Category Archives: Grilling

Grilled, Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf

So one way not to cook so many hamburgers on the grill is to smush all the ground beef into a meatloaf, right?

There is a lot of inspiration on the web for wrapping rolls of meat in bacon and then slow-cooking or smoking the roll on the grill. I get a lot of that inspiration from Tony Meets Meat (obviously contains meat recipes!), although I didn’t really want to stuff the meatloaf, and stuffing seems to be a popular meme for meat rolls on the web. Usually the rolls are stuffed with more meat, but don’t think turducken. There are also some good ideas for grilling a meatloaf without a stuffing, most of them, as well as the aforementioned meat rolls, using a woven mat of bacon to hold it all together. The bacon weave is a great idea, not just for the flavor but for how it keeps the meat inside basted throughout a long cooking.

I used the snake charcoal method and cooked the loaf for 3 hours at about 250°-300°. The internal temperature at the end was about 177° and it was not overdone. The meatloaf was terrifically juicy throughout and the bacon had a moist, chewy texture. I put the loaf on a narrow strip of foil, which doubled as a lifter, so the bacon on the bottom was not browned, but it melted in your mouth. It was another Wow! meal. I have made bacon-wrapped meatloaves in the oven many times, but the bacon dries out too much. Not so on the grill.

Grilled, Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf

  • Servings: 1 loaf; about 10 thick slices
  • Difficulty: easy
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Set up grill for indirect cooking—this could be a half and half setup  or the snake method. Either way, you want to be able to keep the heat at medium to medium low for a long time. If you use the half and half method, don’t put your hood thermometer over the coals.

3 lbs 80% lean ground chuck

1/2 cup dry bread crumbs

1/4 cup ketchup

2 eggs

1/4-1/2 cup evaporated milk

1/2 cup celery with leaves, finely chopped

1 red bell pepper, finely chopped

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon celery seed

1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

22 oz package thick-sliced bacon

  1. Mix first 11 ingredients by hand in large bowl, adding enough evaporated milk to achieve a moist mix that will hold together in a loaf shape.
  2. Weave your slices of bacon into a square or rectangular mat as long as you want the loaf to be. As you can see in posts all over the web, it helps to make this on parchment paper or plastic wrap, which will help you roll it up. I kept out about three slices of bacon, because my 3 pound loaf was large in diameter, too large for one slice of bacon to go around. I laid the extra slices lengthwise across the loaf, and then brought the woven mat up the sides and slightly over those strips. The roll was then rolled over so the extra strips and ends were on the bottom. I kept the roll wrapped in plastic wrap in the fridge until the grill was ready. Here is a good image of the bacon weave:
  3. You could place the loaf directly on the grill, but I put a narrow strip of foil under it, which worked as a lifter, making moving the loaf on and off the grill easy. It also meant I didn’t need to secure the bottom pieces and ends of the bacon with toothpicks.
  4. Grill over a drip pan (or one you improvise with foil, like I did) for about 3 hours at 250°-300° or until the internal temperature reaches 165°. Enjoy your 3 hours of doing nothing.

Pound Cake with Grilled Peach Compote

This is the basic pound cake recipe from Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio (2009) 61-62, which he notes could become a sponge cake if the ingredients are mixed in a different order. How cool is that? Just working together the same ingredients differently creates a different texture. It’s mostly a matter of whether you cream the butter and sugar together first or whip the eggs and sugar together first. I’m doing the former, which produces a pound cake. The only alteration I made to the recipe was to leave out the lemon-lime flavorings.

Since we’ve got a lot of pulled pork left from yesterday’s Dutch oven adventure, there’s not much dinner prep to serve it in tortillas with some of that cilantro pesto I saved in the freezer. So, I’m putting my effort into the dessert—grilling peaches. After grilling, which cooks the fruit a little, making a compote will be just a matter of heating some honey and vanilla, and then slicing and stirring in the grilled peaches. I was a little impatient about getting good grill marks on the peaches, although I’m sure some food photographers draw them in with markers, but the taste result was exceptional.

Pound Cake with Grilled Peach Compote

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Pound Cake, adapted from Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio (2009), 61-62.

Preheat oven to 325°; butter a 9 inch loaf pan.

*Note that I weighed the ingredients for this recipe.

8 oz butter (2 sticks), room temperature

8 oz sugar

1 teaspoon salt

8 oz eggs (it took 5 of my large eggs to make 8 oz)

1 teaspoon vanilla

8 oz all-purpose flour

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip butter for a minute.
  2. Add the sugar and salt and beat until very light in color, 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated. Add the vanilla.
  4. Add the flour, mixing at a low speed, until incorporated. Scrape the sides of the bowl.
  5. Pour  and spread batter into buttered loaf pan.
  6. Bake at 325° for 1 hour. Test the center with a toothpick. Mine was done in the hour.

Grilled Peach Compote

4 ripe peaches, halved and pitted

melted butter, for brushing both sides of fruit

1/4 cup honey

1 teaspoon vanilla

splash of lemon juice

pinch of sea salt

  1. Set up grill for direct heat.
  2. Brush peach halves on both sides with butter.
  3. Wipe oil on hot cooking grate to prevent sticking. Place peach halves, cut side down, on grate. Close cover and grill for about 2 minutes.
  4. Turn peaches over, close cover and grill for about another two minutes.
  5. Cooking time will depend on the ripeness of your peaches, and whether you have the patience to wait for those attractive grill marks.
  6. Remove peaches to cutting board and slice or chop into edible-sized pieces. You could slide off the peach skin, but I left it on, unless it came off in the slicing.
  7. In a medium saucepan, heat the honey, vanilla, lemon juice, and salt over medium-low heat, until it begins to foam up. Toss in the peaches and stir until all the peaches are coated and heated through. The peaches should be cooked from the grilling and just need to be coated with the honey sauce. It will draw a lot of juice from the peaches and will not be a thick sauce, which is fine, because the pound cake will soak up a lot of juices.
  8. Serve peaches over sliced cake with optional whipped cream or ice cream.

Grill as Slow Cooker

I like the dry heat of an oven for roasting meats and use my covered roasting pans a lot. Then I found a good slow cooker recipe for pulled pork that gave me another option when I didn’t want to turn on the oven. Unlike a lot of slow cooker recipes, this one did not suck the life out of the meat, but kept it moist and flavorful. Last winter, that slow cooker crock cracked and put an end to that method until I get a replacement, but today, I’m using my newly purchased cast iron Dutch oven to recreate the recipe on the grill.

As I’ve noted in a recent post, the Dutch oven sits into the cooking grate ring on my Weber® grill, almost down to the charcoal grate, so the only option for arranging the coals is in the snake pattern, where the briquettes are placed around the inner edge of the kettle in a ring, except for one opening, so that the snake has a head and tail and doesn’t burn from both ends. You set some lighted, ashed-over coals on the head, and let the snake body light up slowly, keeping the temperature low (as in a slow cooker) for a long cooking period. I ended up using exactly 100 coals, which seems like a lot to me, except for the fact that I expect to cook my pork roast for at least 6 hours. My snake is 2 briquette rows wide and 2 rows tall, with 12 briquettes left over to start the fire. I’m hoping the temperature stays between 225°-250° for the whole time, and like a slow cooker, I don’t plan to open it unless the temperature goes too low and needs more fuel.

  • 3 hours: The temperature is about 290°, so I could adjust the top vents a little to lower the temperature. I have to wonder how much the heated cast iron adds to the overall temperature.
  • 5 hours: Hovering at about 250°. I hope something good is going on in that pot.
  • 6 hours: I just have to look. Oh, wow, it’s beautiful and just falls apart with the touch of a fork. Nothing is burnt or dry; the end result is pretty much like the result from the slow cooker, if you stop the cooking at about 6 hours. Any longer is when meat often loses its flavor in a slow cooker. As with all cooking of meat, you want to hit that right moment of doneness.

About 12 unlit briquettes at the end of the snake tell me the grill could cook for at least 1-2 more hours, while the spent coals have turned mostly to dust. Just a 6-8 inch portion of the snake is glowing, to give you an idea of how many hot coals go in to maintaining the 250° temperature.

I put the dish together exactly as the CHOW recipe says, with onions and garlic and chicken stock on the bottom and the pork roast with rub sitting on top. The only changes I made to their rub is adding a half tablespoon of smoked paprika and increasing the cinnamon to 1 teaspoon. It’s a very good rub, useful for a lot of meats with a little adjusting for your recipe taste.

New Gadget: Lodge 7 Qt Dutch Oven

Got a new toy for the grill today, the Lodge® 7 quart dutch oven. It’s big at 12″ across and at least 4 1/2″ deep inside, but it’s the one that fits the center opening in the Weber® Gourmet BBQ cooking grate, and it will allow me to do some braising and slow roasting on the grill. It will also be a great pot for chili, both on the grill and in the kitchen. The pot sits down into the center ring opening, stopping about an inch from the charcoal grate. Clearly, the only way to arrange the charcoal will be in a ring around the sides of the grate. A smaller pot could sit on top of the cooking grate or even down on the charcoal grate, surrounded by coals, but first I wanted one to fit into that grill opening. If it proves too big to use often, then maybe I need a second, smaller one. Sounds like I might be on the road to having a stash of Lodge pots and pans.

Weber® used to make such a covered pot for this system, but it appears to only be available overseas now. It looks in the images I’ve seen like it might not be as deep as the Lodge dutch oven. Too bad that it’s not available here anymore, but the Lodge seems like a good alternative.