Sunday, June 10, 2012

This one is for you, Andy. Pork on pork action, stuffed with cheese. I hope this makes you proud!

Many of my fellow students are living on student loans alone, which is tough. Thankfully, my wife is gainfully employed (with great benefits to boot) which means that, while some aspects of our life resemble that of a broke graduate student's, we are afforded some luxuries. And, what does luxury mean to us? Costco: the western hemisphere's shining temple of bulk savings, with the modern gilding of naked cantilevered I-beams and glossy concrete floors, where wild fork-lifts roam and the worshipers wait patiently for the sample lady and then for the validating highlighter mark before returning to the harsh world.

Today, during our bi-monthly trek to pay our respects we came home with a pork sirloin tip roast, which is what tonight's meal will feature. In general, I prefer to cook cuts of meat on the grill, but certainly a pork sirloin tip roast does not demand a grill (perhaps, like a beef sirloin steak might) but since the temperature today was in the mid-nineties, grilling it will be.

Since I'm dealing with a nerf football sized chunk of meat, I'm going to take some special precautions with the barbecue's setup, the most important of them being piling up the briquettes on one side, while the meat sits on the opposite side. This will help provide a more even cook, with non-direct heat.

At first, I contemplated butterfly cutting the pork and then stuffing it, however, upon further review, I had no twine available. So, I just took a knife and tried to make slices down through the center, which seemed to work well. My stuffing consists of: 2 slices of smoked gouda, fresh basil (from the garden) and fresh rosemary with nearly 4 tablespoons of chopped garlic. I also added 3 slices of thick sliced apple wood smoked bacon. I managed to get it all in.

The pork is almost ready to grill. I wasn't initially planning on doing this, but with a pan full of hot and tasty bacon grease I decided to use that instead of olive oil for my wet rub base. So, I added about 2 tablespoons of garlic, along with a generous pinch of basil and rosemary to the grease and smeared it all over the pork. Now it is ready to go.

A rough estimate for the pork is 20 minutes per pound, and this roast was a little over two pounds. Halfway through the grilling process, I use the rest of the bacon grease and friends, after all, I don't want to rely on a mere three slices of bacon to maintain (and the quarter cup of bacon grease) the bacon-ness of a bacon stuffed pork roast.

The local Trader Joes  has had great local corn for the past few weeks, so I was looking forward to grilling some corn on the cob. Unfortunately, we are not only out of twine, but tin foil as well. Even though putting the corn in the foil with butter and salt and pepper is my favored way of cooking corn. Tonight, I considered keeping the husk on, but I decided to just grill it naked, add butter and seasoning afterward. The corn definitely was not the star of this meal, but my wife and I both ate it.

Now, final verdict from the wife: "A different cheese, such as swiss would be better next time. A wrap of bacon around the outside would be better than stuffing it. However, I would have still stuffed the inside with the garlic, herbs and cheese. Nevertheless, it was very delicious and I ate all that I was given."

Of course, those that know me will not be surprised at all that I am my harshest critic. I won't make this exact dish ever again. I like all the components, and will incorporate all the elements, in some way, only not in this incarnation. The largest issue, in my mind, is that I used raw garlic, and too much of it. I was seriously considering roasting garlic cloves in olive oil in the oven and using that instead of raw chopped garlic, and now, I wish I had. I also agree with my wife that a harder cheese, such as swiss or even provolone would have been a better choice. I also wish that I would have ensured that I had serviceable twine, so I could have properly stuffed the meat. As it stood, I did think that I did a good job making sure that the stuffing was in a good position to be in every slice of meat.

I would like to start pairing wine, or beer with my meals, but since I'm currently training for a half-marathon I'm drinking very little. However, an ice cold glass of water (no ice) complemented this dish well.

Overall grade: B-

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