Archive | December 2011

Fall Feast in Late December

After over-eating all through Christmas, I took a two day break at the end of last week.  Two days were enough.  With New Year’s weekend upon us, I ramped up for a big weekend of grilling.

I wanted to do something new for dinner Friday night.  Inspired by Griffin’s Grub, I settled on pork tenderloin.  I decided on candied butternut squash for a side dish.  Mrs. Esquire chipped in for dessert with some sort of apple bake concoction.  Don’t ask her for the recipe – she just makes stuff up as she goes.

For the pork, I used a light commercial rub with onion, ginger, hickory, and mustard flavors.  The rub was definitely subtle – maybe even a little too subtle.

After rubbing down the pork, I started prepping the butternut squash.  You may have picked up on the fact that I like to cook cubed vegetables in my redware.  I used this same method for the squash.  It turns out great, but raw butternut squash is a pain to skin and slice!

I sprinkled the cubed squash with cinnamon and drizzled some olive oil.

With the food all prepped, it was time to think process.  When I think pork, I always think indirect grilling.  This goes back to my weber kettle days.  I was interested to see that Griffin’s Grub cooked his pork tenderloin over direct heat.  He had a great result.

I decided to follow my instincts and grill my pork tenderloin over indirect heat.  My decision was partly influenced by my desire to cook my squash and dessert over indirect heat.  I hoped my cast iron grill would provide a good sear.

You can see that I got a little sear on the pork.  Not as much as I would have liked, though.  I seared the tenderloin about five minutes on each side and grilled it for a little over 20 minutes total, with the temperature hovering between 400 and 425.  The combination of the subtle, sugarless rub and the indirect cook left me with a tasty, but lilly-white, pork tenderloin.

The squash took a little longer than the pork – about 40 minutes total.  I added some brown sugar about 25 minutes in.  Adding the sugar late prevents burning and gives you the right amount of candied goodness.

The mystery apple dessert joined the squash on the grill.

Before starting the pork and squash, I threw some wood chips on the grill. I stole this tip from Griffin – I don’t usually use chips on a hot cook.  It worked out great for this meal.  I have noticed, however, that some vegetables really seem to pick up the smoke flavor, even more than meat.  I grilled quite a bit of zucchini this summer  – that vegetable really loves smoke.  In this cook, my squash really had a nice smokey flavor.

Here are the final products!

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Potato Skins

I often end up with piles of small potatoes from our C.S.A.  I alternate between making homemade chips in the oven and home fries in the redware on the grill.  Last night, I decided to try something new with the potatoes: potato skins.  A nice little appetizer to share with friends on a Saturday night.

I started by tossing the potatoes in olive oil and seasoning with black pepper, white pepper, and sea salt.

Then I set the Big Green Egg for indirect grilling and warmed it up to 450.  I grilled the potatoes for about 35 minutes.  I could have pulled them a little sooner – my temperature crept up to 500 and I left them on five minutes longer than I wanted.

While the potatoes were cooking I shredded some cheese and chopped up chives from the garden and some leftover Double Smoked Ham.  Funny story here – I was brainstorming with Mrs. Esquire about what toppings to use in the potato skins.  We decided that bacon would be good.  But we didn’t have any bacon in the house and I didn’t want to run to the store.  So we hemmed and hawed for a little bit . . . then we remembered that we had the leftover ham in the freezer!  So of course you don’t need to double smoke a ham before you can make these potato skins.  I’m sure bacon would work fine.  But the ham was really good in the potato skins.

Next, I sliced the potatoes in half and scooped out the centers with a melon baller.  I filled the skins with the ham then sprinkled cheese and chives on top.  I cooked them in a 350 degree oven for about ten minutes.

I would have liked to finish them on the Big Green Egg but circumstances prevented that.  Next time I will try finishing them on the BGE.  I do worry, however, that finishing them on the BGE will make the skins a little soggy.  By finishing them in the oven you’re guaranteed a nice, crispy skin.

Here’s the finished product:

Recipe Recap

Toss small potatoes with olive oil, white pepper, freshly ground black pepper, and sea salt.   Bring Big Green Egg to 450 degrees, set for indirect cooking.  Grill potatoes for 30 minutes, flipping once.

Allow potatoes to cool slightly.  Slice potatoes in half and scoop out a portion of the centers with a melon baller.  Fill with chopped ham or bacon.  Top with cheese and chives.  Cook in 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted.  Serve with sour cream.

Double Smoked Ham

My Big Green Egg has missed me over the last few weeks!  Sorry for the radio silence here on the blog.  But I came back with a bang last weekend.

We entertained a crowd Saturday night.  The centerpiece of the evening was a Double Smoked Ham.

I settled on the double smoked ham after spending hours scouring the internet for inspiration.  I wanted a non-poultry solution for feeding the masses.  The double smoked ham caught my eye as unique and flavorful dish.  It’s also relatively low stress.  Since the ham is already cooked before you start, you don’t have to worry about killing anyone by undercooking.  I like the freedom to err on the side of moist and tender when cooking for a large group.

The basic concept is simple.  You start with a pre-smoked ham.  You inject it to increase moisture then smoke it for about five hours, glazing it at the end to finish it off.  My method and recipe was adapted from Dr. Chicken’s method (Google it, everyone seems to repost this same recipe).

I bought a full-sized ham with the shank.  I’ve become a big believer in buying the “whole cut.”  I always get a full pork shoulder rather than a partial cut.  With my under-educated eye I worry that I’m ending up with an inferior portion of the cut if I don’t buy the whole thing.

I sliced the thick skin to allow for better smoke penetration.  I left the underside alone.  Next came the fun part – my first foray into injections.

(Yes, even in December I sometimes have to strip down a little when I’m grilling hard.  It is California, after all!)

The recipe for the injection is below.  I made a single recipe of the injection.  It seemed to be the right amount for my 21 pound ham.  Dr. Chicken suggests wrapping the ham in plastic wrap prior to injecting.  I didn’t do that for two reasons.  First, I was worried about punching the plastic deep into the ham.  Second, I didn’t see the point.  The ham will be sitting on the grill for hours, leaking away, right?  In the end I did place foil under the ham.  Maybe I’ll do that from the start next time.

I placed a drip pan filled with orange juice and water under the ham.  After prepping the grill for smoking at 225, I loaded the ham onto the Big Green Egg.

Incidentally, I had to place the ham directly on the grill – it was too big to use the rack!

The ham smoked away contentedly until it reached an internal temperature of 120 degrees.  Then I applied the first layer of glaze.

I was surprised to see how much the meat swelled under the skin.  What would have happened if I hadn’t slit the skin?!?  I also wonder whether I should have placed the meat skin down to retain even more moisture.  That probably would have prevented smoke penetration, though.  In the end I’m happy with my method.  I simply carved off the top layer of skin and fat prior to serving.

But I digress.  As noted above, I applied the first glaze at 120 degrees internal.  I applied another layer when the meat reached 127.  I pulled the ham at 135 degrees and wrapped it immediately in a double layer of heavy-duty foil.  The ham sat for about an hour before I carved it.  During that time it should have risen above 140 degrees internal temperature.

I was really happy with the final product – and so were our guests.  Of course I didn’t get any pictures as I carved.  It’s too hard to pull out the camera when the game is on the line.  But here’s a shot of our leftovers.

The method gets it done, but the flavor comes from Dr. Chicken’s injection and glaze.  Here’s my slightly modified version.

Recipe Recap

Injection

1 cup water, 1 cup light Karo syrup, 1/8 cup plus 2 tbsp amaretto, 1 tbsp rum extract, 2 tbsp vanilla extract, 1 tbsp orange juice concentrate

Heat water, Karo syrup, and amaretto over low heat.  Stir frequently to avoid scortching.  Add remaining ingredients and heat until uniform in color.  Remove from heat and allow to cool to almost room temperature.  Inject in a grid pattern throughout the ham.

Glaze

1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup grade B maple syrup, 1/4 cup honey, 2 tbsp cider vinegar, 2 tbsp worcestershire sauce, 2 tbsp instant coffee granules, 1 tbsp dry ground mustard, 2 tbsp orange juice concentrate

Blend all ingredients in a sauce pan over low heat until well combined.  Prepare immediately prior to use.