Pork Tenderloin – Stuffed & Grilled

pork-tenderoin stuffed with swiss chard pineapple

Disappointment solved. Ever have a dish that stumps you?  You make it sometimes and it comes out incredible, then other times it’s just , ehh.  You start going through your head trying to figure out where you went wrong.  What are the variables that changed? Ingredients, timing, heat…  What the hell did I do wrong?  Frustrating, isn’t it?  However there is also a by-product of the hair-pulling frustration.  “Hell yeah!” joy when you finally figure it out.  Today I’m saying, “Hell yeah!”

The dish is Pork Tenderloin stuffed with swiss chard and pineapple, then grilled over charcoal.  The pork tenderloin is first butterflied then allowed to absorb a ginger/soy marinade.  Next, some swiss chard is blanched then seasoned with sauteed shallots and garlic, then combined with sweet, ripe pineapple dices. That mix is then put wrapped up into the pork loin, tied up, and topped with a slightly spicy soy-caramel glaze that is brushed on as it grills over charcoal that have had some smoker chips thrown on top for a little extra kick.  Sounds quite tasty, doesn’t it?  And it when it comes out right, this grilled pork tenderloin is damn tasty.  However, in our experimentation with this dish, it hasn’t always come out correctly.  The flavor it there, but the texture is not consistent.  Sometimes perfect, other times the meat will seem a bit pasty.  Being that the pork tenderloin is cooked over charcoal, the temperature is always a variable and open to suspicion.  Especially since we’re letting the coals cool a bit past their peak to decrease their temp some.

However there was another suspect.  The pineapple.  That sweet little fruit who’s flavor and image is symbolic of the beautiful, laid back charm of Hawaii.  I’ll warn you now, don’t be fooled by it’s apparent innocence, that bastard’s got issues. We had know pineapple juices to affect chicken and break down meat excessively, but chicken meat can be a little pansy ass.  Many times if you marinate it too long, that break down will occur.  Pork is usually much more resilient.


The stuffed pork tenderloin was a dish we wanted to serve on Easter. We were having a group of fantastic friends over, and this would be a great dish to pull off of the grill.  So we tested it,  4 times. First, we tried isolating the heat, then tried a different substitute  for the pineapple.  It seemed the heat was the issue.  If it the coals were too cool, the meat was pasty, however a little hotter and it was right on.  Confident in our findings, the pork tenderloin was put on the menu for Sunday.

Sunday’s meal was incredible.  We started with an amuse bouche, a truffle custard egg based off of Thomas Keller’s that has been cooked back in it’s own shell.  It’s was eye-rolling, shiver inducing good.  (Recipe will be coming later when we remake it and shoot it) And the tasty food kept coming.  Everyone contributed to the meal, and everyone knows their stuff.   Ohhs and ahhs were commonly heard, and well deserved.  Finally deep into the evening it was time for the pork tenderloin.  Coals were of the correct heat and close attention was given to it’s grilling and everything should have been perfect.  Should have been…   After slicing and tasting, the pork was f#*& ing pasty.  Not terribly so, but still not the texture it should have been.  I told you that pineapple was a bastard.  I had missed one other element.  Time of interaction between the pineapple and the pork.  We had stuffed the pork ahead of time, so it would be quick to put on the grill.  That elongated stuffing time had allowed the pineapple the break down the pork tenderloin’s center into a mild pastiness.


Determined to conquer this potentially super tasty grilled tenderloin, we have re-tested our theories.  Now the pork is hitting perfect every time.

So here are the rules to making this very tasty,  although initially perplexing dish:

The heat. Grill over direct heat.  The coals should be at medium-high temp.  Too much heat and the pork tenderloin will cook too quick on the outside and not cook all the way through the inside. Too cool and the meat looses some of it’s bounce and the pineapple juice has the chance to make the meat’s texture pasty.  The stuffing. Pineapple is one of the tastiest options, but you can not stuff ahead of time.  Stuff and tie only when you are ready to grill then put that bad boy on the barbie.  If you need to stuff ahead of time, change the fruit to dried cherries, golden raisins, currants, or such.  Give them a little extra zing by macerating them in dark rum or another inebriating beverage of your choice for about 30 minutes prior to stuffing. That’s the tricks.  If you are nervous about attempting this, think of it as a learning experience.  That’s how we all become better cooks.


grilled pork tenderloin

5 from 1 vote
Grilled Pork Tenderloin stuffed w/ Swiss Chard and Pineapple
Total Time
45 mins

This is a variation off of our stuffed pork chops.  The tenderloin works great when serving a crowd and the chops are perfect for the smaller gatherings.

Servings: 8 Servings
  • 1 Pork Tenderloin (about 1 pound)
Marinade Ingredients
  • 1/3 cup Grapeseed Oil
  • 3 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Soy Sauce (depending upon the saltiness of your preferred soy)
  • 1 Tablespoon grated Fresh Ginger
  • fresh cracked black pepper
Stuffing Ingredients:
  • 8 Lrg. Swiss Chard Leaves , stems removed
  • 1 Tablespoon Oil
  • 4 lrg. Shallots , diced
  • 3 cloves Garlic , crushed
  • 1/2 cup Pineapple , diced
  • Sea Salt
  • Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
Glaze Ingredients (optional, if not using just brush with some oil)
  • 1/4 cup Oil
  • 1/4 cup Soy Sauce
  • 1 Thai Chili (roughly cut)
  • 1 clove Garlic , crushed or minced
  • 3 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
  1. Butterfly and pound the pork tenderloin so that it is a even layer less than 1/2" thick. (for demo see Jacques Pepin here at @ 12:55 mark)
  2. Combine all marinade ingredients together.  Put pork tenderloin in a bag and pour in marinade.  Turn to completely coat the tenderloin, seal the bag and put in fridge to marinate (recommend 4 hrs to overnight, but if less it will still be tasty.)
  3. Prepare stuffing. Cut swiss chard into approx. 2" slices.  Bring pot of water to boil, add sea salt to taste, then par-boil swiss chard for 1-2 minutes. Drain, place in a ice bath until cool, then drain again. Squeeze out excess water.
  4. Heat grapeseed oil in pan over medium-high heat, add shallots and sauté for 1 minute. Add garlic and saute one more minute. Combine cooked swiss chard, shallots, garlic, and pineapple in a bowl.  Toss to combine and season lightly with sea salt and pepper.
  5. Heat grill to medium-medium high direct heat. (If using charcoal, allow to heat up all the way then start to cool off.  This dish is perfect to grill after you've already grilled on high heat for burgers or similar) Lay out pork tenderloin.  Layer one half lengthwise with stuffing.  Fold other half of tenderloin back over to enclose stuffing, then tie the pork tenderloin to help keep it's shape.
  6. If using, combine all of the glaze ingredients (oil, soy sauce, Thai Chili, garlic, and brown sugar).

  7. If possible, throw some smoker chips on charcoal, then place tenderloin on grill.  Cook for approx. 8 minutes, then turn over.  Brush top side with glaze and grill another 6 min.  Turn, brush with glaze and grill another 3 minutes.  Turn again, brush with glaze and grill another 3 min.

  8. Push to feel done-ness, or cut to make sure pork tenderloin is fully cooked (times will vary depending on grill heat and tenderloin thickness) After pork is done, remove from grill and allow to rest for @ 5 min.  Slice into approx. 8 medallions and serve.
{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }
  1. Evan@swEEts

    I have a pork tenderloin that has this recipe written all over it! The addition to fruit always lends to a wonderful stuffing- last week we stuffed a tenderloin with dried apricots and kiwis.. surprisingly it was fantastic so I can’t wait to try pineapple!!

  2. Steve

    Last week-end I found this recipe by accident and it is so delicious! Of course you need spices to get most out of the flavour of the meat, especially when cooking pork. But this stuffing is really smart and creates a perfect taste. For those who like an Asian-style tenderloin I can recommend this Pork tenderloin with Sesame Ginger Sauce

  3. George Jetson

    I used this recipe on a 5.6lb loin, and it was the best pork I have ever had. Marinated overnight, grilled on propane, for considerably longer than listed here because of the size (ended up being a bit over an hour total), and it was juicy and amazingly flavorful. This is an awesome dish.

  4. White on Rice Couple

    julie – Story is true. I swear. I felt better after hearing Quinn the chef/owner at Hatfield’s having issues working out a recipe too. That’s part of the fun and challenge of cooking. T.

  5. julie

    Tricky tricky pineapple! Damn you. I’m with Leah on this one… I think everything you guys make is perfect the first time around and you are just making up this cute story to make us feel better. 🙂 Well I do.

  6. White on Rice Couple

    Jen – Damn it, we just need to find a way to live closer to each other. Miss you, too!

    shayne – Thanks. Hope our learning and sharing has helped your problem.

    Jude – Thanks.

    Tim – Very interesting. The pepper counteraction sets up a whole new train of though for the stuffing. We had a bit of spice on the glaze, but inside would be nice, too. Yay science, indeed. More experimentation ahead! Thanks for sharing.

    Thanks again for visiting and sharing everyone. Happy grilling. Todd.

  7. Tim

    Nice work on discovering the culprit. I remember on Heston Blumenthal’s first show he talked about pineapple and how that same protease — bromelain — prevents you from making pineapple jelly as it breaks down the gelatin protein.

    His solution was to gently warm the pineapple juice he was using with a few slices of red bell pepper. These contain a chemical that inactivates the enzyme, and are mild enough (particularly at such a gentle heat) to not impart any off flavour to the pineapple (he strained the capsicum out afterwards). I wonder whether mixing some finely diced peppers into the stuffing would have a similar effect? Or even better, something hotter to give a bit of a kick to the dish?

    Yay science!

  8. Jude

    Haha will keep that in little pineapple tidbit in mind. Enjoyed reading your trains of thought while solving your culinary dilemma.

  9. shayne

    Enjoyable post, as always. thank you for the information, now something I have been working on and has hit or miss results now may be fixed. thanks.

  10. Jen Yu

    Way to bitch-slap that pork into submission! I love the repeated experiments – reminds me of lab classes really, but with an edible (and delicious) ending. Now I’m jealous that I don’t live there nor you guys here! wahnnnnn.

  11. White on Rice Couple

    cheffresco – Thank you.

    Heather – It’s fantastic grilled. Definitely something for summer,

    Manggy – We wish you could have been here too. We’ll just have to go visit you in the Philippines!

    Leah – We feel lucky to have such incredible friends like you to share our lives with. There are always humbling days in the kitchen, but that helps keep us seeking more and develops us into better cooks.

    pam – (a slightly evil laugh is heard from the WORC household)

  12. pam

    “Chicken can be a little pansy ass” – my favorite food blog line ever!

  13. Dana Zia

    Hey guys! Yummy pork loin recipe! We made one for Easter that was from a local organic pig, holy mole was it great! We made little piggy grunts during dinner. I have always wanted to stuff one though. I am looking forward to grilling….everything!!! I was just thinking about that today as I grilled some asparagus rafts. They were simple and magnificent! Just posted about it.
    Happy grilling!
    Dana Zia

  14. Leah

    See, and I had no idea what a challenge that dish was. I always think everything you make comes out perfect the first time 🙂 Makes me feel better about the ice cream debacle. I’ve had similar experiences with high-acid fruits and meat, I like to think of it as the ceviche-effect without all the good taste. But I like the way you break it down here. I’m usually restrained for that very reason and I think you take the guess-work out of it. Thanks. And of course thanks for being your incredibly wonderful selves and sharing Easter with us. We are blessed.

  15. Manggy

    I never knew there were so many issues– unnerving as I love pairing pork with pineapple! Even with the abundance of fresh pineapple though, I still use canned (and unwittingly avoid the whole bromelain issue). I’m glad that you got it sorted out; it looks fantastic! Wish I coulda been there! 🙂

  16. Heather

    mmmm. i love the stuffing in that. pork tenderloin is one of my favorite things to make – it’s so versatile. i can’t believe i’ve never grilled it!

  17. White on Rice Couple

    Sophie – Thanks.

    Kristina – Definitely so. We were recently at Hatfields in LA (a Michelin starred restaurant) talking to the chef/owner, and they’d have issues with dishes too. Dish works great one day, not the next. He spent a week developing a particular recipe. But that care is part of what makes them great.

    Dominique – Let us know how it you like it.

    Phoo-D – The people and meal were absolutely amazing. The former making the latter even more so.

    The Italian Dish – Totally agree on the pork loin. It needs a little pick-me-up. The sun dried tomatoes sound like an excellent addition.

    Jeff – Nice technique. Similar to pan searing the finishing in the oven. For smoking we reserve our peach tree cuttings for smoking (branch pieces @ 1′ long). 1 branch about 2″ thick was perfect for @ 2 hrs grill time. We can’t wait for our asian pear tree to thicken up a bit to try cuttings off of it. I wonder how our flowering cherry would work.

    Jen – Your welcome 😉

    Steve-Anna – We should have asked if you had a site & linked it when we first posted. It was so great having you over. You tenderloin improvisation sounds great. The zing from the chipotle would be fantastic. I don’t think citrus has the same enzymes so you were safe there, although I’m not 100% sure. We try to develop the finger feel for when meat is done (pushing on the meat to feel it’s firmness) but sometimes it’s trickier with the larger pieces. Sierra still goes everywhere with the toys you brought them. You are too sweet!

    Alisa – It was a bomb-shell of of piggy!

    matt – French Laundry is still one of my favorites for the complete wow factor. You pull off one of his dishes, people will “wow!” Consider it noted about the tying technique. We have been talking about doing quick videos on tips and tricks, so this will go to the head of the list. Until then, check out Pepin’s book. That’s where we learn most of those type of skills.

    Allen – Big meat is where the fun starts. Time slows down, flavors bury in. If you want any suggestions on good places to begin, email us & we’ll chat.

    Thanks for visiting everyone! BBQ season is fast approaching. Feel free to share what you’re excited about making. Todd.

  18. cheffresco

    You guys have the cutest blog & some very amazing photos. This recipe looks great!

  19. Allen of EOL

    How beautiful! I am often intimidated by making ‘big meat’ (anything larger than a steak). I love sweet flavors with pork and this looks amazing!

  20. matt wright

    Man, talk about a rocking easter. This pork looks outstanding. I would eat your works in progress any day of the week. Good to know about pineapple screwing up the texture of the pork. Lovely shots of the pork on the BBQ. I have yet to try anything really from the French Laundry books – but those eggs sound awesome. Would love to see your twist on em.

    Out of interest, can you guys do a video of your tying technqiue with the meat? looks a darn sight better than when I do it.

  21. Alisa - Frugal Foodie

    How in the world did you make pork look soooo good?! Love the flavor combination in this recipe too.

  22. Steve-Anna

    I was so inspired by the grilled pork tenderloin from Sunday’s Easter feast that I grilled one myself for the first time last night! It was a blend of your earlier BBQ Pork Loin Stuffed w/ Swiss Chard post, and SimplyRecipes’ Chipotle Citrus marinated pork ternderloin (http://elise.com/recipes/archives/001669chipotle_citrus_marinated_pork_tenderloin.php). I know, strange, but I was somehow inspired to improvise.

    Luckily, the citrus didn’t break down the pork even though I marinated it way ahead of grilling. I placed wet mesquite chips down inside the gas grill for some smoke, but had a difficult time gauging when the meat was ready (don’t have an instant read thermometer). It took longer than I expected to grill on medium heat. In the end, the taste and texture were great even though the meat was a tad on the rare side (all the talk of “shoe leather” in other recipes had me wary of cooking too long). Next time maybe I’ll be brave enough to try the pineapple!

    Thank you for sharing your lessons learned with us, and thank you again for sharing your home, food, friends and pups on Sunday!

  23. Jen

    “I’ll warn you now, don’t be fooled by it’s apparent innocence, that bastard’s got issues.” — Thanks for the laugh and the delicious photos!

  24. Jeff

    Nicely done!

    Normally for anything I do pork tenderloin wise I will do a charcoal chimney. 3/4 of the charcoal goes for a direct heat source to sear it and then I scoot it over to the cooler half (remaining 1/4) to finish cooking.

    What type of wood chips did you use? For pork I love a good apple or cherry wood. Imparts good smoke but not a heavy smoke.

  25. The Italian Dish

    I love how you methodically worked through this! I do a similar dish all the time, only with pork loin. I stuff it with spinach and sun dried tomatoes. Pork loin can be dry and boring and the stuffing brings it to life. I love your combination, though – swiss chard and pineapple. I’m doing that one next.

  26. Phoo-D

    I’ve been struggling with a stuffed pork tenderloin recipe too. We fell in love over several evenings at a certain restaurant eating a certain pork tenderloin that is now off the menu. So far our attempts to recreate it have fallen short- I think it’s going to take a while! I appreciate the tips on cooking temps and the pineapple, very helpful. Looks like it was a wonderful meal with great people!

  27. Dominique (de vous à moi...)

    Nice idea! I need new reciepes to cook with my barbecue. I’ll try this one next sunday… thank you.

  28. White on Rice Couple

    Very cool. Thanks for the advice. Do you know how much you have to cook the pineapple to minimize the enzymes? Could it be little enough that the pineapple still keeps it’s fresh qualities?

  29. Kristina

    Nothing better than a great meal at home with friends. Thanks for sharing that even with experience, cooking is not always perfect the first time around.

  30. Sophie

    WAw, perfection! I love all of the ingredients, there are my favourite ingredients!! This looks delicious & fab!

  31. Marc @ NoRecipes

    That looks great! I totally know what you mean about having to iterate a few times on a recipe to get it to work the way you want it to. I have a few works in progress that I’m starting to get frustrated with.

    It sounds like you figured it out, already, but the bromelain in pineapples (the enzyme that breaks down the proteins) can be neutralized by precooking the pineapple. The heat destroys most of the enzymes responsible for the change in texture, so you can get the flavor without the pasty texture.

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