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Sweet Summer Flavors without the Hassles of the Grill: A Man’s Guide to Grill-Free Entertaining

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With summer fast approaching, I look at doing fun foods to entertain friends or please my family. I often think about grilling, the smokey flavors and outdoor dining experience is one I personally enjoy, however, no matter what one does, it is rather daunting to look after a grill and takes forever while chasing children or entertaining guests.

I find that I am “put off” by the process of dragging out the grill, cleaning the grill, loading the charcoal or going to get propane, gathering the grill tools, setting up tables, and more time consuming – task oriented work which makes it impossible to have fun. Grilling is time sensitive and by far one of the true measures of food preparation, cooking, timing and your ability to sit and converse with friends and family. If the weather is temperate and you have the perfect back yard, grilling can be great fun and you can get great flavors in your food, but unless you have all the marks of a master chef, you often have to get up and make sure the food, or yard is not burning down.
Pork TenderloinI have come to the conclusion that unless you’re having a major get-together and your wife is willing to help with the grilling, there are alternatives that allow you to enjoy your party, company and cooking experience.

I have been a food critic and a foodie for some time and I enjoy whipping up creations in the kitchen that has that grilled taste, but without the fuss, and if I may say so, I have been rather pleased with the results. I am going to share with you some tips on getting the “King of the Grill” raves, without the ghastly, greasy or gloomy aftermath.

For summer cooking in the kitchen, you need to have a cast iron griddle, some like the 2 side models, one side flat and one side that has “ridges” that will give food a “grilled look”. These griddles are very affordable, but they don’t sit well on gas ranges and don’t work at all on electric ranges. My choice has always been a cast iron griddle that is long enough to reach squarely over 2 burners, and I only use the ridge side, I have a gas range, so that’s that, it’s my favorite, if you have an electric range, there are electric griddles that have platforms that can swap out or flip over, fairly inexpensive and available at many outlets like Sears, Wal-Mart or Target or online at Amazon.com.

There are many cookbooks that tout “indoor grilling”, but unless you want to spend all day looking for your favorites in too many books to count, I suggest picking up one book, I feel, is the book to have in any kitchen, The Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker. The book is a great resource and supports the concept, cook what you like and you’ll love what you cook, it covers all the basics and has easy to understand rules of cooking, which for a man reads easier than an engine repair manual. Recently, The Joy of Cooking has been re-published in a 75th Anniversary edition, so it should be easy to find anywhere.

Outdoor grilling requires long, and sometimes, hard to manage tools and implements, Indoor cooking, not so much, so you can use what you have in the kitchen and the cooking is easier for the fact that Ranges have temperature control; you can time things out and spend time with your guests, not with the grill. So, we have the cooking resources, the recipe resources and the tools to do the job, go ahead and pour a drink and let’s start cooking.

Today’s recipe is:

Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with Asparagus Tips in Balsamic Dressing and Rustic Grilled Potatoes with Shallots and Chives

Ingredients:

Entrée Items

Pork Tenderloin, trimmed lean – 6lbs; should serve 8 people
2 lbs. Thick Sliced Bacon
2 bundles of Asparagus
14 Large Russet Potatoes (or Potatoes of your choice)
1 Clove of Garlic

1 Medium Size Onion
2 Shallots
1 Lemon
1 Lime
¼ Stick of butter
Olive oil of choice
Balsamic vinegar of choice

Herbs

Cilantro
Basil
Rosemary
Salt
Pepper

You will also need wooden skewers

Preparation:

  1. Take the ¼ stick of real butter and place in bowl, allow to soften, chop cilantro into fine portion and mix into butter with ½ teaspoon of each of the following herbs – basil, rosemary, salt and pepper.
  2. Chop up potatoes into quarters /cubes
  3. Chop garlic into fine portion
  4. Slice onion and shallots into very thin slices, toss together with finely chopped garlic
  5. Take asparagus and cut off bottom 2 ½ inches of stalk, this is very hard and will take too long to tender when cooking; the top part of stalk is only what you want.
  6. Take pork tenderloin and lie upon side, cut into 1 inch thick portions, should look like a “disk” when placed flat, may not be round but should be evenly cut.
  7. Lay out slice of bacon, and spread butter / herb blend on one side then roll pork tenderloin into bacon slice, wrapping the meat evenly, should be tight, but not too tight as to cause mix to squeeze out. Take 2 “rolls” and push wooden skewer, this will hold meat together while cooking. Place 2 “rolls” to each skewer, make 4 to 6 of these portions serving 4 to 6 people.
  8. Place griddle on range and turn on front and back range burners to about ½ ways, allow heating up to about 225 / 250 degrees, adding 2 tsp. of virgin olive oil to quick season pan.
  9. Place meat face down on griddle and allow to cook about 15, then flip over, repeat this process for 5 to 6 times, evenly cooking. If you have an electric griddle, increase cooking time and turn over every 20 min. Turn on oven to 325 degrees, get some good oven mitts and place griddle into oven, since you can’t put electric griddle into oven, move meat to flat cast in pan or “cookie sheet”.
  10. Take a large pot and fill ½ way with water, place a colander / strainer over opening, should work like a double boiler. Place potatoes into bottom pot and let come to boil, in colander, put asparagus and cover to steam. This should cook for 20 to 25 min, remove colander and remove potatoes from pot.
  11. Put potatoes on cooking sheet, and drizzle over olive oil over potatoes and bake for 20 min, remove cooking sheet and liberally cover potatoes with onions and shallots.
  12. While checking on tenderloin, Take lemon and lime and cut each in half and squeeze over the pork tenderloin, the juice will give the meat a crisp, citrus flavor that will work very nicely with the herbs in the bacon wrap. By this time bacon should be firm and fully cooked, if this is so, the meat is almost done.
  13. So we have the meat and potatoes in the oven now for about 20 to 25 min each, combined time about 40 to 50 min, let both sit in oven for 60 min, then turn off and let sit for 15 min. Remove meat from oven and let rest for 10 min.
  14. On serving plate, place potatoes, which should be a golden brown, place 2 tenderloin “rolls”, and asparagus, drizzle balsamic vinegar over asparagus and a little pepper for “zip”.

Like most men, I don’t have exact measurements like “Tsp.” and “Pinch”, but most men don’t, we do it by taste, which is the daring way to cook. This recipe is a great summer meal, light and fresh with great flavors. One last great thing about this recipe, it can be changed and you can add your favorite things, I suggest a side of fresh fruit like Mango, Plumb and Berries. This meal is also wonderfully paired with a summer ale or imported beer.

Try it, you’ll love it.

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About Joseph Timmons

Writer, Artist and Musician living in California. I like Music, all Music and I have a fondness for the arts. I will write about anything, but I am most prolific when it comes to Music and the Entertainment Arts. I consider myself an admirer of Fashion and Social Events. When out and about, look around, I may be there - I travel around and get in to every party !