Saturday, June 28, 2014

Grilled Pig in a Blanket

When my son the lawyer was in college and was a big aficionado of steak houses, we used to joke that his favorite restaurant was the All Meat Meat House. Well, pig in a blanket is definitely a dish that would be on the menu at the fictitious All Meat Meat House. Readers should know it has nothing to do with hot dogs wrapped in bacon, dough or any other substance. No hot dogs period.
Pig in a Blanket is a pork loin wrapped with a sheet flank steak or round steak, sliced into rounds and grilled on the barbecue. My son would have loved it. I did not cook it for him and his wife, however, but for Mary and Bill,  and Joe and Katherine, old friends of ours who came to dinner. Joe and Katherine brought their 8 year old son, Alex, who has had the good taste to grow up to be a baseball fan. He brought along his collection of baseball cards for me to admire.
This is an easy main course to prepare, except for the grilling. I always have issues with the barbecue. Like many Americans, I once assumed that more was better in the charcoal department. Just load on those briquettes and go to town.  What you get in that case is charred, leather-like meat. Then, I became a Girl Scout leader. The Girl Scouts are the repositories of much terrific information, how to put up a tent, how to make a fire, how to grow into adulthood without becoming a teen queen, but for my money, the best piece of information is, that every charcoal briquette generates 25 degrees of heat. Of course, then, you have to give the meat time to grill.
So, in theory, one can precisely set the temperature of the grill by putting in the number of briquettes multiplied by 25 that results in the temperature at which you want to cook your food. So, if you want to "set" the grill at 350 degrees, you put in 14 briquettes, because 25 X 14 = 350. Well, that doesn't take into account the time taken up with drinking beer and chatting while the charcoal burns down, so your setting is somewhere around 200 degrees by the time you actually are ready to put the meat on. That is what happened to me. I took the top off the grill and was chagrined to find my 15 or so briquettes vastly reduced in size and covered with ash.
So, throwing Girl Scout training out the window, I crumpled some newspaper and put it on top of the smoldering briquettes and tossed another handful of briquettes on top of it. Don't try this at home, boys and girls. The newspaper flared up and sent charred fragments flying through the air, but it did ignite the new briquettes. When I finally took the meat out, it was probably somewhat more rare than indicated, but no one rejected it, or got sick in the intervening days.
The guests really liked Grilled Pig in a Blanket. If you want to make it, I advise putting in 15 to 20 briquettes, watching them closely to catch the moment when they are lit, but not burned down, and putting the meat on the grill at that point. Give yourself about 45 minutes to grill the meat, checking it at intervals. Don't get wrapped up in the conversation and forget to check.  If you have a gas grill, just set it at 350 or 375 degrees. If you have a crew of meat eaters, it will be a popular dish.

Grilled Pig in a Blanket

1 length of pork tenderloin, about eleven inches long
1 thin sheet flank or round steak, about 7 by 11 inches (about three pounds)
olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper.
juice of one lemon
1/4 pound butter, melted
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
mushrooms au beurre

1. If pork tenderloin is not available, trim out the eyes of six small pork chops. If the tenderloin is used, wrap it carefully in the steak. Skewer with six skewers equally spaced. Slice between the skewers to provide six servings. Or, if the chops are used, roll each piece of meat with a length of steak trimmed to fit.
2. Place the meat on a grill over hot coals. When seared on one side, turn and brush the top of each serving with oil. Sprinkle the seared side with salt and pepper.
3. When the meat is cooked through, transfer to a hot serving platter. Squeeze half the lemon juice over meat. Squeeze the remaining juice into the butter and stir in the parsley.
4. Spoon the hot butter sauce over the meat and serve immediately. Garnish with mushrooms au beurre. Serves six.

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