September 2018 - The Labor Day Issue
We’re making the most of the last weeks of summer and firing up the grill every chance we get. Food always tastes better when you cook it outside. If you are skeptical about that claim, please allow me to introduce you to Grilled Zucchini Ribbon Skewers. They are simple and amazing – perfect for your end of summer party. We also have created a wonderful new variation on the bacon-wrapped pork loin roast that is filled with a flavorful apricot mustard and fresh thyme.
From all of us at Kalamazoo, we wish you a safe and festive Labor Day weekend.
Bacon-wrapped Pork Loin with Apricot Mustard and Vermouth Sauce
Fruit and pork pair together beautifully, and the apricot mustard filling in this pork loin roast is another example of how great the combination can be. And this roasted pork loin is also a prime case study for the rule that everything is better with bacon. We roll the loin with apricot mustard and fresh thyme, wrap it in a bacon weave, and then roast it on the grill for a delicious and stunning main dish.
For the roast
- 1 boneless pork loin roast, about 3 1/2 pounds, and 9 inches long
- Kosher salt
- 1/2 cup apricot preserves (we recommend Bon Maman Intense Apricot Fruit Spread)
- 1/4 cup Dijon mustard (we recommend Sir Kensington’s)
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
- 1 to 1 1/2 pounds bacon
- Butcher’s string
For the Vermouth Sauce
- 1 cup dry vermouth
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Open the pork loin roast into a flat sheet by slicing lengthwise in a zig-zag motion to fold out one layer at a time. Lay it flat, and season the top liberally with kosher salt. Stir together the apricot preserves, Dijon mustard and thyme leaves in a small bowl. Spread in a thin layer on top of the pork.
On a clean work surface or baking sheet, create a bacon weave.
Roll up the flattened pork loin with the apricot mustard in the center, and transfer it onto the bacon weave. Wrap the bacon weave around the pork loin, then tie in 4 to 6 places with lengths of butcher’s string to hold it all together. Some of the filling will likely squeeze out. If it does, spread it on top of the roast.
Prepare the grill for indirect roasting. Target temperature for the first half-hour is 400°F, lowering to 350°F for the remainder of your cooking time. Place the roast in the indirect zone, close the grill, and cook until the internal temperature reads 150 to 155°F, about 90 minutes total. Rotate the roast 180 degrees about 45 minutes through for even cooking.
Tips for using the Kalamazoo Hybrid Fire Grill
We prepared this roast using a wood fire on the K750 Hybrid. First, remove one of the three grill grates from the grill. Slide the remaining two grill grates to the center, leaving the left and right ends of the grilling area open. Place two split pieces of firewood in the drawer, one through each of the two openings. Fire up the grill with the left and right Dragon Burners on HIGH, and the ignition burner (across the front of the grill) on LOW. The center Dragon Burner will remain OFF. Preheat the grill with the lid open until the wood begins to catch and smoke. Turn the left and right Dragon Burners to LOW, and close the hood to preheat the grill for 10 minutes. Place the roast, aligned front-to-back along the seam between the two grill grates, centered between the two fires. Close the lid, adjust the top damper to halfway open, and monitor the temperature closely. If the wood fire is burning too hot, open the lid occasionally to let the heat escape, and turn off one or both Dragon Burners as needed. Keep the ignition burner ON in case you need to reignite.
Once cooked, remove the roast from the grill, cover loosely with foil, and let it rest. The final internal temperature should coast up to 160°F, which is the temperature we recommend for any rolled roast.
While the roast is resting, prepare the vermouth sauce. Reduce the vermouth to 1/2 cup in a wide pan over medium heat. This takes about 10 minutes. Stir in cream and mustard, then remove from the heat.
Slice the roast for serving, and drizzle with a little of the sauce. Serve the remaining sauce on the side.
Grilled Zucchini Ribbon Skewers
I love grilled zucchini, cooked al dente over a hot fire. It is my go-to summer vegetable to accompany grilled meats of any kind. This, however, is my new favorite method, hands-down. Thin ribbons are lightly buttered, seasoned and then coiled up on skewers, before being grilled over a hot charcoal fire. They look great and taste even better.
- 12 tablespoons butter (or extra virgin olive oil)
- 2 cloves garlic
- Freshly grated zest of 2 lemons
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
- 8 zucchini squash
- Fine gray sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped, fresh parsley leaves
- 16 bamboo skewers, soaked in water
Prepare the grill for direct grilling over a hot fire. A charcoal fire is recommended.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Crush the garlic into the butter, then stir in the lemon zest and cayenne. Remove from the heat.
Cut off and discard the stem ends of the zucchini. Slice into thin ribbons about 2mm thick. We use a Kyocera ceramic mandoline to make this task easy. I suggest proceeding with one squash at a time, working all the way through to coiling it on the skewers, before slicing the next one. It is great to have a pair of helping hands working with you.
Lay the zucchini ribbons flat on a baking sheet. Use a silicon brush to lightly brush on a little of the butter mixture (top sides of the ribbons only. Season with salt and pepper, then sprinkle on some parsley.
Working with one ribbon at a time, gently coil the ribbon into a loose ‘W’ shape and thread onto a pair of skewers. (We use pairs of skewers to lock the food orientation in place for grilling, as the zucchini is likely to spin on a single skewer.) Keep all of the ribbons on the skewer aligned so that the dark green edges are always on the top and bottom.
Repeat this process for the remaining zucchini to create 8 skewers.
Place the assembled skewers on the grill over the hot fire, with one side with the dark green edges down. Grill until browned on the edges, then turn over so the other side with the dark green edges is down. Total grilling time should be 5 to 8 minutes to get the edges browned, and the zucchinis heated through without cooking past al dente.
Remove from the grill and serve immediately.