Tag Archives: grilling

Our Perfect Meal

Smoked pork tenderloin, stir-fried cabbage & Texas caviar - oh, my!

The Complete Package and I have discovered our perfect meal. We made it this weekend, but usually we save it for New Year’s Day. It’s one of our favorites of all time and it confirms my theory that sometimes the simplest foods are the most wonderful. Here’s the rundown:

Pork Tenderloin
rubbed with Salt Lick dry rub (it’s spicy & wonderful) and smoked over oak

Stir-Fried Cabbage
green cabbage chopped & braised in a hot skillet with bacon, salt & black pepper

Texas Caviar
black-eyed peas w/jalapeno, purple onion, cilantro, red wine vinegar & olive oil

Oh, baby. Who wouldn’t love to put down a plate of this cabbage? When you add a slab of smokey pork tenderloin and Texas caviar, it’s amazing. Try it for yourself and see if you don’t agree. It’s simple. Beautiful. Flavorful. Perfect.

One tip: if you’re sensitive to cabbage, consider serving this meal with a simple appetizer – Beano. {And just like that, she makes a subliminal fart joke.}

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TCP Cooks: Smoky Baby Back Ribs


Of all the things The Complete Package cooks, his smoked meats are among my favorites. Pork ribs, brisket, pork tenderloin, chicken breasts – it’s all good. One of my personal favorites is the pork ribs. They’re not only delicious as a meal – with baked beans and potato salad, they are fabulous as leftovers. Once the meat falls off the bone (literally), it can be used in posole, pulled pork sandwiches, and one of my favorite light summer meals – smoky pork lettuce wraps. Today, I’m sharing TCP’s secret formula for fall-off-the-bone smoky pork ribs and those easy, flavorful wraps.

Here’s what you’ll need for the ribs:
1 rack of pork baby back ribs
2-3 teaspoons of garlic salt
2-3 tablespoons of Salt Lick Dry BBQ Rub
aluminum foil and oak smoking chips

First, remove the pork ribs from the package and rinse them thoroughly. Pat dry with paper towels. Using a sharp knife, remove the silver skin from the back side of the ribs and leave the fat on the top side. Sprinkle liberally with garlic salt, then apply a light coat of the dry rub mix, rubbing it in until the entire rack is coated. If you can’t find Salt Lick rub, you can order it online or simply substitute your favorite brand. If you’re in Texas, you’ll find it in HEB stores.

TCP uses a gas grill, but you could do this with charcoal, too. Heat the grill to high heat and sear the ribs on both sides, until they are browned and crispy. Remove the ribs from the grill so you can adjust your grill temperatures as follows. Remember: the key to tender smoked ribs is “slow and low” which means a longer cooking time at low heat. The result is smoky perfection.

If you are using a gas grill, turn off the heat on ½ of the grill, and turn the heat on the other ½ of the grill down to medium heat. This divides your grill into a “warm” side and a “cool” side for smoking your ribs. Place your ribs back on the cool side, and a wood chip packet on the warm side (see below).

If you are using a charcoal grill, remove the grill from your cooker and push your charcoal briquettes to one side of the grill. If you still have quite a few hot coals, use a pair of tongs to remove some of them. You want half of your grill to be free of coals, and half your grill to have just enough hot coals to cause your wood chip packets to smoke. Use extreme caution when moving hot coals!!

Rip off 2 sheets of aluminum foil about 12-14” long. Place 1 ½ cups of oak smoking chips in the center of each sheet and fold them into a sealed packet. Using a sharp knife, cut 6 to 8 slits in the top of the foil packets to allow the smoke to escape. Place the ribs on the “cool” side of the grill and one of the oak chip packets on the “hot” side. Close the grill and allow the ribs to smoke for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the first wood chip packet and replace it with the second. Smoke for an additional 30 minutes, making sure the “cool” side of the grill doesn’t get too hot, overcooking or drying out your ribs.

After one hour of smoking on the grill, place the ribs into a baking pan, cover tightly with foil and place them in a warm oven (250F) for 3 hours. When you remove them from the oven, remove the foil and allow your ribs to rest for 10 minutes before cutting into them. When I say cutting them, I really mean using tongs to pull the rib bones out. It’s not really cutting if they fall apart when you touch them. As a bonus, your house is going to smell fabulous and your neighbors are going to be ringing doorbells trying to identify the source of this heavenly aroma. It’s up to you whether you share or not. I’m not saying a word.

Smokey pork, scallions & hoisin on crisp Boston lettuce? Win-win-win!

For the lettuce wraps, you’ll need:
one head of Boston lettuce
2 to 3 cups of leftover smoky pork rib meat
2 or 3 scallions, sliced lengthwise into 3-4” strips
your favorite hoisin sauce

Separate your head of lettuce into individual leaves, cut your scallions into thin julienned strips, and warm your smoky rib meat. To serve, hold one lettuce leaf in your hand. Place a spoonful of smoked pork in the lettuce leaf, add scallion shreds and top with hoisin sauce. Roll and consume. It’s that easy. If you’re a rice lover, you can add steamed rice to your lettuce wraps. If you like crunch, you can add those crispy chow mein noodles. I’m a purist. I like to keep it simple with pork, scallions and hoisin. But that’s the beauty of leftovers. You can be as creative or as straight forward as you like. I just wish I had the words to describe how incredible this tastes. Oh, TCP and smoky pork… I love you so!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a date with a lettuce wrap.

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TCP Cooks: Flank Steak Sandwiches with Soy-Ginger Mayonnaise

TCP's Steak Sandwiches with Soy-Ginger Mayo - No one can eat just one!

This sandwich has become a Complete Package signature dish. He’s made it so often, family and friends consider it a trademark TCP creation. But the truth is the recipe came from The America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook (2001, Boston Common Press). Once he tried it, we were hooked. The recipe may sound less than dazzling at first glance, but it’s packed with tremendous flavor. It’s hard to describe, except to say that everyone who’s ever tried it loves it. Last week, when Mom and two of my sisters were here, TCP broke out the flank steak sandwiches, and they fell in love. They’re that good. The key is a good flank steak and the soy-ginger mayonnaise. If you’re not a ginger fan, don’t worry. Mom isn’t either, but she loved these sandwiches. All I can say is “try them…you’ll like them!”

First, mix up the Soy-Ginger Mayonnaise:
1/2 cup of Hellman’s Mayonnaise (not Miracle Whip, Hellman’s – TCP insists)
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon of honey
1/2 teaspoon of garlic, smashed to a paste
1 teaspoon of fresh ginger, grated on a microplane
1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until well blended. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. You can make this up to one day in advance, and it really tastes best if you make it early so all the flavors come together.

For the sandwiches, you’ll need:
1 1/2 pounds of flank steak, trimmed of fat & patted dry
1/2 teaspoon of garlic salt
Salt & Pepper, to your own taste
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil (if you use a skillet)
1 baguette of French bread (use a good soft one)
The soy-ginger mayonnaise (made in advance)
1/2 of a small purple onion, sliced paper thin
2-3 cups of arugula, washed, stemmed & dried

Season your flank steak with garlic salt, salt & pepper. If you’re using a cast iron skillet, heat it to blazing hot first, add the oil and then add your flank steak. If you’re using an outdoor grill, you can skip the oil and just season it first. Either way, cook your flank steak over high heat until the outside is seared and the inside is medium-rare. Remove from the heat and allow it to rest on a cutting board for 10 minutes. If you have a piece of foil handy, throw it over the steak to keep it warm. While the steak is resting, prep the rest of the sandwich.

Slice your baguette in half lengthwise and toast each half on the grill or in a dry skillet or griddle until lightly toasted. Spread each half liberally with soy-ginger mayonnaise. Cutting across the grain and on a bias (45 degree angle), thinly slice your flank steak and place it on the bottom half of the baguette. Top the steak with purple onion and arugula and put the lid on it. Gently press the sandwich to bring it all together, then slice into 4″ to 6″ segments and serve immediately.

We could talk about side dishes for this meal, but the truth is I never remember what we had with these sandwiches. Pickles? Chips? Maybe. I really couldn’t tell you. They’re so good, everything else becomes a blur. And really, you don’t need anything except a handful of napkins and something cold to wash them down with. Enjoy! And thanks for making these for the girls, honey. You da’ man!

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