I was trying to think of what to stuff in this mini bacon-wrapped meatloaf, and then my husband brought in a bunch of poblanos from the garden. Usually I stuff the poblanos with meat and cheese, so it was just a matter of turning the whole thing inside-out. Traditionally, you wouldn’t use bacon with stuffed poblanos, but I didn’t expect the stuffed poblano police to stop by, so I didn’t worry about it. Smoking takes time, and ground meat needs a fatty buffer, like bacon, to keep it moist during the longer cooking. It took about 2 hours to smoke to the point that a little cheese started to melt out of one end, and a thermometer registered 165º-170º in the center (of course, the center was pepper and cheese).
I only used 1 lb of ground meat for the two of us, and there were still leftovers. You’ll have to consider how much to make for your group. Usually, for example, I would use 1 lb of ground meat to make four burgers, and we would have one left over. Personally, I prefer less than a quarter pound for my burger, but I’m probably unusual. You could make several of these rolls for a larger group of people. I cut our one roll into six thick slices.
I made a woven mat of bacon to wrap the filled meatloaf in, using my favorite local thick-sliced bacon. It’s very thick and so you can’t stretch it like the typical thin commercial bacon. I made the mat 6 strips wide, but had to add partial pieces into the weaving to make it fully woven. I’m not sure you can see those half pieces in the photo. After wrapping the roll, I sealed the edges with another strip and put that side of the roll down on the grill grate. I didn’t worry about having beautiful ends, but I did pinch the rolled meat together to hold in the cheese for as long as possible. I wrapped it all tightly in plastic and refrigerated it for about an hour to try to convince it to stay in that nice loaf shape. The lesson here is this: Don’t fret about the appearance too much. Just take your time and keep handling it until it all seems to hold together. Believe me, the gorgeous smoked bacon on the outside and the gooey cheese on the inside will overpower any construction flaws.
meat filling mix
Peel and seed peppers
Filling and bacon mat
About half way through
Center of finished roll
Inside-Out Stuffed Poblanos. Smoked. With Bacon.
- 1/2 lb ground beef, 93% lean
- 1/2 lb ground pork
- 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and cut in small dice
- 1 tablespoon garlic, mashed or grated
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ancho pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- 2 poblano peppers, roasted, peeled, and seeded
- 2 long 1/2″ wide sticks of Monterrey Jack cheese, each about the length of your meat roll (it doesn’t matter if you have to use smaller pieces)
- 1 pkg thick-sliced bacon, at least 12 strips
- On a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper, make a mat of woven bacon, about 6 strips wide and using as many pieces as you need to weave in the opposite direction. If you make it too big, you can always remove pieces, as needed. Set aside.
- Mix the first eleven ingredients together in a large bowl—meat, breadcrumbs, tomatoes, and spices. Form the meat into a log about the length of your bacon mat, then pat it out on a piece of plastic wrap to make a square. It was easy enough to pat it out with my hands, but I’ve seen videos of people using rolling pins and even large plastic bags. Just make it even and squared off at the corners so you don’t end up with a football shape.
- Lay out sections of poblano peppers to fit the meat, but don’t worry about getting them out to the ends, because you want to pinch them together after rolling.
- Lay sticks of cheese on top of the peppers lengthwise and far enough apart that you can roll them up in the meat. But this isn’t rocket science—fill the roll as full as you like with as much as you can cram in there.
- Roll up the meat, using the plastic wrap to help you. Roll rather tightly and firmly, using pressure from your hands to mold and keep it all together. Pinch the ends together to cover the filling and pat the ends kind of flat so you have a neat cylinder.
- Set the meat roll on the mat of bacon and use the plastic wrap to bring the bacon up the sides—if you’re lucky the bacon will meet or come close to meeting and you can weave in a last piece to hold it together. Wrap the whole thing in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for about an hour. Bring it out about 30 minutes before the grill is ready, but leave in the plastic wrap.
- Set up the grill for slow, indirect heat with a 2 X 2 charcoal snake and a few handfuls of wood chips scattered over it. When your starter coals are ready and you’ve started the snake, set the roll on the cooking grate above a drip pan and close the grill. Cook and smoke for about 1 1/2-2 hours. The bacon should be browned and glossy with crispy areas, and the center will probably reach at least 165º, but keep in mind that you are measuring melted cheese in the center.
- Remove to a cutting board; let rest for a few minutes; then cut in thick slices.
I ended up burning only 1/3 of my charcoal snake, so today, I’m smoking some ribs with the remainder.
Especially when you have to run back and forth to the kitchen to tend to things on the stove—note to self: move the patio door—you can help yourself by having all your grilling items available and organized. I used to keep most of the stuff in the little room that leads to the patio, but, darn, those patio sliding doors are heavy and annoying to open and close 25 times during one meal prep.
So, two years ago, I bought a folding prep table, and then re-purposed a big 25 gallon Rubbermaid® Roughneck™ storage box to hold the charcoal. I don’t just throw a bag of charcoal in the box or store a large bag in it, though. When I get a new bag, I divvy it up in 50-briquette paper bags, enough for a typical quick grilling of burgers and veggies. If I need something for long cooking, like a charcoal snake for a whole chicken or ribs, I can use two bags. For anything in between, I keep one bag to steal from. That means I seldom have to deal with those heavy charcoal bags, and I always know how far one bag will go. I get about 6-7 bags of 50 briquettes from a 15 lb bag, and I usually divide two of those bags at one time. I think a lot of people waste coals by just pouring from the bag. Fifty to 60 briquettes is a typical amount to put in the chimney I use to start the fires—I keep the cooled chimney in the box, too.
Tip: Wear plastic gloves when filling the bags of charcoal 😉
That helped some, but didn’t help with all the cooking tools, heavy cast-iron or oversized pans, and cleaning supplies. So this year, I splurged on a Keter storage/prep station with a nice stainless steel top. It was easy to put together, as most of the sturdy resin pieces just snap together, and it holds everything I need.
I still wish the kitchen were closer to the patio, though.
Here’s a quick and versatile way to grill a pork tenderloin. I’m marinating mine in teriyaki sauce—not the sticky stuff in a bottle—and then serving it with brown rice noodles, but you could marinate it or baste it with any flavors you have in mind. The 1″ thick slices are skewered on two long metal skewers (to keep the slices from spinning) and quickly grilled over direct heat. The meat chunks could be further cut after grilling—sliced or pulled—or served in the large chunks, depending on how you want to eat them. I sliced the large chunks in half, just to make them easier to eat. I had some roasted bell peppers in the freezer that I heated and sliced, and I grilled a few onions to complete the dish.
I made the traditional teriyaki sauce without any extra sugar. There is plenty of sugar in the mirin, a sweetened rice wine. I’ve always disliked what has passed for teriyaki sauce, even before I got diabetes, because it was just too sweet for my taste, kind of like those bottled barbecue sauces that hide the flavor of grilled meats. Traditional teriyaki has just the right sweetness to complement whatever meat you use it with. I did add garlic and ginger to the sauce, which some purists might object to, but we like those flavors very much, and the three basics in the sauce—soy sauce, mirin, and sake—held their own just fine.
Remember not to throw out the marinade, but to boil it for a few minutes to serve as the final sauce.
Grilled Teriyaki Pork Tenderloin
Allow several hours for marinating the pork tenderloin chunks, plus time to set up the grill.
- 2 oz (1/4 cup) soy sauce
- 2 oz (1/4 cup) mirin
- 2 oz (1/4 cup) sake
- 1 tablespoon grated garlic
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 1 pork tenderloin, sliced in 1″ thick slices
- Mix the teriyaki ingredients and place in a large zip top bag with the pork tenderloin slices. Marinate for about 2-4 hours.
- Lift out meat slices and pour remaining marinade in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 3 minutes. You could cook it longer to reduce it for a glaze, but I wanted to use it as a sauce for the meat, vegetables, and noodles.
- Skewer the meat slices on two metal skewers to keep the slices from spinning as you turn it on the grill. It will kind of look like you have reconstructed the tenderloin on the skewers. You don’t need to have space between the slices, but you could if you want them browned on all sides, in which case you might want to use more skewers.
- Set up the grill for medium-high direct heat, about 400°.
- Oil the cooking grate and grill the skewered pork on all sides until nicely browned. We eat our tenderloins a little pink, but you can cook them as long as you desire. Remove the cooked meat to a platter and rest, covered, for a few minutes before serving.
I christened the Weber® Wok I got at the end of last season’s grilling period with beef and broccoli. Good choice. It was really quick and really good. In hindsight, I would make one significant change to how I cooked the beef, because the grill cooks so much hotter than the indoor stovetop. I’ll add a note in the recipe on how to do that better.
Toss all with marinade
Whether you’re cooking such a dish indoors or on the grill, having all the ingredients ready and at hand is important, so that nothing is overcooked while you’re fumbling for the next ingredient. I used marinated flank steak strips for the beef, but you could also use skirt steak or sirloin. I forgot to weigh or measure the mushrooms and broccoli, but have a pretty good idea of how much I used.
I chose to cook the vegetables first, so they wouldn’t cause the meat to be overdone as the broccoli cooked. When the meat was done (in a virtual minute) the vegetables were just tossed back in to reheat with the remaining sauce.
Beef and Broccoli on the Grill
- 1/2-3/4 lb flank steak cut across grain in thin strips
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar (unsweetened)
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon garlic paste
- 1 tablespoon ginger paste
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch (see note about marinade)
- 1/2 cup water
- 4-8 tablespoons vegetable oil, depending on the vegetables you use
- 3-4 cups broccoli florets (if you use stems, plan for longer cooking)
- 2 cups shiitake mushroom caps, sliced
- salt & pepper
- cooked rice for serving (I used brown basmati)
- Marinate the beef strips for 2-4 hours in the next 6 ingredients—soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, garlic, ginger. *Note about marinade: Usually, I like to have the cornstarch in the marinade, which thickens quickly on cooking, but the grill was too blazing hot for that and I think some of the cornstarch burned off right away. I’m suggesting instead that the cornstarch be added to the 1/2 cup water and added after the meat is cooked and the vegetables are tossed back in.
- Prepare grill for direct heat at about 400° using about 60 briquettes in a chimney starter. Spread the ash-covered coals in the center of the grill under the cooking grate no more than two coals high, so they don’t actually touch the bottom of the wok.
- Place the wok in the grill, close the cover, and heat the grill and wok to about 400°. The bottom of the Weber® Wok, a cast iron wok, sits below the grill grate; if you are using a wok of a different material and/or that sits on top of the grate, your cooking times may differ.
- Mushrooms: pour 2 tablespoons oil in the wok, then add the sliced mushrooms and toss for a few minutes. Mushrooms will soak up oil, as you probably know, so you’ll need more for the broccoli.
- Broccoli: pour in up to 2 more tablespoons oil into the wok and add broccoli florets. Toss for a few minutes, then close the grill cover for a 2-3 minutes to cook through. Alternatively, you could place a large lid on the wok itself.
- Scoop out the vegetables and set aside. Wipe out the wok with paper towels, if needed.
- Beef: Add another two tablespoons oil to the wok and allow the grill to reheat. Add the meat and marinade and spread out the meat to cook for 2-3 minutes. Alternately, you could strain the meat and marinade, adding only the meat first and the marinade after it is done.
- Toss in the vegetables and the 1/2 cup water and cornstarch (and the strained marinade if you did that). Toss until the sauce is thickened, which is almost instantaneous.
- Remove to serving bowl and serve over rice.
Don’t leave your wok on the hot grill to burn; remove it to a heatproof space to cool to make cleaning a little easier. I cleaned mine with warm water and kosher salt.