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Hot-smoked pork tenderloin

When we get a whole pig carcass in the kitchen at River Cottage, the tenderloin is generally one of the first cuts we deal with. It does not lend itself to being frozen because it is so lean. Instead, we often whip it out, before any other major butchery takes place, dry-cure it and get it in the hot smoker.


Using a sharp knife, trim the tenderloin of any fat and silvery sinew.

Mix all the cure ingredients together thoroughly in a bowl. Use the salt-box method to apply the cure to the tenderloin: place a handful of the cure in a small food-standard tray, sit the tenderloin on top and completely cover with another handful of the cure.

Now, either cover with a clean tea towel or place in the fridge for an hour, by which time the meat will have lost some moisture, which will be apparent in the cure around it, and be firmer to the touch and slightly darker in colour.

Wash the cure from the tenderloin under a cold running tap and dry it thoroughly.

Prepare the hot smoker with the wood chips, place on your heat

source and hot-smoke the tenderloin for 10-12 minutes. Allow to rest for 4 minutes.

At this point, you could finish off the tenderloin by frying it in a little butter, but I would only do that if you aren't sure the internal temperature of the meat has reached at least 65°C. We like to serve the tenderloin slightly pink in the middle - which we can do with confidence as the pork is of a high quality. It should be moist and melting with a golden-brown, smoky exterior.

Slice and serve - it makes a delicious canapé.

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  • 1 free-range pork tenderloin

For the cure:

  • 200g demerara sugar
  • 200g PDV salt
  • 5 bay leaves, shredded
  • 20 juniper berries, bruised

This recipe is taken from...

River Cottage Curing & Smoking Handbook

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