I love smoked foods. There are few things that can’t be made better with the addition of smoke. The problem is that it’s not viable for us to have a smoker right now–we don’t have enough storage space outside so we’d have to worry about junkies wandering off with it–so I mainly daydream about when we will be able to have one so I can make my own bacon, and can smoke ribs and sausages and fish and whatever else I feel like.
Or at least I daydreamed about that until I figured out that it’s actually pretty easy to smoke food on a barbecue. All you need is woodchips and a grill large enough to be able to cook your food with indirect heat, and since we have literally the cheapest non-portable propane grill that Canadian Tire sells and can smoke on it, that means pretty much any two-burner barbecue.
Apparently this is actually “smoke-roasting” because it happens at a higher temperature than hot smoking, but if it tastes great, who cares about nomenclature, right?
The night I made these smoke-roasted pork tacos I was actually planning on making shrimp tacos with a small amount of shrimp we had in the freezer but when I went to the local fruiterie to get some vegetables and tortillas, I spotted a pork tenderloin on sale and thought that this would be a great addition to the meal. And since I’d just found a bag of applewood chips that I’d previously bought and had forgotten about, I figured that I might as well try combining the two.
I marinated the tenderloin in a mixture of tequila and lime juice for about an hour, and soaked a couple of cups of wood chips in water for about fifteen minutes. I drained the wood chips and put them in a foil pouch, making sure that it was open at both ends. The pouch went in at the bottom of the barbecue. I started up the barbecue with only one burner until the chips started smoking, turned the heat down to it’s lowest setting, then put the tenderloin on the side opposite the burner until it cooked to an internal temperature of 145F.
We served it on tortillas with pico de gallo, avocados and onions marinated in lime juice and tequila because the avocados were too hard to use for guacamole, cheese, and sour cream. I ended up cooking the shrimp as I had initially planned and we had that as well. For sides we grilled some corn and served it with a chile-infused butter and I also made quick-friend zucchini with toasted garlic and lime from Rick Bayless’s Authentic Mexican cookbook.
The meat took on a wonderful orange-ish colour from the smoke and had a beautiful smoky flavour. It wasn’t difficult to prepare or cook and really made the tacos something special. They may have been nicer texturally had I shredded the pork instead of slicing it, but the flavour was great. We will definitely try this again.
Smoke-roasted Pork Tenderloin
1 pork tenderloin
A generous splash of tequila
The juice from two or three freshly squeezed limes
Salt and pepper
2 cups applewood chips
Season the tenderloin with salt and pepper and put it in a sealable container with the tequila/lime juice mixture. Let this sit in the fridge for about an hour. In the meantime, soak the wood chips in water for fifteen minutes, drain, and make a foil pouch for them. Close the pouch, leaving the ends open, place it on the bottom of your barbecue and heat the grill until the chips begin to smoke. Place the marinated tenderloin on the side of the grill opposite the wood chips–the tenderloin shouldn’t be over a flame. Cook with the lid closed until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 145F, about 45-60 minutes. Serve with tortillas and your favourite taco fixings.
Quick-friend Zucchini with Toasted Garlic and Lime
Serves 4. Adapted from Rick Bayless’s Authentic Mexican.
1 pound zucchini, trimmed and cut into 1/4″ cubes
1 scant tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
5 cloves garlic, peeled and very thinly sliced
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
A generous 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (I used fresh oregano from the garden)
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1. Sweating the zucchini. In a colander, toss the zucchini with the salt; let stand 1/2 hou over a plate or in the sink. Rinse the zucchini, then dry on paper towels.
2. Browning the garlic and frying the zucchini. About 15 minutes before serving, heat the butter and oil over a medium-low heat in a skillet large enough to hold the zucchini in a single layer. Add the garlic and stir frequently until light brown, about 3 minutes. Do not burn. Scoop the garlic into a fine-mesh sieve set over a small bowl, then scrape the strained butter mixture back into the pan; set the garlic aside. Raise the heat to medium-high. Add the zucchini to the pan and fry, stirring frequently, for 8 to 10 minutes, until browned and tender but still a little crunchy. Remove from the heat.
3. Finishing the dish. Add the lime and toasted garlic; toss thoroughly. Sprinkle with the pepper, oregano and parsley, then mix, taste for salt and serve in a warm dish.