Category Archives: Recipes

Loco Moco

When I visit Hawaii, one of my favorite indulgences is a dish called loco moco. It’s a gut-bomb that usually consists of two thin hamburger patties topped with over-easy eggs and brown gravy on a bed of white rice, with a scoop of mac salad on the side. Variations include different meat options, having the eggs cooked differently, or sometimes finding onions mixed into the hamburger or into the gravy. What doesn’t change is the basic concept of meat topped with eggs and brown gravy over rice..and the nap you’ll need afterwards.

A sometimes like to make loco moco at home. I made this one a while back using Guava Smoked pork patties. You can only get Guava Smoked products in Honolulu…these were sent to me by a friend…but you could mix-up something similar using ground pork from the supermarket. They’re ground pork butt that’s seasoned, formed into patties, and cold-smoked. They’re sold frozen and you grill them at home.

Guava Smoked pork patties
Guava Smoked pork patties

Start by making a batch of sticky white rice, if you have it, otherwise long grain white rice will do. Make two cups of brown gravy using those little dry packet mixes from the supermarket. Nothing fancy here, I guarantee you they’re using the same packaged mixes in Hawaii.

Grilling the pork patties
Grilling the pork patties

Grill the pork patties or substitute hamburger patties. Cook two eggs to your liking…I prefer scrambled.

Two plates of loco moco
Two plates of loco moco

I built these loco mocos in the wrong order so you could see the grilled meat on top. OK, that’s a lie. I just wasn’t paying attention when I did it. The right way is to lay down a bed of white rice, then place the meat on the rice, put the eggs on top of the meat, and smother the whole thing with gravy.

Close-up of loco moco with pork patty
Close-up of loco moco with pork patty

Make sure to reserve a spot on the sofa after dinner, ‘cuz you’re gonna need it.

Aloha!

Pork Loin vs Pork Tenderloin

Do you sometimes yell at your television?

I yell at my TV every time I watch a cooking show where someone uses the terms “pork loin” and “pork tenderloin” interchangeably. They are not the same cut of meat!

I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised, because both cuts come from the whole pork loin, but they are two distinctly different pieces of meat. And the confusion between the two cuts runs deep with tradition. Throughout the Midwest, they make something called a pork tenderloin sandwich which is really a slice of pork loin that’s pounded thin, breaded, fried until golden brown and delicious, and served on a bun. It looks amazing, but it’s pork loin, folks, not tenderloin!

Pork loin is located next to the pig’s spine, with the meat sitting right on top of the baby back ribs. If a pig asked you to scratch his back, you’d be scratching pork loin. Pork loin is sold bone-in or boneless, usually with a fat cap. You can cook it whole as a roast, or you can cut it into chops.

Pork tenderloin is a thin cylindrical muscle that’s attached to the inside of the ribcage. You couldn’t scratch a pig’s back and touch tenderloin. Pork tenderloin is sold boneless and is very lean, with no fat cap. In fact, pork tenderloin is just as lean as skinless chicken breast…very heart healthy! You can cook it whole or slice it into medallions for pan searing.

What pork loin and pork tenderloin both have in common is a mild taste. Both need something to amp-up the flavor. Think dry rubs, marinades, brining, salting, or serving with flavorful sauces over the meat or on the side.

Pork Loin Pork Tenderloin
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So now you know the difference between pork loin and pork tenderloin.  We now return you to our regularly scheduled program already in progress. And feel free to yell at your television as much as you like.

Photos: National Pork Board

Plancha Bacon Cheeseburgers

On June 8, I posted about buying a Weber plancha for my Summit gas grill. The first thing I cooked using my new toy was bacon cheeseburgers. Yum!

I preheated the plancha for 10 minutes over medium-high heat, then fried-up some thick-sliced bacon over medium heat.

Bacon on the Weber plancha
Bacon on the Weber plancha
Bacon close-up
Bacon close-up

Once the bacon was done, I used some long tongs and a wad of paper towels to sweep the bacon fat to the drain. Next I grilled the burgers to medium doneness. A friend recommended that I try Prather Ranch ground beef from the Campbell Farmer’s Market. Very nice meat, but about twice the price of regular ground beef. Not an everyday thing but definitely a nice treat.

I formed the patties by hand and seasoned both sides generously with kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper.

Burgers getting planchafied
Burgers getting planchafied

Got some good crustification on both sides.

Burger close-up
Burger close-up

Topped that burger with two slices of Tillamook sharp cheddar cheese and some crispy bacon.

Burger smothered with melted cheddar cheese and bacon
Burger smothered with melted cheddar cheese and bacon

Toasted me a bun on the grill and this meaty masterpiece was ready for condiments and my burger hole!

Burger ready for assembly
Burger ready for assembly

You can see that the plancha did a great job on the bacon and gave me a good crust on the burger. That cast iron construction is the key…it really holds the heat.

Next time I may try a Weber grill press to see if I can get even more crusty goodness on a plancha burger.

The Weber Style 7577 Premium Cast Iron Plancha is available at Amazon.com.

SYD All-Purpose Rub

Slap Yo' Daddy All-Purpose Rub
Slap Yo’ Daddy All-Purpose Rub

In my post about Pork Tenderloin Steaks, I mentioned SYD rub.

Harry Soo of Slap Yo’ Daddy BBQ was kind enough to do a Q&A on The Virtual Weber Bulletin Board in 2010 in which he shared the recipe for his SYD All-Purpose Rub. It went something like this:

  • 4 TBSP kosher salt
  • 2 TBSP granulated sugar
  • 2 TBSP brown sugar
  • 2 TBSP mild chili powder
  • 2 TBSP paprika
  • 1 TBSP ground cumin
  • 1 TBSP granulated garlic
  • 1 TBSP black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

More recently, Harry has simplified the recipe, and this is the one I’ve been using.

  • 1 TBSP Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
  • 1 TBSP granulated sugar
  • 1 TBSP McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • 1-1/2 tsp mild chili powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1-1/2 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

These measurements make the amount of rub shown in the jar in the photo above, a little less than half a cup.

Pork Tenderloin Steaks

The May/June 2014 issue of Cook’s Illustrated magazine features a technique for grilled pork tenderloin “steaks”. I’ve made them a few times recently and the family loves them!

The premise behind the technique is that by pounding out the tenderloin, you create almost 30% more surface area for searing, and searing = flavor!

Start by removing any silver skin and large areas of fat, then cut the tenderloin into two equal pieces.

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Cover with plastic wrap or a Ziploc bag and using a heavy, flat-bottomed drinking glass, pound each piece to 3/4″ thick.

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Use a sharp knife to cut a shallow cross-hatch pattern on both sides of each steak to promote a crusty exterior. Season liberally with your favorite rub, or marinate the meat.

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Sear both sides to get a good crust, then reduce the heat or move to a cooler part of the grill and continue cooking to about 5*F below your preferred internal temperature. I overcooked these to about 150*F; 135-140*F would have been better, but even at 150*F, the meat was still plenty moist.

Brush both sides with a favorite BBQ sauce right at the end of cooking. Remove from the grill, cover loosely with foil, and let rest for just 5 minutes before brushing with more sauce and slicing to serve.

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My family loves pork tenderloin, and I love having a new way to cook it in my bag of tricks. Give this one a try, I think you’ll like it!

P.S. I used Slap Yo Daddy rub and Kinder’s Mild BBQ sauce. I’ll post the SYD rub recipe soon.