Been spending a lot of time out at the pit lately. Here in Minnesota, our privileged,“glory season” is well upon us. Has been for a couple of weeks now. It’s also called Spring. And oh how my senses revel is this bandy of moments. The snow and ice are long gone now, and in it’s stead, green glades and leafy bouquets. Blue bird skies that won’t stop. And air so fresh and so sweet, you want nothing more than to lavish the day long, out-of-doors, drinking that Lilac-tinted air into your lungs. Around every bend, there is beauty. Blooms every where. From apple blossoms to dandy lions. And the sun feels like an old friend again, with it’s warm arm around your shoulders. Man I love spring! I adore it for what is reflected in my soul.
Naturally then, and as stated, I’ve been loitering with great effect out at the pit in recent days. Often taking my suppers out there, feet propped up, hat tipped up, and the world gently twirling before me. I’ll put a bit of music on the pit sound system, draft a lovely beverage, and make an evening of it there, contented and well fed. One of the projects we’ve smoked lately was meatloaf, which in of itself is not uncommon at the Pond Side Pit. But this particular loaf had a twist to it. A strategically placed core of hard boiled egg up it’s center. Yes mam, that’s what we did.
The idea was suggested to us by one of our Australian readers, Laurie. A pleasant bloke from down under with an affinity for eating good things. So when he mentioned we ought to put hard boiled eggs in our meat loaf, well, we took it as gospel. Laurie knows things. He also harbors a keen sense of humor, so, if he’s pulling one over on us, well, then we’ve been egged. Regardless, Laurie, this one is for you.
The smoke wood of choice today is pecan. A lovely, abiding, and faintly nutty bouquet sure to escort this loaf into the smokey realm with a degree of elegance. It is not an over powering smoke, but very well-rounded. If you only had pecan wood to smoke with at your pit, I don’t reckon your life would be too bad off. It makes our personal Mount Rushmore of Smoke Woods. And whilst were at it, may we remind you of our smoke wood list we compiled a while back, where upon many woods are gathered in one digital archive for your reference pleasure. Click on our Smoke Woods link here to take a gander.
At any rate, and back to meatloaf, it was prepped like any other meatloaf. I’m sure you’ve all got your recipes for that. We tossed in some chopped onions and green peppers, a few others odds and ends, and seasoned the meat with a packet of Lipton Onion Soup Mix. We flattened it out in a big pan, and laid three hard boiled eggs in a line, as seen a couple photos above. After a moment of retrospection, we bid the eggs adieu, and swaddled them in sticky meat. Meatloaf surprise was thus conceived.
Man. Can you smell this! After about an hour on indirect heat, gently bathed in pecan smoke, the meat loaf took on a fairly nice crust, which I appreciated. Now if you set up your grill like we did, for indirect cooking, that is all the coals banked up to one side, with your protein on the other side, you will do well to rotate your meat load 180 degrees half way through the cooking process. Rotating is just for even cooking. A large spatula will do the trick there. And the whole cook takes about an hour. Which, off-hand and by the way, is the perfect amount of time to slurp down one manly beverage and nod off a wee bit in your patio chair. Yes sir, these are the high rigors of conventional BBQ. If you’re not up to the challenge, hand the tongs off to some one who is! We think you got this tho!
Thus, and under a beautiful blue sky which tapered into evening pastels, I did what I do best – nothing. Nothing save for to tarry there in the fresh air, and watch the wood smoke pillar from the pit damper. The meat loaf in the home stretch now, I crossed my legs like a gentleman of leisure ought to, listed a bit in my chair, and relished the final minutes of my BBQ. I could feel the accelerator pedal of life let up now. And for a while at least, all the world was reduced to this simple, suspended moment in time. The wood smoke curling. The aroma of meatloaf under the lid. Song birds serenading from yonder tree tops. And the distinctly soft kiss of Lilacs in the breeze. Amen.
Pecan Smoked Meatloaf with a Hard Boiled Egg Core. Man! I gotta say, it wasn’t half bad. Kind of takes your run-of-the-mill meatloaf, and makes it bit of a center piece. If we were to do it again, I do think I would rather fancy a nice bacon lattice wrapped around it’s flanks. Bacon and eggs, after all..Regardless, good eating patron to the pit! Thanks Laurie!
It has been a soggy few days in paradise. I know the monsoon season has never even heard of Minnesota, but here lately I tell you, you would have been hard pressed to enlighten me otherwise. Flash floods, and torrents of falling water. Gales like Joshua’s trumpets. Lightening bolts the shape of Idaho. Thunder so loud you swear mother earth had just split at the seam. Everybody, even the resident ducks, were to take cover from the tempest, huddled in our respective shelters, listening to the rain drum over the roof like pitch forks and hammer handles. Magnificent weather, to say the least. You cannot deny. But a might challenging, shall we say, in which to go outside and light the BBQ. What’s a pit jockey to do! Eventually tho, and mercifully, all the flags suddenly went limp, and a golden shaft of light pierced down from a gray sky. Water gently dribbled off the roof, and the tweety birds burped back to life. We all emerged from our holes, every living thing, scratching our collective heads, and admiring a world so fresh and anew. So wet and green and clean. And countless pools of standing water where water ought not stand.
It wasn’t over yet, however. A glimpse at the Doppler radar revealed the bitter truth. That yet another green blob was advancing fiercely from the West. The short of it was we had but two, possibly three precious hours of semi-damp respite in which to frolic accordingly before the first, fat, rain drops spattered on the ground again. One hundred and twenty minutes or so, give or take. Well, under those circumstance, that was just long enough I figured, for a Patron of the Pit. Just long enough indeed, for a smoked meatloaf sandwich hot off the grill. Here is how to do it effectively!
Truth be told this started out as a simple round of hamburgers, but after mashing about the ground beef a bit, you might say inspiration struck. I quickly cracked an egg over the meat, and added about a cup of bread crumbs. Squirted some ketchup in there, then some garlic and onion. An envelope of Lipton Onion Soup Mix. And maybe a few other things. You all have your own kinks for your meat loaf I’m sure. Do henceforth what moves thee. Anyways, I shaped the obscene looking meat muck into the relative dimensions resembling that of a wayward bun I had sitting about. I had an orphaned hoagie roll you see, one that I didn’t know what to do with. It was all alone, and frankly wasn’t reaching its potential. So why not match the meat to fit the bun, its common sense really. I ended up with an oblong loaf of meat about an inch thick, of which I dusted over in some Cajun seasoning just because. This was carefully placed on tin foil and put opposite the hot coals to tighten up there.
After the meat has tightened up enough to safely pick the loaf up without destroying it, go ahead and get that tin foil out of there. You might be able to forego the tin foil stage altogether if your loaf is sturdy enough, but that is up to your pit master instincts to decide. Anyways, the sooner you get the foil out of there, the sooner then you can commence with the infusion of smokey goodness. The smoke, after all, is what will set this meatloaf sandwich apart from any other. With eyes on the skies, we smoked this hunk of meat for a good hour in a continuous parade of curling oak wood smoke. And it was glorious. An entire hour in which to sit by the pit and do nothing at all. As usual, I was up for the task. Up for the undeniable attributes of not cooking in the rain. Like not wondering where the next lightening bolt may strike, or fighting a stormy gale. The way of course to grill in a monsoon is not to fight it, but to patiently hold your charcoal, biding your time. Like a adventure climbers who bandy together on the flanks of Everest, waiting on a small window of weather in which to assault the summit. And so it is today, and between the tempest, that we strike!
Checking in on the plunder is OK. You may wish to turn the meatloaf from time to time, for even cooking. But always keep it tucked back, opposite the hot coals. When in doubt, go indirect people. Ten minutes from the end of the cook, we plunked on a naked corn on the cob, and roasted it over direct heat. Rotating it often with the tongs. A little butter and salt, man, is there anything better! And lastly we toasted up the orphaned hoagie roll, to add that extra touch to a meal well executed. And whilst we dressed the bun in mayonnaise and ketchup, we put a few globs of every one’s favorite ghetto cheese on the meat to melt. Mercy!
Oak Smoked Meatloaf Sandwiches on a toasted hoagie roll. Oh buddy! It don’t get more comfort food than this! Just the ticket for what ails you, between the storms, and under fair skies.
One of the greater joys in the grilling arts, is that you get to be out-of-doors. And every once in a while, even in Minnesota, that means you might happen upon the perfect day. The sort of sublime existence where you are neither too hot, nor too cold, but in point of fact – just right. Where the clouds, if there are any, idle over head, puffy and white, like a heavenly mobile. And the blue of the sky is of an ilk deeper than the sea is wide. Tweety birds sing at the top of their little lungs, and the plastic-like leaves of the papal tree clack in the gentle breeze, like a thousand and one credit cards. You are surrounded by green. The grass, the trees, the flourishing gardens at once ensconce thee. And wood smoke, if your lucky, curls poetically from your grill. Not that we need perfect weather to grill, for we have debunked that notion many a time here at this site. But if the perfect sort of paradisaical day happens upon you, who are we to fight it! Keepers of the pit rejoice, for these are our moments. Fractions of perfection busted from the crown jewel of time. On the grill tonight, BBQ Meatloaf and Corn on the Cob. So lets get after it!
To get started, we did up a little green pepper and onion in the old, black iron pan. A pat of butter, and sizzled the diced up melody not to a translucent state, but really just enough to get the raw crunch out of it. Whilst that sizzles on the grill, prepare thy meatloaf how ever you’re used to.
We used the following ingredients:
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1/3 pound ground pork
- 1 envelope Lipton Onion Soup Mix
- 1 egg
- 1 cup of bread crumbs soaked in milk
- 1 cup of green peppers
- 1/2 cup onions
- 1/2 cup frozen corn just because
- a little pepper just because again
Now the egg and the bread crumbs act as a binding agent of course. Off-hand and by-the-way, if you wouldn’t mind sashaying down a literary bunny trail for a moment; do you know how you go to supermarkets to purchase your bratwurst or polish sausages, and how they often times come in packages of six? And then you amble over to the bakery section to pick out your buns, just to discover that they only come in packages of eight, and that wee but if disgust for consumerism burps up in the back of your mouth? You know full will they do that on purpose. And what the heck are we supposed to do with two extra hot dog buns? Well, yesterday I had what you might call an epiphany in my meatloaf. That didn’t sound right, but what ever. But it suddenly dawned on me, like most good things do, a suitable use for the two extra hot dog buns I had sitting around from my last cook out. I thus and with great zeal, ripped them to pieces and soaked them in milk, and viola, a binding agent for my meatloaf was born. I triumph from waste if you will. A token advance unto a more efficient ideal. Anyways.
After you get your meatloaf all packed together, and if it can’t hold a decent shape flattering of a lowly meat loaf, put it in a bread pan of sorts, and lay it opposite your hot coals on the grill. In-direct cooking, as is so often the case, is once again your chosen technique here. Next add a chunk of your favorite smoke wood to the coals, thus to separate yourself from all the other indoor chefs. This is one of the distinct advantages to doing routine cooks on the grill – that wonderful and abiding smokey flavor, which in-turn will set your dish apart, and all will know it hails proudly from the smokey realm.
Now mid-way through the cook, you’ll want to rotate your meat 180 degrees for even cooking. And better yet, once the meat has tightened up a bit, go head and invert the pan and get that meat loaf out of there, exposing all of it on the grill. Toss on another small piece of hickory or mesquite, and proceed with the very important business of infusing more smokey goodness into the meat. Put the lid on, and resume the proper BBQ posture in your easy chair, lovely beverage in hand, whilst plumes of aromatic smoke curl nicely from your grill. Near the end of the cook, or when the internal temp reaches around 160 degrees, brush on a generous coat of your most favorite BBQ sauce over the top. We used SuckleBusters Original Sauce, which is pretty much amazing. Around this time we also threw on the corn. If there is anything better than grilled corn on the cob, lathered in butter, and dashed in salt, please let us know! Man!
Hickory Smoked BBQ Meat Loaf and Grilled Corn on the Cob. Dang! Enough to pacify the meatiest man. Next time you’re looking for something to grill up, give meatloaf a try.