Sunday, June 12, 2011

Low and Slow: Smoked Pork Loin Roast and Bacon Wrapped Chopped Steaks

Mr. H used to do all the barbequing at our house until it became obvious to everyone that he seemed to burn pretty much everything. In all fairness, I’m not sure how he got roped into being the official barebquer at our house in the first place, but after 10 years or so of blackened everything and an unfortunate salmon incident, he was asked to surrender his tongs. Funny thing is, I was so worried about hurting his feelings by firing him from his post but when we finally had the “Honey your barbeque really sucks” talk he almost seemed relieved. For some reason barbequing is looked upon as such a guy thing that I was concerned about somehow emasculating him, but he took it really well and has never even acted like he wants his old job back. I think this decision liberated us all. He is now the official family fire builder and a damn good one I might add.

Some of the greatest female cooks I know that perform no less than miracles in the kitchen are often shooed away from the barbeque like they are incompetent toddlers. Then their husband, who can’t even make his own cup of coffee, is trusted to throw a $100 beef tenderloin on a roaring fire. I’m not saying that men can’t barbeque and barbeque well, what I’m saying is that we women can do it just as well. For generations in my family the ritual has always been much the same. After choosing the perfect cut of meat and lovingly rubbing it with a special blend of every herb and spice in my mother’s kitchen it would be thrown on the pit and tended to for hours by a crowd of men getting their drink on. I mean how can you go wrong with alcohol and prime meat? Well, just don’t ask my husband that question.

Female barbeque on the other hand is a quite a bit less glamorous. Since cooking is an everyday occurrence, most women don’t seem to want to break the bank when it comes to buying a piece of meat. Personally, I find it a challenge to turn a cheap cut of meat into a succulent thing of beauty in between picking my son up from practice and scrubbing the toilets. This actually works in perfectly with this lifestyle because the secret comes down to two words, low and slow. The other factors that I believe play an important part in barbeque success is mounding the coals in just the right way so that you have a hot area for browning and searing and a warm area for slow cooking, just the right amount of wood chips for that perfect smokiness, and just a tiny sprinkling of MSG. Yep, that’s my secret weapon and I make no apologies, for MSG is what makes my barbeque superior to all others and as you may have heard, all is fair in love and barbeque.

Last week we had beautiful weather here and I made the most of it by firing up my grill a couple of times. I picked up a 2.5 pound pork loin roast and 3 pounds of 80/20 ground beef all for around $10.00 and with a little finesse, managed to make a couple of inexpensive meals that were company worthy. For both I lit a chimney starter full of charcoal and soaked a couple of handfuls of hickory wood chips. When the coals were ready I mounded them slightly in the middle and thinned them out on the outside for a lower temperature for slower cooking. I sprinkled some extra coals from the bag to keep the fire going longer and then just before adding the meat I sprinkled the drained wood chips over the coals. I always sear my meat first, cook it until it is a golden brown and then I move it towards the outside to finish cooking for as long as possible, and don’t think you need a big fancy grill either. Even though I often threaten to run out and buy a sleek new stainless steel model, I never do because my grungy old beat up little charcoal kettle style grill never fails to please. This is the method that I use for most everything with the exception of steaks which I prefer grilling by searing and cooking much quicker over a high heat, but more on that in a future post.

Before I placed my pork loin roast on the hot grill, I rubbed it with a combination of paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, coriander, MSG (Accent flavor enhancer), a little salt, freshly ground black pepper and just a touch of granulated or brown sugar and set it aside while I waited on the coals. Then I placed it on the grill and seared all sides before moving it off center and slow cooking it for about another 1-1/2 hours checking it often to make sure it wasn't burning or drying out. I removed it and wrapped it in foil and let it sit for about 20 minutes before cutting and serving it. The result was a succulent and tender piece of meat that had everyone asking for seconds.

Smoked Pork Loin Roast

If you look closely you can make out a very desirable light pink smoke ring just beneath the bark on the outside of this pork loin roast. This $3.00 piece of meat turned out tender, flavorful and moist. You just can't rush it.

Bacon Wrapped Chopped Steaks

1 slice white or wheat bread, crumbled
1/4 cup milk
2 pounds 80/20 ground beef
5 teaspoons beef bouillon granules, divided
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
6 slices thin bacon
Montreal Steak Seasoning to taste

Place breadcrumbs and milk in a small bowl and set aside to soak for at least 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, place the ground beef, 3 teaspoons of the beef bouillon, pepper, garlic, onion powder and thyme. Add the breadcrumb mixture and mix well being careful not to overwork the meat which will make it tough.
Divide the meat into 6 equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball and flatten to about 1-1/2” thick. Wrap each portion in a piece of the bacon, secure with a toothpick and sprinkle each with Montreal Steak Seasoning or any other favorite to taste on both sides. Repeat with the remaining meat.

Heat a barbeque grill to very hot and oven to 300 degrees. Place the chopped steaks on the hottest part of the grill and sear on each side for approximately 5 – 8 minutes (depending on the heat of your grill) or until they are a golden brown. Move steaks toward the outside of the fire to a cooler part to slow cook. Cook until you reach the desired doneness for your taste. I cooked mine for an additional 30 minutes turning once after 15 minutes. If needed turn steaks to the side to cook bacon.

Just before the steaks are done, boil 2 cups of water. Dissolve the remaining beef bouillon in the water and pour into a large baking dish. Remove the steaks from the grill and place in the hot bouillon. Cover the dish with foil and place in the oven for approximately 15 minutes before serving or reduce the heat to 250 degrees and keep warm for up to an hour.

Place uncooked steaks in the center of the hot grill to sear.

Gently turn steaks and sear on the other side until they are golden brown.

Move seared steaks toward the outside edges of the grill to slow cook for approximately 20 minutes on each side.

Place cooked steaks in the bouillon bath, cover and bake at 325 for 15 minutes before serving or keep warm for up to an hour at 250 degrees. Serve with au jus.
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