scrub gently with super-fine 0000 steel wool to remove grease build-up. Apply more degreaser if it begins to evaporate.
  3. Wipe away residue with a damp cloth and check your work. Repeat Step 2 if some areas are still dirty.
  4. Wipe the surface several times with a clean damp cloth and dry with a soft towel to remove streaks.

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Thanks to countless members who have shared this technique on The Virtual Weber Bulletin Board.

How To Prevent Foods From Sticking To Grates

Grates just waiting for foods to stick!
Grates just waiting for foods to stick!

There’s nothing more frustrating than foods that stick to the grate. We’ve dealt with this subject numerous times on The Virtual Weber Bulletin Board…a new Weber owner is about to kick his $700 gas grill to the curb in frustration because no matter what he tries, everything seems to stick!

In my experience, meats with high fat content like 80/20 burgers and steaks don’t tend to stick. It’s lean cuts like skinless chicken breasts and pork tenderloins that are the problem.

Here’s the procedure I use to ensure the least amount of sticking when I grill lean meats.

  1. Light all burners. Preheat the grill on the highest heat setting for 10 minutes to burn-off residue from the last grilling session.
  2. Use a grill brush to remove any residue from the grates.
  3. Before putting food on the grill, examine the grates for any brush or scrubber bits that would be dangerous if eaten and carefully remove them.
  4. After cleaning the grates, adjust the burners to your desired setting and allow the grill temperature to stabilize.
  5. Spray the surface of the lean meat with non-stick cooking spray before placing it on the grate. You can spray right over any dry seasonings or rub. If using a marinade, pat-off any excess before spraying.
  6. Place the sprayed side down on the grate. Allow the meat to get a good sear on the first side before turning. Some meats will initially stick a lot but then release when a good sear has developed.
  7. When turning meat, use a large spatula to carefully separate it from the grate, lift it high above the grate and spray the top side, then place the sprayed side down. Spraying meat on the grate may result in dangerous flare-ups and is not recommended.

It’s usually not necessary to spray again after both sides have been seared. Just carefully work that large spatula under the meat when turning it.

Many experts recommend oiling grates before grilling. I don’t find this to be a particularly effective technique, but here’s how to do it if you want to give it a try. Place a good amount of vegetable oil in a small bowl. After Step 3 above, wipe vegetable oil on the grates using long tongs and a large wad of paper towels. Repeat up to 10 times to create a somewhat non-stick surface. You must repeat this process each time you grill.

TVWGG Hot Dog Taste-Off: Almost Organic Division

Welcome to the TVWGG Hot Dog Taste-Off!

This is the third installment of our summer hot dog taste-off. If this is your first visit to the taste-off, make sure to read the first installment for details on how we’re selecting and judging the hot dogs.

Last week, Ball Park Deli Style was the winner over Hebrew National, Nathan’s Famous Skinless, and Ball Park Angus in the Big Brand Premium Division taste-off. This week, we’re examining a small category in the world of hot dogdom.

The Almost Organic Division

These hot dogs share some attributes with organic hot dogs but are not certified organic. Although they are labeled “uncured”, they have essentially been cured using the sodium nitrate that occurs naturally in celery juice or celery powder.

  • Open Nature (Lucerne/Safeway): $4.99
  • Oscar Mayer Selects (Kraft): $3.98

(Note that in these photos, the hot dogs are always shown in the order listed above.)

The Almost Organic Division - Front view
The Almost Organic Division – Front view
The Almost Organic Division - Rear view
The Almost Organic Division – Rear view
The Almost Organic Division - Without packaging
The Almost Organic Division – Without packaging

You’ll notice that the Open Nature hot dog looks more brown than the Oscar Mayer Selects. The Open Nature packaging makes claims about no antibiotics, no added hormones, and all vegetarian fed; the Oscar Mayer Selects packaging makes no such claims.

Grilling the hot dogs
Grilling the hot dogs

The hot dogs were grilled together and served to the judges.

Once the hot dogs were grilled but not overly cooked, they were brought indoors and immediately judged on appearance, then sampled and judged on taste and tenderness/texture.

Hot dogs ready for judging
Hot dogs ready for judging

The Results

Open Nature squeaks by Oscar Meyer Selects with a 0.56 point margin of victory.

Here are the weighted scores:

  • Open Nature: 63.4172
  • Oscar Mayer Selects: 62.8572
Judges’ Comment Cards
  • Open Nature: Nice color; looks like meat; nice sheen; firm texture
  • Oscar Mayer Selects: Nice color and sheen; good flavor, a bit too salty

So Open Nature is the winner of the Almost Organic Division! Stay turned for our next division contest: The Organic Division.

All Taste Offs

5 Steps To Burger Brilliance

Photo from 5 Steps to Burger Brilliance
Photo from 5 Steps to Burger Brilliance

The good folks at Weber have provided this excerpt from Weber’s Big Book of Burgers by Jamie Purviance titled “5 Steps To Burger Brilliance”. It contains great tips for making your best grilled burger this summer!

I’ve posted the text and photos on our companion discussion forum The Virtual Weber Bulletin Board. I hope you enjoy it!

Read “5 Steps To Burger Brilliance” 

Preheating The Grill

Grilling on a Weber Q 220 after proper preheating
Grilling on a Weber Q 220 after proper preheating

It’s important to preheat your gas grill thoroughly before cooking. Proper preheating has the following benefits:

  • Preheating burns off any residue left from the last time you grilled.
  • Foods tend to stick less to grates that have been preheated.
  • Foods tend to cook more quickly and evenly in a grill that’s been preheated.

Check the owner’s manual for your grill for the recommended preheating instructions and length of time. Although your grill may vary, many experts recommend 10-15 minutes of preheating before grilling.

Reusing A Weber Frame As A Grill Cart

TVWBB member Rich Dahl made a wonderful grill cart from an old Weber gas grill frame.

“I was looking around for some type of movable service cart for my cooking area and just didn’t find what I wanted, or the price was way out of line,” says Rich. “I was on Craigslist one day and ran across a Weber Silver B gasser for $20.00, pretty beat up, but being in dry Arizona, no rust at all. I bought it, and with a repaint and some surplus clear pine and some trim, I built my own.

“Total cost $34.00 including the Weber.”

Read the reactions to Rich’s project on The Virtual Weber Bulletin Board.

TVWGG Hot Dog Taste-Off: Big Brand Premium Division

Welcome to the TVWGG Hot Dog Taste-Off!

We’re continuing our taste-off of the best hot dogs for summer grilling. If this is your first visit to the taste off, make sure to read the first installment for details on how we’re selecting and judging the hot dogs.

Last week, Oscar Mayer beat Ballpark and Farmer John in the Big Brand Basic Division taste-off. This week, we up the ante by tasting upscale tube steaks from the most recognizable names in hot dogs.

The Big Brand Premium Division

This division includes what some would consider higher quality hot dogs from the biggest names in the business.

  • Ball Park Angus (Hillshire): $3.98
  • Hebrew National (ConAgra): $2.98
  • Nathan’s Famous Skinless (licensed to John Morrell/Smithfield): $2.98
  • Ball Park Deli Style (Hillshire): $3.99

We had hoped for an entire division dedicated to kosher hot dogs, but Hebrew National was the only big brand available in supermarkets in San Jose, California where the taste-off was held. That’s why HN has been placed in the Premium Division alongside these worthy competitors.

(Note that in these photos, the hot dogs are always shown in the order listed above.)

The Big Brand Premium Division - Front view
The Big Brand Premium Division – Front view
The Big Brand Premium Division - Rear view
The Big Brand Premium Division – Rear view
The Big Brand Premium Division - Without packaging
The Big Brand Premium Division – Without packaging

Judges Make Exception For Hebrew National

The Hebrew National hot dogs shown here are 50% larger than the competition, weighing-in at 3 ounces each. The taste-off rules require a standard length hot dog weighing about 2 ounces each. Hebrew National makes a 1.72 ounce hot dog, but it’s not readily available in San Jose, California where the taste-off was held. In order to include HN in the competition, the judges made an exception to the rule to allow this larger hot dog.

Grilling the hot dogs
Grilling the hot dogs

The hot dogs were grilled together and served to the judges.

Once the hot dogs were grilled but not overly cooked, they were brought indoors and immediately judged on appearance, then sampled and judged on taste and tenderness/texture.

Hot dogs ready for judging
Hot dogs ready for judging

The Results

Ball Park Deli Style sliced up Nathan’s Famous by 2.9 points, gored Ball Park Angus by 4 points, and made Hebrew National say “Oy Vey!” by 5.2 points.

Here are the weighted scores:

  • Ball Park Angus: 61.68
  • Hebrew National: 60.5828
  • Nathan’s Famous Skinless: 62.88
  • Ball Park Deli Style: 65.7372
Judges’ Comment Cards
  • Ball Park Angus: Good color; salty; mushy
  • Hebrew National: Looked bland, tasted bland; good texture
  • Nathan’s Famous Skinless: Not the best color; good balance of salt and spices; good texture
  • Ball Park Deli Style: Nice color/sheen; excellent spicy flavor; good texture

So Ball Park Deli Style is the winner of the Big Brand Premium Division! Stay tuned for our next division contest: The Almost Organic Division.

All Taste-Offs