500th Post: Pork Tenderloin on the Big Green Egg

Posted by JohnGL

I was all comfy in my bed, the idiot box tuned to H2, a channel specifically designed to prep one’s brain for sleepy-time. Hearing Peter Weller’s voice, I thought I was dreaming. The lid of one of my freshly-diagnosed astigmatic and presbyopic eyes opened a bit; this wasn’t showing 5342 of RoboCop or Buckaroo Bonsai, Weller was standing on the side of what he said was a dam in Egypt built thousands of years ago. At least that is what I thought he said. No water — liquid, frozen, or vapor — was within miles of this Martian landscape.

I would have killed to have Weller as a history instructor in college.

Interrupting my thoughts of higher education, my Samsung Galaxy S3 issued a soft ting ting, the “Temple Bell” ringtone that indicates I have a text message. I look at my phone in utter disbelief:

Cooked a pork tenderloin tonight, marinated for an hour and a half, very well cooked (white but juicy), but it seemed like the flavor didn’t take, and it was kinda bland. Used an Ina Garten recipe, but just didn’t get the deep flavor like you got. Thoughts on where I might have gone wrong?

“Where did you go wrong? Where do I start? And why do you feel you need this information at 11:10pm on a Sunday night?” I ask myself rhetorically. “What am I, the food emergency hotline?”

Even at this hour, or perhaps because of the hour, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida runs through my sleepy head. It happens every time I hear the words Ina Garten. Weller, unabated, continued his monologue about Menes and the 49 foot tall dam he built around Memphis.

Ina Garten’s  gotta dam in Memphis, bay-bee. Why not 50 feet? Helluva dam, regardless.

Enough of the bedtime stories.

Big Green Egg Pork Tenderloin -- the Alcoholian

This, dear reader (I assume there is only one of you at this point), is a properly cooked pork tenderloin. It isn’t white. It’s pink-ish.

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Big Green Egg: Hickory Smoked Brisket and Turkey Breast

Posted by johngl

In preparation for Vaca y Vino, a whole-steer Argentine inspired grilling adventure being put on by a few Austin chefs in the picturesque Wimberley, TX area later today, I decided to have my own, yet considerably smaller-scale, meat-laden adventure using my Big Green Egg.

Brisket and Turkey Breast (half)

That’s roughly 10.5 pounds of beef and just over two pounds of turkey breast; nowhere near the 800 pounds of cow that is already on the grill for the Vaca y Vino event.

Vaca y Vino: Entire Steer

Of course, I don’t need a pit half the size of my back yard either!

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Sous Vide/Big Green Egg Choice-Grade Brisket and Anasazi Beans

Posted by johngl

Not being one who’s easily satisfied, I’m always looking for new and different ways of doing things. Sometimes they even turn out to be better ways of doing things. I may be onto something here.

The brisket below spent roughly 48 hours in a 135°F sous vide hot tub and then another seven hours smoking away in my extra large Big Green Egg at 200°F.

Holy crap, dude!

48 hour sous vide and 7 hour smoked brisket

I get a lot of whining: This takes too long! I don’t have that kind of time! I don’t have a $1500 Big Green Egg and an immersion circulator!

Okay, so you may have me on the latter though my “immersion circulator” cost me less than $200 and you can use a $90 Weber Kettle and do the same kind of thing. Time-wise, I literally spent less than an hour “tending” the meat. This included rinsing, trimming, seasoning, bagging, unbagging, firing up the egg, and moving the meat out to the smoker. That hour was spread over three days.

Stop whining already. I’ve done the heavy lifting for you. All you have to do is give it a whirl.

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Big Green Egg: Paella!

Posted by johngl

I’ve had my extra-large Big Green Egg for about a year and it kind of surprises me that I hadn’t considered using it for paella. With its tight seals and absolute temperature control, I thought it would make things go quite smoothly, and, for once, I turned out to be right!

Big Green Egg: Paella!

That’s an 18″ diameter paella pan in there; my Egg was just the right size to clear the handles.

Let’s step back for a few minutes so I can show you how I got to this point. There are a few things that must be done to make an acceptable paella.

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Big Green Egg: St. Louis Cut BBQ’d Ribs

Posted by johngl

One of my secret “guilty” pleasures is reading through my annual compendiums (1993-2011) of Cook’s Illustrated magazines put out by the good folks at America’s Test Kitchen. What attracts me to these folks’ publications is the total lack of advertizing. And, more importantly, these folks actually cook! They test things ad nauseum and while I’ve found them (absolutely) wrong on occasion (e.g. when to salt beef), they eventually see the error in their ways and aren’t afraid to admit it. In the nearly 20 years I’ve been reading these things — and I do read them cover to cover — I’ve grown to trust them. So, when the same folks started Cook’s Country a couple of years ago, I bit. In my 2011 compendium of Cook’s Country, in the June/July issue, I found, in the Cooking Class section, the rather bold statement: How to Barbecue Ribs. Well, firstly, I totally disagree with the way they spelled barbeque. It isn’t abbreviated BBC, it’s BBQ. But who am I to nitpick?

Secondly, that’s a pretty bold statement: How to Cook Ribs. I like bold and direct statements, so I decided I’d give it a whirl.

St. Louis Cut Barbeque Ribs

These are St. Louis Cut Spareribs. I’d never used them as I lean in favor of baby backs. Yes, these SLCs were even recommended in the article. I actually managed to follow their first instruction.

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Celebration In Rack of Pork: Smoked and Pan Fried

Posted by johngl

I’m gonna warn you ahead of time: this post contains digressions. If you are looking for a recipe for smoked rack of pork, you may want to go elsewhere. On the other hand, if you are more into real life adventures, you may just want to hang out and stay a while.

Firstly, the celebration part of this has to do with my dining room.  Most glorious spousal unit and I came up with a design for 1) extra storage space, 2) a serving bar, and 3) something that looked cooler than a blank wall. This idea was four years in the making and began with this pencil on graph-paper sketch circa 2007:

Dining Room Cabinets On Graph Paper

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Big Green Egg: Hawaiian ‘Kalua’ Pork

Posted by johngl

Yeah, I know, it has been a long while since I’ve posted anything let alone something that really had some substance to it.  You see, my most glorious spousal unit and I have recently returned from a two-week stint in the archipelago of Hawai’i. We extensively covered four islands: Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the “Big Island”, spending several days on each island.  We also cruised between Molokai and Lanai on the way from Oahu to Maui. In other words, we pretty thoroughly covered the last state in my quest to visit all 50 of our United States.

The "Grand Canyon" of Kauai

The shot above is probably something you are not used to seeing when perusing photos from Hawaii.  This is what is called the “Grand Canyon” of Kauai and is located just inside of the Na’pali Coast, a 15 mile stretch of wonder that was created when about a mile’s worth of island fell into the Pacific.  The valleys here are easily 3000 feet deep and can be accessed only by aircraft, watercraft, or via hiking trails. The variety of colors here are simply amazing.

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Rabbit Cassoulet

Posted by johngl

When you’ve got some rabbit confit just sitting in the fridge not doing anything, you know it’s time to get that bunny in gear. Couple that with Spanish chorizo, caramelized onion, roasted garlic, hand made sausage, and most glorious pressure-cooked cannellini beans and you’ve got all the fixins for a tasty cassoulet.

Wonderful Rabbit Cassoulet

The fact that I used the awesome power of my Big Green Egg to cook this glorious casserole is incidental, yet more than a bit unusual.  For the longest time, I thought I needed another oven in the house. I guess not.

Hey!  I just figured out a way to fully amortize the Egg all at once!  W00t! It saved me a kitchen remodel!

Let’s get started on that cassoulet!

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Third Annual 4th of July Paella (& Pizza!) Fest

Posted by johngl

I was having so much fun cooking last weekend, I neglected writing about it.  I guess I must enjoy cooking more than writing. Perhaps I enjoy eating more than cooking. I’ll have to think on that one some more…

Anyway, it’s always about 100°F (or hotter) here in Austin around the Fourth holiday and my friend BigDMcC and I somehow decided it was a good idea to stand around a fire pit and cook paella. This was our third official Fourth of July Paella Fest. If that weren’t enough, pizza found it’s way on the menu for lunch: one must keep up their strength when setting out to cook paella.

Prosciutto, Arugula, and Cheese Pizza

Cute little tomatoes, eh? Those are actually supposed to be that orange color — these aren’t unripe Texas 200’s — and I think I will just call them acid bombs. Adding these to my prosciutto, arugula, and cheese pizza recipe was BigDMcC’s idea.  He likes to change things up when I’m not paying attention.  Such is the nature of our friendship.

We’d been sampling this pizza about 20 minutes earlier:

Previous Pizza

I’m still working on finding that perfect pizza-stone temperature: I’ve tried 425°, 450°, 525°, 625°, and that foray into the 725° range that I spoke of in an earlier post. I’m now throwing in measuring air temp.  The pizza above was cooked on 425°F tiles with air temps in the 700° range. It took between 4 and 5 minutes to cook.

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