Monday, March 29, 2010

Penne with Peas

I am sure that you have heard much about the plight of polar bears and global warming but did you know that they are using the simple green pea to catch the polar bears for relocation?

It seems the scientists and environmentalists have discovered an environmentally safe way to trap them. They excavate a 3.5 meter hole in the ice and then place green peas around the edge of the hole, spaced out at 1/2 meter intervals.

Then when a polar bear comes to take a pea they run up and kick him in the ice hole!

What? Oh come on, don't be like that. It was funny!

Anyway here is the side dish from last night's Smoked Black Pepper Ribeye Steaks. This is a recipe from Ciao Tuscany by Johnny Carrabba & Damian Mandola.

Penne con Piselli (Penne with Peas)
Source: Ciao Tuscony

1/3 cup unsalted butter
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup pancetta, diced (I substituted bacon)
1/2 pound peas, fresh or frozen
2 Tbsp water
1 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
1 pound penne pasta (substituted angel hair)

Cook your pasta according to directions. Reserve 1 cup of the liquid after straining but it might not be needed.

Melt the butter in large saute pan and saute the onion and pancetta for 5-8 minutes, when the pancetta starts to crisp. I was using bacon which didn't cook as fast as the onion. Next time I'd skip the butter, cook the bacon by itself for 2 minutes and then add the onion. Actually, next time I'd go to the damn store and get pancetta, it was Sunday and I was lazy.

Reduce heat to low and add the peas and 2 Tbsp water, cooking the peas until tender. Add the cream, season with salt and pepper (I used some of the smoked pepper I had made) and continue cooking for 2 minutes.

Add in the cheese in batches until melted.

Toss the pasta into the sauce to coat. If the sauce is too thick or you don't have enough sauce, add in some of the reserved pasta water. We didn't have to but we had cut the pasta and peas to 1/2 of the listed quantity because we like extra sauce.

Feel free to top with some more cheese.

This was a creamy, decadent side. I would have liked it better with the penne just because the peas kept falling off the angel hair as I ate. But that is nit picking because this is a wonderful comfort side dish.

Just be careful while your eating it and keep an eye over your shoulder. Some polar bear might try to sneak up and kick you in the ice hole!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Smoked Black Pepper Ribeyes

Let's face it, ribeye steaks grilled over wood coals don't need much help other than coarse salt and cracked pepper.

Sure beef fillets (fillet mignon) need spicy rubs and rich sauces to bring flavor to their tenderness. But ribeyes stand on their own. If you try to add too much to a ribeye, you end up taking away from it. Additions should be simple and subtle, like smoking the black pepper.

Last year McCormick came out with their Smokehouse Ground Black Pepper. It is EXCELLENT for use on steaks, burgers, and as a substitution for regular black pepper in your BBQ rubs, but I ran out and decided to make my own today.

Wait. Don't run off, thinking, "Screw it, Chris, another smoking recipe? I don't have a smoker." You can do this.

To smoke black peppercorns, all you have to do is make a $20 cold smoke generator using a common soldering iron and a tin can (click this link for my post on how to do it) and then you could do this in any container, like your gas grill. Really go check the link, this is SO easy to make. It took me about 10 minutes to make this cold smoke generator. Then you can use it to smoke your own spices, cheeses and nuts.

The simple ingredients for smoked black pepper are peppercorns and a mix of hickory & cherry wood.

Fill your cold smoke generator with wood chips and plug it in. Once it starts smoking, put your bowl or container of peppercorns into the container, close it and let it smoke for about 90 minutes. Stir the peppercorns about every 15-20 minutes.

It's called "cold smoking" because while there is plenty of smoke, the temperature is less than 80f degrees.

After taking the smoked peppercorns off of your "smoker", coarsely crush them with a rolling pin, mallet or grinder.

Store ground pepper in an airtight container.

Smoked Black Pepper Ribeyes
Source: Nibble Me This

2 ea ribeye steaks, thoroughly thawed (see hot tubbed steaks tip)
coarse smoked black pepper to taste

coarse sea salt to taste

Rub your steaks with salt and pepper while you bring your grill to high heat. I had my Big Green Egg burning natural hardwood coal at 500f. Then I tossed the tempered ribeyes onto the grill.

Grill for 2-3 minutes and then flip.

Keep grilling for another 2-3 minutes until the steak is at your desired degree of doneness.

Remove from the grill and let rest for 10 minutes.

When grilling, using coarser grinds for your seasonings makes a huge difference to me.

To grill a good steak, make sure your temps are high, your grate preheated, and cook with your grill lid closed to keep flare ups to a minimum.

But when you are cooking for only 2-3 minutes a side, flare ups really aren't a big deal and they make for pretty good food porn.

I served it up with Pasta with Peas from Ciao Tuscany! I'll post that recipe later this week.

I had plenty extra for leftovers until Brett (6'4") and his friend Colin (6'5") came home from playing basketball. I guess it's sandwiches for lunch tomorrow :(

Friday, March 26, 2010

Blues Hog BBQueban Sandwich

The Cuban sandwich is a South Florida classic and it is one of my favorites. It is a hot pressed sandwich of Cuban bread, sliced ham, spicy roasted pork, mustard, and sliced dill pickles. There are several variations to it depending whether you are from the Tampa area or further South. I was thinking about making some Cubans for the Tennessee vs Ohio State Sweet Sixteen game tonight.

Earlier in the week I was at Food City and was thrilled to see they have started carrying Blues Hog's line of BBQ sauces! [Standard review disclaimer: Unless otherwise stated, I have no affiliation with and received no compensation from restaurants or product manufacturers reviewed and paid full retail price for the item reviewed.]

Blues Hog is one of the most highly respected sauces among BBQ enthusiasts. The folks on the BBQ forums all rave about it, for good reason. Just how good is it? Ulika Food Blog (competitive BBQ team and a Big Green Egg owner) says, "I thought I could eat toenail clippings if I had Blues Hog to go with it."

One of the problems with buying specialty BBQ sauces is that you have to order online and pay shipping that almost doubles the cost. So at $3.99 a bottle, I bought all three varieties.

Blues Hog Tennessee Red - A thin vinegar based sauce that is excellent on pulled pork. I tasted it on pulled pork comparing it side by side to my vinegar based sauce and they were very similar, so no wonder I loved it.

Blues Hog Barbecue Sauce - I've tried this on pulled pork and chicken thighs. This is what most people think of when they hear "Barbecue Sauce". Thick, sweet, spicy, smoky and stick to your fingers good. This was Alexis' favorite.

Blues Hog Honey Mustard Sauce - South Carolina style mustard sauce is an acquired taste. You either love it or hate it. I think it's earthy rich flavor is wonderful. This one is as good of a mustard sauce that I have made or tasted.

So I was on my way home from work tonight and "food-dreaming" about dinner when inspiration hit me. I was using leftover pulled pork for the "roasted pork" part of the sandwich, why not use the Blues Hog Mustard Sauce in place of the plain yellow mustard that normally adorns a Cuban? I present to you....the BBQueban.

Blues Hog BBQueban Sandwich
Source: Nibble Me This

1 loaf Cuban bread (I can't get it around here so use French bread)
1/4 pound ham, thin sliced (use good quality ham, not the cheap stuff)
1/4 pound pulled pork
1 ounce Blues Hog Honey Mustard BBQ Sauce (or use any South Carolina style mustard BBQ sauce)
4 each dill pickle slices (lengthwise slices like Claussen brand Sandwich Slices)
1/4 pound swiss cheese

Slice the bread lengthwise. Lightly butter the inside of the bread and grill/toast until crisp.

Top the bottom with the ham, pork, mustard sauce, pickle, cheese and the top piece of bread. Cut in half at an angle.

Cook in a panini press for 5-8 minutes. If you don't have a press, you can put the sandwich between a hot griddle and a preheated cast iron (or heavy pot) on top.

One easy presentation tip is turning your cheese slices diagonally so bits stick out of the side.

This sandwich was a smashing success!

Yeah, that bread is crunchy good. The crispy texture of the bread and pickle are perfectly matched with the gooey cheese.

Good? These go to eleven.

These are big sandwiches. I could only eat one half of mine and I was still stuffed.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Greek Fire Roasted Chicken

Recipe inspirations come from the weirdest places.

I was wondering what to do with a whole chicken that I had thawing. Trevor was watching a recorded episode of Myth Busters about Archimedes "solar death ray". That in turn made me think about "Greek Fire". It was a flame thrower type weapon (as far as we can tell) that the Byzantines used in naval battles around the 9th and 10th century.

Then I thought, "Greek Fire, Roasted Chicken....yeah, that'll do!"

I didn't actually have any Greek Fire on hand so I used my Big Green Egg.

Greek Fire Roasted Chicken
Source: Nibble Me This

1 whole chicken, spatchcocked (butterflied)
8 Tbsp butter

1/4 cup Feta cheese, crumbled

1/4 cup oregano, chopped

3 ea large olives, pitted and finely diced

1/2 to 1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 to 1 teaspoon garlic pepper (sub black pepper if you don't have any).

1 ea lemon

This turns out so good thanks to the compound butter. It kind of bastes itself during the roasting.

Soften the butter and mix in the feta and about 1/2 of the oregano. Shape into a log by rolling it in parchment paper and squeezing into shape. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes or long enough to be firm.

Using your fingers, separate the skin from the meat in several areas around the breasts and thighs of the chicken. Work about 1/3 of the compound butter and all of the diced olive into the pockets. Don't worry if it crumbles, mine did. You can move some of it down into the legs and hard to reach areas by "massaging" or pushing it along from above the skin.

Crumble about 1/2 of the butter mixture on top of the spatchcocked chicken and season with the salt, pepper, and remaining oregano. (This will leave some leftover compound butter. It's great to spread on bread and then toasting in the oven.)

Roast the chicken skin side up on a grill set up for indirect cooking at 350f. You'll want to use some sort of drip pan because this one will get messy as the butter starts to melt and baste the chicken with it's magic.

Setting for the BGE: Plate setter in legs up, drip pan on top, bird on the plain grid. If you want crispier skin, you could use a raised grid ("grid extender"). I was using plain lump, bottom vent open about 1-11/2". Most of the time the DMFT was closed with the daisy wheel open.

Setting for charcoal/gas grills: It's ideal to have heat sources on both sides of the chicken. For example if you have a left, middle and right burner, have the left and right ones on with the chicken over the middle (turned off) burner. If you can only have heat on one side, you'll want to rotate (not flip) the chicken every 15 minutes for even cooking.

Setting for oven: Preheat a cast iron skillet in the 350f oven for a good 10-15 minutes. After you put the butter under the skin BUT BEFORE you put it on top, place the chicken skin side down in the skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes to get a quick sear on the skin. Flip the chicken over in the skillet. Now top with the butter mixture, seasonings and herbs and roast as directed.

Roast the bird until it his 180f internal temp in the thighs and 160f internal in the breasts. This should take from 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours but go by temp. About 1 hour into the roast, sprinkle the juice of the lemon over the chicken.

Let rest for 10 minutes, carve and serve.

We served it with this spanakorizo recipe from About and My Big Fat Greek Salad (courtesy of Joi at Get Cooking's review of Gourmet Meals in Crappy Little Kitchens).

Our chicken came out tender, very moist, and the crispy flavorful crust was excellent. The spanakorizo was not bad but rather forgettable. I did a few substitutions on the salad (sun dried tomato instead of anchovies for the vinaigrette, smoked olives instead of kalamata, fig vinegar instead of sherry vinegar) but it was very good too.

The compound butter rolled, chilled and ready to go.

You can see the lumps of butter under the skin now, but they'll be gone by the end.

My "Mess" en place for the salad.
It was too pretty outside to be in the kitchen making a salad. Those Applewood Smoked Olives in a Napa Valley Chardonnay from Mezzetta are EXCELLENT! It was worth the splurge, I got them from Food City for about $6.50.

The My Big Fat Greek Salad was a huge hit with Alexis and me. I love salads that make me wince here and there:) The sharpness of the feta and plives and the bite of the vinegar and red onion played well together. I forgot the little toast wedges:(

It only LOOKS like the feta and butter all melted away but the flavor stayed around.

I need a macro lens, but you can see in the shot of the sliced breast that it was perfectly juicy. You can also see the bits of olive left under the skin. Yum!

Final plated shot of the bird and spanakorizo.

This chicken recipe would also work well using bone in chicken breasts and would take less time.

I'll definitely be making this one again.

I am submitting this to 5 Star Foodie's "5 Star Makeover" compound butter challenge. If you have a compound butter recipe with a twist, hop over there and enter it! Thanks to Greg at SippitySup, blogger extraordinaire, for the tip about the challenge.

Monday, March 22, 2010


In school I was in the Gifted Program. Actually, I was the dumbest kid in the Gifted Program, I didn't get in when tested in 4th grade but passed testing in 6th grade. The best thing about that program was that I got to be around a bunch of very smart, wickedly funny, and quirky people.

One of those people, Ricky, knew that Greg was at a Boy Scout meeting. Ricky prank called Greg's mother, who happened to be German. Ricky pretended to be Greg and told Greg's mother that he was going to be late and that she would need to then pick him up at the mall. Greg's mother started scolding "Greg" in her thick German accent about being inconsiderate and it being a school night. Ricky then said, "Gee, don't be such a sour Kraut!" and hung up.

I was reminded of that incident when I had my first ever Reuben sandwich, yesterday. You see, while I do love pastrami, sauerkraut just grossed me out. Funny thing was I had never tasted it. It was an uninformed opinion based on fact-less perceptions. I was happy living within the parameter of my food bias.

But then YOU PEOPLE (yeah all of you who made corned beef this week for St. Patrick's Day) had to taunt me and make me crave pastrami.

And then Alexis reasoned that if I was going to smoke pastrami, I needed to at least try sauerkraut on a Reuben. She was right. I love cabbage in a vinegary slaw.

So I made corned beef using on of those pre-packaged brisket flats and then smoked it at 225f with some cherry wood yesterday afternoon. The pastrami rub from Derrick was perfect.

Pastrami Rub
Source Derrick Riches
4 tablespoons kosher salt

4 tablespoons paprika
3 tablespoons coriander seeds
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons black peppercorns

2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
1 tablespoon white peppercorns

8 cloves garlic, minced

Combine coriander seeds, peppercorns and mustard seeds in a spice grinder. Grind coarsely. Add in remaining ingredients and mix well. Rub is now ready to use. It may be stored, refrigerated in an airtight container.

I bought refrigerated sauerkraut. At least that way if I hated it, I hadn't wasted my time.

I used this dressing recipe, which was very good.

Kraft Thousand Island Dressing clone
Source: Todd Wilbur
1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons ketchup

1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons sweet pickle relish
1 teaspoon finely minced white onion

1/8 teaspoon salt
dash of black pepper

Mix all the ingredients together well. I added 6 dashes of hot sauce because it seemed a touch too sweet. Let it sit in the fridge for a few hours to let the flavors get to know each other.

I didn't take many pictures because it was a gorgeous spring Saturday and we were busy rehabilitating the yard and flower beds.

Guess what! I LIKE sauerkraut. Who knew? The Reuben rocks. I had another one yesterday, but I grilled that in my panini press and I liked it even better. you have a food bias against something that you've never actually tasted? What is it?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Croque Madame & Get Together Update

Blogger Get Together Update
Back in late February, we posted THIS MESSAGE regarding a blogger get together and several fellow bloggers have expressed interest. We have now selected June 6 as the date and are just letting you know so you can pencil it on your calendar. We'll post again in late April with the details and ask RSVP's.

Note: This was started by a few food bloggers but is not limited to food bloggers. If you blog or if you're a foodie that doesn't blog, feel free to get involved.

Croque Madame
I have fallen in love with a new lady. She's a real classic, she's rich, she makes my mouth water, and she's....she's....she's a sandwich, the Croque Madame.

This is one of the free recipes at Rouxbe Online Cooking School. It was one of the suggested follow up recipes to the practice portion of some of the egg classes I've taken. I knew I was going to be enthralled with this one, how can you go wrong with a rich, cheesy Mornay sauce, the same topping for the Kentucky Hot Brown?

Mornay Sauce
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp. Kosher salt
pinch of white pepper
1/4 cup grated Gruyère cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

8 pieces bread (preferably something like Brioche or Italian)
2 tbsp. butter
8 to 16 pieces plain ham (1 or 2 per sandwich)
1 - 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 cups grated Gruyère cheese

2 tsp. butter
4 large eggs
salt and pepper (to taste)

To make the Mornay sauce, melt the butter in a sauce pan over medium low heat and then whisk in the flour. Keep stirring for about 2 minutes. Then whisk in the milk. I used half and half instead to make it even more creamy. Then reduce heat to low and add salt, nutmeg, and pepper. Keep whisking and add in your cheeses. Pecorino romano cheese was an excellent substitution for the parmesan cheese.

To make the sandwiches, lightly toast the bread. I skipped this step inadvertently and didn't realize it until writing this up. Didn't seem to matter. Top the bottom slice of bread with a little dijon mustard, 1-2 pieces of ham, about 1/4 cup of the Gruyère cheese, and about 2 tablespoons of the Mornay Sauce.

Top with another piece of bread and the generously ladle about 1/4 cup of Mornay sauce on top so it drips over the edges like so. Don't be stingy with it. Top with more Gruyère cheese. Oh yeah, it's a good idea to cover your pan with foil for easy clean up.
Place in a 400f oven for 3 minutes and then pop them under the broiler for about 1 minute or until the cheese is bubbly and starting to brown.

The recipe calls for topping it with a egg fried however you like them. I normally like mine over hard but in this case, I went with over easy. I also threw some more Gruyere on there.

The results were exceptional. The creamy cheese, runny yolk, hint of dijon, and the ham's saltiness had a riotous party in my mouth. This is a substantial meal. It's been almost two hours and I'm still full. I think I'll skip lunch today.
Back to the egg classes. I've viewed the videos, done most of the practice sessions, learned a lot, and got 100% on the quizzes but the one thing I have NOT been able to do is pan flip two fried eggs. I always break at least one of the yolks in the process. They tell you to practice and be patient but it's driving me nuts. Next weekend I'm going to buy 18 eggs and practice through the entire batch until I get it right.

Can you pan flip fried eggs? Any tips?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Country Style Pork Ribs

I think pork shoulder has an inferiority complex. Or at least an identity crisis.

First of all, the amazing "pork butt" is really the pork shoulder. Second, "country style pork ribs" really aren't ribs at all, they're from the pork shoulder too. Yet they insist on going by different names, ashamed of their true identity.

It kind of reminds me of the advice Mitch Hedberg gives turkey at the 3:50 mark in this video...

I had some of these country style IMPOSTOR pork ribs and they whispered to me that they wanted to hook up with some sweet hickory smoke.

So I rubbed them with a 2 to 1 mix of my pork chop rub (below) and black pepper.

NMT Pork Chop Dry Rub

1/4 c white sugar
1/4 c turninado sugar
1/4 c smoked paprika
2 T garlic salt
2 T kosher salt
1 t black pepper, smoked
1 t cayenne pepper
1 t cumin
1/4 t allspice
1/2 t dried thyme

Then I put them in the Big Green Egg at 275f indirect heat.
[Gas Grill Subtitle] Turn your burner(s) on one side to get a 275f temp and put the ribs on the other side.
[Oven Subtitle] Put the ribs on a raise rack in a 275f oven.
[Kung Fu Subtitle] You have defiled my family name. Cook me some ribs or I will snap your neck.

Can't you just hear the Barry White music playing while Country Style Ribs and Sweet Hickory Smoke get acquainted inside of the Egg?

While they did their thing, I made a variation of a side dish that we loved before. We added sliced baby bella mushrooms tonight but we decided it didn't really add anything to the dish so next time we'd skip the addition. Plus the quality of the green beans was seriously lacking. But subbing the chicken stock for water was a definite "must keep" addition.

Green Beans with Onion
source: adapted from Step by Step Cookbook

1 lb green beans, ends trimmed
3 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 ea white onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
4 oz tomato paste
1 cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon oregano, dried
salt and pepper to taste

Saute onions in a large pot for about 5 minutes until softened. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute more.

Whisk tomato paste and chicken stock together. Add the tomato mixture, oregano, salt, pepper and beans to the pot. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until beans are tender.

Oh yeah, back to the impostor ribs. So when the ribs hit an internal temp of about 165f, brush them lightly with your favorite BBQ sauce. Raise the cooker (Egg, grill, oven) temp to 350f and cook until the internal temp hits 175f.

Let rest for 10 minutes.

Drizzle a thinned bbq sauce over the rib and serve. This is another area where you can have fun. Most folks expect their BBQ to be drenched in a thick sweet sauce. It really doesn't need that. Go light. Thin a bit of a commercial BBQ sauce with something like balsamic vinegar, rice wine vinegar, wine, stock or beer and just drizzle it over the meat. Play around and find one that YOU like and it will become YOUR signature sauce.

The dinner was great but I totally screwed the pooch on the food styling of this shot.

The actual plate was totally wrong for the green beans, it stole the color of the tomato sauce. I should have gone with a white plate or light colored plate. Oh well, the food was good, the photography was okay and food styling comes in a distant third in priorities anyway. But I'm learning.

Speaking of BBQ....
One of my favorite blogs, Lord of the Wings, mentioned the Travel Channel's new series Food Wars. The episode he blogged about was Buffalo wing battle between Duff's and the original, Anchor Bar. It's a neat concept because they pick to juggernaut restaurants of a particular dish and place them head to head. The judging panel includes 3 neutral judges and 1 fan of each of the two establishments. So far they've done Italian beef sandwiches, buffalo wings, and fried chicken.

Well this week, Food Wars treads into the BBQ world. It puts the Texas BBQ institutions of Kreuz Market against Smitty's Market in a BBQ Thunderdome. One brisket enters, one brisket leaves. Here's a preview of the show that airs THIS Tuesday at 10 PM.

Check it out if you get a chance. The first three episodes were entertaining. Speaking of which...

Idea for the Food Network:
The Travel Channel (No Reservations, Man vs. Food, Bizarre Foods, the food Paradise series and now Food Wars), Bravo (Top Chef) and TLC (BBQ Pitmasters) are kicking your ever loving ass at "food-entertainment". Maybe you could actually get back to producing instructional shows?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Chicken Tetrazzini

Alexis found this aged and ragged cookbook several years ago in an antique store where she was buying some old farmhouse windows. She didn't buy it for use, she bought it because she thought it was adorable.

They are yellowed typewritten pages held together with two simple binder rings. Even the category tabs are typed.

I thought that the Forward reminded me of all of us food bloggers.

I've flipped through it's weathered pages once or twice but have never actually made anything from it until tonight.
Honestly that is because some of the recipes are poorly written, have imprecise measurements, and use a lot of cream of "x" soups. I haven't found anything online, but based on the recipes, I'd guess this was written sometime in the 60's to early 70's.

Chicken Tetrazzini

adapted from You Asked For It Cookbook

8 oz spaghetti noodles
2 cups chicken, cooked and diced

4 Tbsp butter

6 Tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup half and half

1/2 tsp black pepper, ground

1/2 tsp red pepper, ground

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 cup mushrooms (we used jarred mushrooms, drained)

1/2 cup frozen peas

1/4 cup red bell pepper, diced

1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

1/4 cup parmesan cheese


Cook pasta according to directions.

Melt butter over medium high heat and whisk in flour until well blended. (I did mine in the same pan that I had used to cook the chicken to get all the leftover flavor.) Whisk in the broth 1/2 cup at a time. Then whisk in the half and half. Stir in the black pepper, red pepper, and salt.

Toss the warm pasta, chicken, mushrooms, peas, and red pepper together in a casserole dish. Pour the sauce over the pasta mixture.

Top with the bread crumbs and then the parmesan cheese. Bake in a 350f oven for 30 minutes.

Three out of four of us liked this creamy dish. Trevor (10) did not like it but he's a picky eater.

Vanity Plates
You know those vanity plates some people get for their cars? I got a "vanity plate" for my Big Green Egg. Yes, you are looking into an empty Big Green Egg but they don't really glow green like that.

More on this to come after I've actually cooked on it. If you're wondering how I got this shot, I used this technique I played with on my photo blog.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Stuffed Pork Tenderlicious

Pork tenderloins are amazing. They work with almost any flavor profile and can be cooked in many different ways. One of my favorite ways is to stuff 'em and grill 'em.

One of the standards I have come to use when grilling any pork tenderloin is 6-7 minutes per side over medium high heat. To me, a tenderloin has a flat side and two round sides so that is a total of 18-21 minutes.

This is the second time we made this version that we came up with and both times it was a huge hit with everyone in the house. But basically using this process (butterfly, stuff, grill 21 min) works with any flavors you like for the stuffing.
Stuffed Pork Tenderlicious

1 ea pork tenderloin (not a pork loin, it's a pork tenderloin, about 1 lb)
3 Tablespoons pesto
1/4 cup Boursin cheese, crumbled
Salt and Pepper to taste

Butterfly the pork tenderloin (see step by step below) and pound with a meat mallet to an even 1/4" thickness.

Spread pesto evenly over the flattened meat. Top with the crumbled Boursin cheese.

Roll up, jelly roll style and tie with kitchen twine. Season liberally with salt and pepper, a lot will fall off on the grill.

Grill for 7 minutes per side (21 minutes total) over medium high heat.

Let rest for 10 minutes, snip off twine, and slice on a bias.

Start with a well thawed pork tenderloin. If it's still partially frozen when you start pounding it with a mallet, the meat fibers will break and tear instead of flattening. Lay it so the "flat side" is on the bottom. That makes it a lot easier to cut.

Using a very sharp knife, slice lengthwise carefully down to about 1/4 inch. Be careful not to cut all of the way through. I start with an initial slice at the thicker end of the loin and pull the cut open with my free hand as I keep slicing as shown. It is not one slice, it's a series of slices. Think of it as "opening it up".

Cover the top of the meat with plastic wrap and then pound the entire piece down to an even thickness.

Top with the pesto and cheese.

Rolled, tied and seasoned! (In respect to Steph and her Auburn Tigers, that last statement should not be misconstrued to mean Roll Tide.)

When it is time to grill, I like to move the coals into two banks like this and then position the tenderloin above the gap at a height of about 5 inches. That way it's getting direct heat but not directly OVER the heat. In my opinion, this gives a more even "direct heat".

Tonight we served it up with some skillet roasted potatoes and green beans. (Sorry no plated pics but it was Alexis' first dinner back home and it was 8pm on a school night at this point. Hell, I didn't even throw any garnish on the platter shot. I was hungry!)

Even though the green beans weren't in this pic, I had to mention them because they were Trevor's (10 y/0) contribution (one slice of bacon, sliced, browned and then just added a can of green beans). Simple, yes, but he is always proud to help feed the family. Plus it really helps me when I was busy finishing the other two dishes.

The drool worthy flavor let me know that the first time we made this it wasn't a fluke.

Quick Game:
You have a butterflied pork tenderloin in front of you right now and I am going to grill it for you, you just have to pick the ingredients (like an omelet station). What do you want in yours?