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!