Brooks’ Pork Tenderloin with an Amazing Marinade

The first time I tasted my friend Brooks’s kickass grilled pork tenderloin was at a funeral reception. Good friend that Brooks is to so many, she showed up at the reception with a platterful of sliced, perfectly cooked and beautifully seasoned grilled pork tenderloins. A few days later, I called her for the recipe. I wrote the list of ingredients down on a piece of scrap paper and then promptly misplaced it. That was ten years ago, 1/18/06. I know this because I wrote the date on the piece of scrap paper. You would think someone who is meticulous enough to date scrap paper would have a decent method for saving it.

I thought of Brooks’s juicy and flavorful recipe every time I cooked pork using my pathetic but quick get-some-food-on-the-table-after-driving-boys-around-all-afternoon method of throwing two pork tenderloins into a bag with a salty steak marinade and roasting them at 400º until they were very well-done. In fact, the pork was so salty and dry; I quit making pork tenderloins all together for years. That was until Brooks’s recipe resurfaced a few weeks ago and I learned more about how to cook delicious pork tenderloins to the right temperature.


Let’s talk about how pork came to be the dry, well-done other white meat and not the juicy, tender pink meat we enjoy now.

Trichinosis; It’s no longer a health epidemic 

I grew up in the 60s and 70s. My mother and her mother before her cooked pork until it was well-done. They did so because of the prevailing fear of an illness known as Trichinellosis, aka Trichinosis, which came from the ingestion of parasitic roundworms known as Trichinella spiralis. Trichinae were found most commonly in the muscle tissue of pigs and wild game. The U.S. Public Health Service started counting incidents of Trichinellosis in the mid-1940s, around the time my mother was coming of age. At the time, 400-500 cases were reported each year, nationally. Because of my mother and grandmother’s respect for and fear of this malady, I knew the word Trichinosis as a ten-year-old. It translated into a disease that could surely kill you dead if you did not cook pork until it was well-done, the only way to destroy the heavily encapsulated parasitic worms.

This all begs the question, Where were pigs picking up this parasite?  The answer was garbage. In the old days, many pigs were fed raw garbage on pig farms. In the 50s and 60s, food laws changed, and the government said the garbage needed to be cooked, and BTW, no more feeding animal carcasses to pigs, raw or cooked. New farm hygiene protocols were also established and rodents, like rats and raccoons, were no longer allowed to have access to the pig pen.

Along with tighter control over pig farm hygiene, the government embarked on a massive publicity campaign instructing Americans to cook pork until it was well-done. The message stuck. Interestingly, in 1987, another ad campaign came along, this time from the National Pork Board, to pitch pork as a white meat alternative to chicken and turkey,  “Pork. The other white meat.” That slogan only served to reinforce the concept of cooking pork until it was white and well-done.

Technique Time: Heat Transfer

So, if you don’t need to overcook pork anymore, to what internal temperature should you cook it to get a moist, light pink center? The U.S.D.A says a minimum of 145º for all pork roasts and 160º for ground pork and patties. When using a meat thermometer, it should always be inserted into the thickest part of the loin without touching any bones. Finally, let the meat rest for 5-10 minutes before serving. During this time the internal temperature of the meat will rise by about five degrees and finish cooking the meat to 150º. Theoretically, you could cook the meat to 140º and let it finish off to 145º, but I tried that and it was too pink and chewy.

This five-degree temperature increase that happens when cooked meat rests is due to the rules of heat transfer. The temperature on the surface of the meat when you pull it out of the oven is the same as the inside of the oven, in this case, 400º. If the room temperature is 70º, the heat on the surface of the pork has to go somewhere for the meat’s temperature to equilibrate with the room temperature. Some of that heat is released into the room, and some goes back into the center of the meat, raising its internal temperature to 150º.

Back to the recipe

When I finally got the chance to make Brooks’s marinade recipe last month, a full ten years later, it wasn’t as kick-assy as I remembered. I think I had mismeasured on the side of timidity when it came to gauging how much was a glug of this or a dollop of that  (Brooks’s measurement terms!). I called Brooks for clarification and to ask if I could blog the recipe. The conversation started like this, “Brooks, do you remember making pork tenderloins for Buck’s mother’s funeral TEN years ago? [Yes.] Are you still making them the same way?” [Yes.] To my surprise and amusement, she told me her newly-wed son Alex had just called her for the very same recipe, so the ingredients were fresh on her mind. That, Dear Reader, is what keeper-recipes and motherful moments in cooking are all about.

Yield: 1¼ cups marinade good for 2-3 pounds of meat or two logs



¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup bourbon or rye
2  teaspoons “Tamari” Soy Sauce (a refined, more delicate, gluten-free soy)
2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
2 slightly heaping tablespoons Dijon Mustard
1 teaspoon Beau Monde Seasoning (a savory blend of salt and spices made by Spice Islands)
2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
10 peppercorns
Pinch of crushed red pepper
¼ cup brown sugar
5-8 large garlic cloves, sliced
5-6 stems fresh thyme, coarsely chopped (I use lemon thyme)
Zest and juice of one lemon
A dollop of cognac (optional)
2-3 pounds (2 logs) pork tenderloin, rinsed and patted dry


Remove pork tenderloins from the package. Rinse under cold water and pat dry.

Into a two cup liquid measure, add olive oil to the ¼ cup mark, then add bourbon to the ½ cup mark, and then all the other ingredients: Tamari, Worcestershire, Dijon, Beau Monde, red and black peppers, peppercorns, brown sugar, garlic, the zest and juice of one lemon, and the thyme. Do not add salt. There is plenty of salt in the Tamari, Worcestershire, Dijon, and Beau Monde. Stir marinade with a fork, being sure to mix in the brown sugar that settles to the bottom.


Mix pork and marinade together and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for eight hours or overnight. Turn it over and massage it every few hours.


Cook in a preheated 400º oven, or on the grill at the same temperature. Cook ten minutes on one side and turn over. Cook for another ten minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers at least 145º. Let rest 5-10 minutes before serving. Our favorite degree of doneness was 148º with a rise to 154º on the meat thermometer.

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Even at 154º, the meat is still pink.


If you would like a saltier more robust pork tenderloin, increase the Tamari and Worcestershire Sauce to 1 tablespoon of each. My sons liked it that way, but I thought the saltiness was overpowering.


Related Posts
Lemony Grilled Chicken Breasts
Mom’s Marinated and Grilled Lamb
Mom’s Roasted Lamb with Herb and Goat Cheese Topping
Lemony Grilled Chicken Breasts
Judy’s Mom’s Meatloaf
Brooks’s Pork Tenderloin Marinade


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© 2014-2017 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.

Lemony Grilled Chicken Breasts

When I wake up in the morning a little panic-stricken thinking about what I’m going to prepare for a large crowd coming in for a holiday weekend, I approach the menu by considering my entrée options first. My go-to’s are grilled Premio Sweet Italian Sausage from Costco, Brooks’s Marinated Pork Tenderloin, and marinated chicken breasts.


Next, I consider my sides, which I prepare depending on what is in season. Often, though, I delegate the sides to guests. The beauty of this approach is you get to try other people’s specialties, and that is always a fun and tasty option. Desserts are my favorite food to cook, and for a large crowd, I like to make a hotel-sized pan of the ever crowd-pleasing Pumpkin Bread Pudding only made with seasonal fruit instead of pumpkin, and either Italian Sesame Seed Cookies.


or Ricotta and Lemon Cookies.


I was never a fan of grilled chicken breasts until I saw my friend from Tiverton, R.I., Sheila, a master at feeding huge crowds, carry Ziploc bags full of pounded-flat marinated chicken breasts out to the grill. By pounding the breasts flat Sheila could ensure the chicken would cook quickly and evenly throughout. I’ve been pounding chicken breasts ever since.



Whole chicken breasts (for these photos, I made 24 breasts equalling 8 pounds)
@JudysChickens Everyday Salad Dressing
1-2 lemons, sliced thinly (depends on how much chicken you are preparing)
10 stems of thyme, rough chopped
a couple shakes of white balsamic vinegar, if you have it.


Rinse chicken breasts and trim fat.


Pat dry with paper towels.


Place each chicken breast in a thick bag and pound flat with the smooth side of a meat mallet.


Marinate pounded breasts in @JudysChickens Salad Dressing along with lots of sliced lemons and sprigs of thyme. You could add a little white balsamic vinegar and Grey Poupon for even more flavor if desired. Allow to marinate for a few hours to up to two days.

Grill for no longer than ten minutes.

Favorite Flavor-Enhancers: The Acids!

My mother always kept a bottle each of white and red balsamic vinegar in the fridge. She especially loved the white. Add a few shakes of white to the marinade for an extra burst of flavor.

Other Foods That Are Good To Serve At A Cookout
Sliced Beet Salad
String Bean Salad
Amazingly Delicious Sautéed Carrots
Marlin’s Black-Eyed Pea Salad
Grandma’s Italian Fried Cauliflower
“Croatian Cheese” a Flavorful and Exotic Appetizer Made with Feta and Goat Cheese
The Classic Pimiento Cheese Sandwich


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Follow Judy’s Chickens on Instagram and Pinterest @JudysChickens.

© 2014-2018 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos, videos, and text may only be reproduced with the written consent of Judy Wright.

Mom’s Marinated and Grilled Lamb

Mom had two ways of cooking lamb, roasted, the Easter Sunday wayor marinated and grilled, the everyday and sometimes Easter Sunday way. The marinade recipe she often used was from my stepfather’s cousin, Lynn Alpert.

We all know how you get a good recipe, “Mom, this lamb is soo good. How did you make it?” you say as you look for a piece of paper and a pen. Being the recipe keeper for the family, I usually traveled with my Recipe Collector’s Notebook published by Workman Publishing in the early 1980’s. If there was ever a book filled with Dirty Pages, it is this one.

I used it to record recipes as Mom cooked during summer and holiday trips. Cooking fresh vegetables in beautiful ways was Mom’s thing; I learned from the master.

Please refer to the post Mom’s Roasted Lamb with Herb and Goat Cheese Topping for detailed instructions on how to prepare a leg of lamb for cooking.


1  3 to 5-pound boned leg of lamb
¼ cup onion, diced
½ cup Major Grey’s Chutney
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
6 cloves garlic, smashed
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Mise en Place:


Trim fat from lamb per instructions from the previous post.
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Pierce meat with a sharp knife to allow marinade to seep into the tough leg muscles.

Mix marinade ingredients together in a small measuring cup.

Put lamb and marinade in a gallon-sized plastic bag and turn bag all around until the meat is well-coated. Refrigerate for 24 hours turning regularly.

Grilling Meat

This is not my domain. My stepfather, Joel, is the master griller in our family. My husband, brothers, and sons have all learned from him. Because he IS so good, wherever he goes he gets tasked with grilling.

While my experienced stepfather doesn’t need a meat thermometer to know when meat is cooked, those in training might want to start with one. The key to grilling meat is to remember that food continues to cook and reabsorb juices for a good fifteen minutes after it comes off the grill. You can read about allowing meat to rest here.

Back in Nashville, my husband turned the meat many times as it cooked. When the meat thermometer read 140º in the thickest piece, he removed it from the grill, covered it with foil, and let it rest for 15 minutes before slicing. The results were amazing.

If you would like to try dying eggs using natural dyes made from cooked vegetable skins, look here.
egg dying

Or, maybe, while you have jellybeans in the house, you would like to teach your children about the sense of smell. Check this post out.


Follow my photos of vegetables growing, backyard chickens hanging out, and dinner preparations on Instagram at JudysChickens.

Never miss a post: sign up to become a follower of the Blog.

© 2014-2017 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.

Mom’s Roasted Lamb with Herb and Goat Cheese Topping

My mother had two ways of cooking lamb: roasted, over a bed of vegetables with a herb and goat cheese topping, or marinated and grilled. On Easter, we often had the roasted version because it was more complex and, therefore, more special for a holiday meal.


The first time I made this recipe, on my own, I felt like such an accomplished cook as I had never made anything with so many layers of flavor. My success inspired me to experiment with new ingredients, especially with a variety of herbs and vegetables. Even today, as I taste one last spoonful of the creamy broth leftover in the bottom of the storage container that held this lamb meal, I am reminded of one of the reasons I love to cook — when it works, when what you have cooked is delicious, it is thrilling.

My mother’s cardinal rule for cooking lamb was that I had to trim off as much fat and connective tissue as possible. I never thought to ask her why. Serendipitously, as I was writing this post, my friend and fabulous cook, Lou Ann Brown, suggested I listen to a podcast from Sunday’s The Splendid Table titled “Why does lamb taste like lamb?” It was perfect timing for this post and helped me understand why Mom insisted on trimming off the fat. The quick answer to the question, according to Molly Birnbaum of America’s Test Kitchen, was “it all comes down to [lamb’s] fat and a particular type of fatty acid that lamb has that beef doesn’t have. It’s called branched-chain fatty acids, which humans can detect at tiny levels. It’s what gives lamb this gamy, and more earthy taste than beef.” If you ever needed the motivation to spend a little more time trimming fat, this is it.

There are three layers of ingredients in Mom’s recipe for roasted lamb: the bottom layer which consists of a bed of vegetables and herbs, the middle layer which is the lamb meat, and the top layer which is an herbed goat cheese topping. This top layer helps keep the meat moist while it cooks since most of the fat has been trimmed.

The first step is to prep the lamb and get it started marinating. You can do this step up to one day before. I’ll walk you through trimming the fat in the Instructions section.


Lamb Marinade:

1  3 to 5 pound boned leg of lamb
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
20 twists of cracked pepper

Bed of Vegetables:

4 potatoes (1½ pounds), sliced
4 carrots (½ pound), sliced
6 cloves garlic (½ oz), smashed
1 medium onion (½ pound), diced
5 fresh sage leaves
1 stem fresh rosemary leaves
1 cup beef stock
salt and pepper

Herb and Cheese Topping:

⅓ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1½ cup plain homemade breadcrumbs
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
the leaves of 8 stems of parsley
6 garlic cloves (½ ounce)
5 ounces goat cheese
½  cup grated Reggiano Parmesan
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

FYI: Lamb Cuts 101 (from my 1942 manual — I like the graphics):

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This is a 4½ pound boned leg of lamb. After trimming it of fat, it weighed 3¾ pounds. The netting is used to keep the meat together once the bone has been removed.


Once you remove the netting and unroll the meat, you’ll have two sides of meat to trim of fat and connective tissue.

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Trimming off fat is a little time consuming and a bit of a pain, but as I described earlier, it is necessary if you don’t want that gamy taste that tends to be a turn-off for many when it comes to eating lamb.

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I removed 11 ounces of fat.

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My husband trimmed a leg of lamb, too, and did a much better job!

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How to Prepare Each Layer:

In a medium-sized bowl, mix the marinade ingredients: oil, salt, and pepper, with the lamb. Stir and make sure every chunk of meat is well-coated with oil. Set aside for an hour, or up to 24 hours.


Prep the vegetables and herbs for the bottom layer and set aside.


Using a food processor, prep the topping layer: first, add the garlic, Parmesan, and parsley and pulse.

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Next, add the breadcrumbs, goat cheese, lemon juice, oil, salt, and pepper and pulse until the mixture is well blended, but still has lots of texture. Set aside.

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Putting It All Together

Layer 1: The bed of veggies moistened with a cup of beef broth and a few shakes of salt and pepper.


Layer 2: The marinated lamb is spread out over the veggies.


Layer 3: The herb and cheese topping is spread out over the meat with a spatula.


Bake in a 5-quart roasting pan in a preheated 400º oven for approximately one hour and 15 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest chunk of the meat reads 140º. Take the roasting pan out of the oven, cover, and let the meat rest for 20 minutes before serving. *The lamb will continue to cook to 145º (for medium).

If the topping isn’t lightly browned enough, you may want to leave the roast in the oven for five more minutes until it browns. If you are worried about overcooking the meat, put the roast under the broiler for a few minutes. One of the nice things about roasting a leg of lamb is there will automatically be some pieces of meat that will be well done, some that will be medium-well, and some that will be medium, due to the varying degrees of thickness of the meat.


*If you need a little refresher course on the concept of heat transfer when cooking meats, look no further than here.

Here’s how the roast looked when served for dinner. The potatoes were amazing, per my family. The goat cheese infused broth is delicious!


Related Posts for Easter Day

Fun to do with Children:
To Dye For: Making Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs
How to Tell If an Egg Is Fresh or Hard-Boiled
Test Your Sense of Smell with Jellybeans

50 Ways to Make a Frittata
Quiche Lorraine with Bacon and Kale
Mom’s Monkey Bread, circa 1970
Fruit and Nut Bread

Grandma’s Italian Fried Cauliflower
Amazingly Delicious Sautéed Carrots
Cauliflower: Roasted, Blanched, and Mashed
Roasted Butternut Squash, Brussels Sprouts, and Cranberries

Italian Ricotta and Lemon Cookies
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie


Follow my photos of vegetables growing, backyard chickens hanging out, and dinner preparations on Instagram at JudysChickens.

Never miss a post: sign up to become a follower of the Blog.

© 2014-2017 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.