Drunk and Dirty Tenderloin

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This one owes its inspiration to our old Kentucky home—the one in Bourbon County. It was there, in the same year that the country adopted the Constitution, that a Baptist preacher named Elijah Craig invented the wonderful American whiskey that flavors this tenderloin. Over the years, it has proved to be one of our most popular dishes, great for casual dinners and fancy affairs alike.

  • 1 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • ½ cup bourbon or other sour-mash whiskey
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-pound beef tenderloin
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  1. At least 4 hours, and up to 12 hours, before you plan to barbecue, combine the marinade ingredients in a lidded jar. Place the tenderloin in a plastic bag or shallow dish and pour the marinade over the meat. Turn the meat occasionally if needed to saturate the surface with the marinade.
  2. Prepare the smoker for barbecuing, bringing the temperature to 200 degrees F to 220 degrees F.
  3. Remove the tenderloin from the refrigerator and drain the marinade, reserving it. Cover the tenderloin thoroughly with the black pepper first, then the white pepper. Let the tenderloin sit for 30 minutes.
  4. Pour half the marinade into a saucepan and refrigerate it until the tenderloin is cooked. If you plan to baste the meat, pour the other half of the marinade into another saucepan and stir in the oil and water. Bring the mop mixture to a boil over high heat and boil for several minutes. Keep the mop warm over low heat.
  5. In a heavy skillet, sear the meat quickly on all sides over high heat. Transfer the tenderloin to the smoker and cook for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, mopping every 20 minutes in a wood-burning pit, or as appropriate for your style of smoker. The meat is ready when the internal temperature reaches 140 degrees F to 145 degrees F. Be careful not to overcook since tenderloin is best rare to medium-rare.
  6. Bring the reserved portion of the marinade to a boil, and boil for several minutes, until the marinade is reduced by on-fourth. Slice the tenderloin and serve topped by spoonfuls of the sauce.

Yield: 6 people

Time: 6-8 hours

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