Fire up the grill with bourbon pork tenderloin

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My almost-21-year-old son recently went to Europe. Without me. That doesn’t seem possible, but it happened. He went with his international business class at his university and they traveled to Paris and Prague.

It was thrilling to get his texts and photos and live vicariously through them. Oh, the beautiful sights! The beautiful people! And the beautiful food!

Yes, there was the matter of some school assignments that had to be written on the trip, but that’s small potatoes compared to the Eiffel Tower.

British author Terry Pratchett mused about travel, saying, “Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”

I was in my late teens when I first traveled without my parents, and I happened to head to Europe, too. New sights, sounds and the thrill of no curfew had me hooked on forever traveling with friends.

We also discovered that the legal drinking age in Europe is much lower than it is in the United States.

This got me curious, how did the legal drinking age in the U.S. come to be set at 21 years old? I discovered recently that it all began with the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the beginning of the Prohibition Era.

The Temperance Movement of the 1800s was devoted to total abstinence of alcohol and gained a following in certain religious groups. After decades of gaining members, garnering influence and heavy lobbying, the movement was instrumental in getting the 18th Amendment passed.

The amendment, ratified 100 years ago in 1919, established the prohibition of the production, transport and sale of intoxicating liquors, which included liquor, wine and beer. It didn’t prohibit the actual consumption of alcohol, but consumption did decline because of the inaccessibility of alcohol through legal channels.

All things alcoholic went underground and the next decade saw large scale bootlegging, speakeasies and organized crime. Eventually, the tide of public sentiment turned against prohibition and in 1933 the 18th Amendment was repealed, the only amendment to the U.S. Constitution to ever be repealed in its entirety.

The legal drinking age was then regulated on a state-by-state basis. Many states chose to set the legal minimum drinking age at 21, but some instituted legal ages as low as 18. And this is how it was for almost 40 years. Then in 1971, the legal age to vote in elections was lowered from the age of 21 to 18.

Many states took this as a cue to lower their drinking age to match the voting age and subsequently lowered their minimum legal drinking age to 18 years old.

Sadly, the lower drinking age seemed to coincide with a drastic increase in alcohol-related traffic fatalities. So in 1984, the U.S. enacted the National Minimum Drinking Age Act. The act declared that any state that did not raise the legal drinking age to 21 would lose millions in federal highway funds. By 1988, all 50 states adopted a minimum legal drinking age of 21 years old and this is where it still stands today.

This week’s recipe is from a website called plainchicken.com and incorporates some booze in the marinade.

Just five ingredients, an overnight soak and 15 minutes on the grill yields a tender, flavorful meal that you don’t need to be 21 to enjoy.

Photo by Betty Williams

Bourbon Teriyaki Pork Tenderloin

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup teriyaki marinade (such as Kikkoman brand)
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 2 Tbsp. Brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. Minced garlic
  • 2 pork tenderloins (about 1 1/2 lbs. each)

Directions:

In a gallon size Ziploc bag, combine teriyaki marinade, bourbon, brown sugar and garlic. Squish bag from the outside to help dissolve sugar. Add pork tenderloins and seal the bag. Refrigerate several hours or overnight.

When ready to cook, remove pork from refrigerator and let sit on the counter for 10 to 15 minutes to take the chill off. Preheat outdoor grill.

When the grill is hot, remove pork from marinade (discard marinade) and grill meat for 15 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Alternatively, you can bake pork at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove meat from grill and let rest for five minutes before slicing.

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