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Tennessee Whiskey Pork LoinMar 01, 2011

My Grandpa was from Tennessee. I think my dad mentioned something about the Blue Ridge Mountains and that he lived in Nashville for a time. Unfortunately, I haven't had the opportunity to visit the state of his birth (funnily enough, my dad and my husband visited Knoxville together for the Cal-Tennessee football game...they said the people were unbelievably welcoming but that stadium full of orange was the scariest sight they have ever laid eyes upon), but maybe I have a little bit of Tennessee in me because I read this recipe in my BBQ cookbook and had to make it.

Now, I have no qualms about cooking with alcohol: a splash of brandy in lobster risotto or shao xing rice wine in dumpling filling, a half-cup of sake in miso sauce for fish or wine in my duck ragù -- heck, a bottle of wine in my shortribs. But by the time these porky suckers were ready to go on the grill, I had used nearly 2 cups of JD. If I drank that amount instead of letting it burn off over the flames, I would be hanging out the car window on my way to the emergency room. Needless to say, I was daunted.

Some learnings from this effort:

  1. Get yourself a good grill man. In our household, I don't touch the grill. The hubby might be afraid of the stove, but he is a whiz kid with the grill (just don't let him watch the NBA Finals and grill at the same time...sometime ask him about the $40 Porterhouse Disaster of '10).
  2. Be prepared to get messy. When it comes to cooking, I'm kind of like Phil Hartman's Anal Retentive Chef. All waste materials have their own place (compost, recycling, trash); everything gets wiped up as I cook. By the time I had trussed up these piggies, I was up to my elbows in rub and fillings, and some had even dripped over the side of the counter and down my legs. As soon as you fold over the other half of the pork, everything gushes out the sides, so make sure you have a large, contained work space.
  3. Make your own BBQ sauce. It's sooooo worth it.
  4. I'm not sure if it was the whiskey or the 10 other ingredients, but this pork loin was BAD ASS (all caps and expletives required). It's sweet, spicy, tangy, and smoky all in one bite. The author of my cookbook (Steven Raichlen's BBQ USA) merged together a few different recipes he gathered on his travels throughout Tennessee, and if this is the end result, then I'd better buy some bigger pants before my first visit.

I was feeding 11 adults and used about 6 lbs. of pork loin. Feel free to cut down this recipe if you're not feeding an army.

Ingredients:

For the pork:

  • 2 center-cut pieces of pork loin, about 3 lbs each (6 lbs. total)
  • 6 tbsp. Tennessee whiskey
  • 4 tbsp. BBQ rub (try a 1:1:1:1 mixture of sugar, kosher salt, paprika, and freshly ground black pepper)
  • 6 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 c. firmly packed brown sugar
  • 8 slices bacon

 

For the glaze:

  • 6 tbsp. butter
  • 6 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 6 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 6 tbsp. Tennessee whiskey

 

Directions:

  1. One hour before preparing the grill, soak 2 cups of hickory wood chips in water.
  2. Butterfly the pork loins by cutting through each roast lengthwise to about 1" from the other side. Open the pork loins like a book. Drizzle 1 tbsp. whiskey over each pork loin, and let sit for 5 minutes. Take a third of the rub and sprinkle it over both pieces of pork. Then spread the mustard over both. Sprinkle brown sugar over the mustard, and then finish by sprinkling the remaining whiskey over the sugar. Close the pork loins so they take their original shape.
  3. Sprinkle the pork loins with remaining rub. On a clean surface, lay out four 12" lengths of kitchen twine so that they are parallel to each other and spaced about 2" apart. Lay one strip of bacon on top of the lengths of twine so that it is perpendicular to them and in the center. Center one pork loin on top of the bacon, and lay another slice of bacon lengthwise on top of the pork. Place two more pieces of bacon on the pork, one along either side, and then tie each length of twine securely around the loin. Repeat with the other pork loin and bacon.
  4. In a small saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, mustard, and whiskey, bring to a boil, and simmer for 5 minutes or until syrupy. Set the glaze aside.
  5. Prepare the grill for indirect grilling (we have a 3-burner gas grill): Drain the hickory chips, wrap in aluminum foil and puncture the top of the packet several times with a knife. Set the packet under the grate directly over one of the burners, turn burner to high heat until you see smoke, then reduce heat to moderate (325º-350ºF).
  6. Place the pork loins on the hot grate, over the drip pan and away from the heat source, and close the lid. Grill for 1 to 1.5 hours until an instant-read thermometer registers 160º, basting with the glaze every 15-20 minutes. Remove the pork loins from the grill and let rest 5-10 minutes. Remove twine, and slice horizontally about 1/2" thick.

To serve: drizzle with remaining glaze, and serve with homemade BBQ sauce.

Adapted from Steven Raichlen's BBQ USA

 


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