What’s been for dinner lately:
Sheet pan pizza with prosciutto, Parmesan, and white sauce. The crust is from America’s Test Kitchen’s “Pizza al Taglio with Arugula and Mozzarella,” but I baked it with a Parmesan/garlic white sauce, fresh mozzarella, baby spinach, and prosciutto. [There’s a paywall on this site.]
Beef stir fry. This is just a version of the one I make on the grill in the summer, with more veggies. I used some steamed frozen broccoli to avoid the longer cooking that fresh broccoli requires.
Rigatoni and butternut squash casserole with pancetta and Parmesan. Just like the one I’ve made before with bacon, but I find the pancetta to be milder and less overpowering than the bacon.
Boston Cream Pie—made this for my husband’s birthday. Specifically the Wicked Good Boston Cream Pie from America’s Test Kitchen. One word of caution: The written recipe omits the most important line from the video. When making the pastry cream, you don’t stop when bubbles break the surface; you continue whisking until the whisk leaves a trail in the bottom of the pan, sort of like when making jam. Otherwise the pastry cream will be runny. It’s a delightful cake. [There’s a paywall on this site.]
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.
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.
I’m always looking for ways to change up the old grilled hamburger in the summer, like tonight for example when I made meatloaf burgers. They made a better version of a meatloaf sandwich, more tender than a regular hamburger and already full of lots of flavors, so that they didn’t need a lot of additions piled on. Last year I put giant meatballs on skewers, and that worked out pretty well, too. They were spicy, like these kebabs, but without quite so much heat. I made the kebabs a few days ago on one of the long holiday weekend days.
Tip for keeping any ground meat shape on a skewer: don’t make too wet or loose a mixture. You want the meat to hold its shape around the skewer so you can turn it on the grill.
We ate them two ways in flatbread wraps. I topped mine with roasted peppers, fresh tomatoes, and a sour cream-cucumber sauce. My husband chose only the peppers and my homemade burger sauce (mayo, Sriracha, garlic, cumin, maple syrup, lime juice, salt).
Spicy Grilled Ground Meat Kebabs
Plan ahead so the meat and spices have a chance to marinate up to a day.
- 1/2 lb ground beef
- 1/2 lb ground pork
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
- 1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 bay leaf, ground
- 1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
- 1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh or dried cilantro
- 2 teaspoons garlic paste or grated garlic
- 1-2 teaspoons ginger paste or grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 4 bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 1 hour
- Mix the ground meat, spices, and aromatics until completely combined. You might even want to run the mixture through a meat grinder, especially if your ground meat has not been ground fine. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
- Divide into four and shape each portion into a long sausage shape around a bamboo skewer.
- Grill over direct heat for a few minutes on each side. They cook quickly and you don’t want to overcook them. You could cook them over indirect heat with the grill lid closed for about 10 minutes, browning over direct heat or not. I like the taste of the charred kebabs better.