Sunday, April 13, 2014

Smoked Pork Tenderloin and Spinach Salad ala Chris Lilly - 52 Pork Dishes and Side Dishes from the Grill

Today's post is a bit different for me.  I am writing a review of one of my most recent purchases... Fire & Smoke, a Pitmaster's Secrets by Chris Lilly (of Big Bob Gibson's fame).  In my opinion, no review is complete without at least one recipe from the book made with my home kitchen and grilling equipment limitations.  I selected the Amazing Pork tenderloin over a Spinach Salad... But we will get to that in a second.

First... Here's the "About The Author" blurb on his page...
CHRIS LILLY is vice president, executive chef, and partner of Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q. The Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q Competition Cooking Team has won ten World BBQ Championships, six world titles at “Memphis in May,” and the American Royal International Cook-off and BBQ Sauce Competition. Lilly is married to the great-granddaughter of BBQ legend Big Bob Gibson and is the author of Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book.

Yeap, Mr. Lilly does indeed have his BBQ chops!  If you have ever had or heard of Baptized Chicken using an Alabama White Sauce... That's from Chris Lilly and his restaurant, Big Bob Gibson!

In that book, we are taken on an historical tour of how one of the most famous BBQ joints came to be and has thrived among the competition in an area while dozens and dozens of pop up want to be pitmasters have come and gone.  The restaurant has certainly evolved in it;s 90 plus year history, as have the recipes.  But Chris shares his memories of the last half of the history along with the family legends that create the mythical shrine to Southern BBQ.

This original book did a great job of what it intended to do.  Introduce the restaurant, share stories and legends, entertain and give home Que-ers an opportunity to try out the Big Bob Gibson magic themselves.

The only possible complaint people had was that the book relied too much on the seasonings, rubs and sauces that are available for purchase at the restaurant (or by mail order).

Fire and Smoke, his new book is the perfect companion to his original as the history section of the book goes into much more detail about the types of cooking grills and smokers used throughout the south and less specific to the restaurant.  In other words... The way we cook!

The book is simply beautiful.  Almost every recipe includes a full page photo of the finished dish or suggestions on serving or cooking techniques for that dish.  The little extras are always appreciated.  From references on a dozen or more different types of grills and smokers (complete with cost and each cooker's "ideal" use) to chapters on making your own rubs and sauces (this time giving the recipes instead of suggesting mail order).  There is even a detailed chapter on making Grilled Pizzas (a personal favorite use of the grill for me)!!!

Whole chapters on GRILLED Drinks (yeap... Grilled) that will make all of your guests Ooh and Aah at your skills, to appetizers to salads and sandwiches, main dishes, side dishes and a lot of fantastic desserts... There is even a first ever chapter for me...  I had never seen a chapter on what to do with leftovers in a major BBQ book before.  If you are like me,if I am going to fire up my smoker, I am going to load it up.  So, what to do with that gallon of extra pulled pork... How about an Overstuffed Pulled Pork Potato (you will have to buy the book to see that recipe)... Or a delicious looking Brisket Eggs Benedict.  Now I need a new smoker just so I can make EXTRA EXTRA leftovers!

Yeap... Indeed, I loved this book.  One of the most complete I have ever seen.

Chris does go into great detail on the methods of cooking with photo tips and ideas to recreate his recipes.  Terms like "Indirect Grilling" and "Internal Temperatures" are explained so that even a novice can carefully read the details and succeed.  But a more seasoned Que-er will also come up with more than a few ideas that make the price of the book more than worth it.

As to this recipe... Could not be more thrilled.

The recipe includes a fresh made salad dressing (nothing screams homemade treat like opening a mason jar of salad dressing at the table as you serve).  There is also a recipe for a suggested rub to apply to the pork before cooking.  A terrific introduction to making a rub and eventually working up a signature rub... Again, bragging rights while serving when you talk about ingredients in "your" rub can not be over rated!  And finally there is a cooking sauce that is used during the cooking process.  Making that moist tender and FILLED WITH FLAVOR piece of meat perfect every time.

The total package for a no fail meal.

And speaking of meal, the salad is a real treat.  I did pack mine with a few extras to make it a little more colorful, but what a beautiful presentation of a fruit filled salad with the perfectly seasoned and prepared pork medallions on top.

The total package indeed.

the book is available from  Just a quick disclaimer, I received no compensation for this review.  I bought the book myself, paid full price... Well discounted full price as I bought from Amazon.  I have included links for the books below.  If you click on one of those links and buy, I will get a small  (appreciated but very very small) reward from Amazon for directing you their way.

The reprint of the recipe is meant as an example of my positive review of the book, to highlight the details and ease of following the recipes.

And one final note... There are lots of ingredients in this recipe.  But considering the scratch made salad dressing is 7 ingredients, the scratch made Seasoning Sauce another 6 and the Dry Rub recipe is 8 ingredients, if you use a store bought salad dressing (not recommended, nor as much fun, nor (and most importantly) will you be able to have total bragging rights when you serve, or a store bought rub or sauce, the actual dish only has 8 ingredients.  But most of the other ingredients are probably in your pantry anyway.

OK... to the recipe...

OK... here's what Chris Lilly says to do with my very minor changes clearly listed...

Smoked Pork Tenderloin and Spinach Salad
ala Chris Lilly

  • 1/4 Cup Vegetable oil (I used extra virgin Olive Oil)
  • 1 TBS Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 TBS Distilled Vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp Hot Sauce (I used Tabasco Brand)
  • 4 tsp Granulated Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/8 tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 3 TBS Soy Sauce
  • 2 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 TBS fresh Lemon Juice
  • 4 tsp Dark Brown Sugar (I used Light Brown Sugar)
  • 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 TBS Dark Brown Sugar (I used Light Brown Sugar)
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 1-1/2 tsp Paprika
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • Pinch of Ground Cinnamon
  • Pinch of Ground Ginger
  • And Finally... FOR THE MEAL
  • 1 Pound Pork Loin (I used a 2-1/4 pounder)
  • 5 Slices of Bacon (I used thick cut, 1/2 a pound, 8 Slices (I like Bacon))
  • 1/2 Red Onion
  • 5 Ounces (about 6 Cups) Spinach Leaves
  • 2 Clementines peeled and separated, or canned Mandarin Oranges (Note:I used "regular" Orange slices in place of the Clementines)
  • A handful of left over Strawberries, greens removed and sliced
  • a small can of sliced Waterchestnuts
  • 6 Green Onions, sliced in half lengthwise, brushed with Olive Oil and grilled
Cooking Directions
  1. Build a charcoal fire for indirect cooking by situating the coals on only one side of the grill, leaving the other side empty. Preheat the grill to 275 F.
  2. For the dressing: In a medium bowl, whisk together the vegetable oil, vinegars, hot sauce, granulated sugar, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. For the liquid seasoning: in a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of the soy sauce, olive oil, lemon juice, brown sugar, garlic powder, and pepper. Set aside.
  4. For the dry rub: In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, salt, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, pepper, cinnamon, and ginger. Season the pork tenderloin liberally with the dry rub.
  5. In a 10 inch cast iron skillet on the stovetop, cook the bacon over medium-high heat until it is crisp and browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Add the seasoned pork tenderloin to the skillet and sear for about 30 seconds on each side. Remove the skillet from the heat and pour the liquid seasoning over the pork.
  6. Put the skillet over indirect heat on the outdoor grill. Close the lid, and cook, turning once, until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 145 F. in the center of its thickest portion, about 30 minutes. Transfer the pork to a cutting board and let it rest.
  7. Put the skillet, with the cooking juices, on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Add the red onion and cook, stirring, until softened but still slightly crisp, about 4 minutes. Transfer the onions to a bowl.
  8. Rinse the skillet under running water to cool it and wipe it dry. Fill the skillet to the top rim with spinach leaves. Top the spinach with the onions, clementines, and bacon. Slice the tenderloin into medallions and arrange them on top of the salad. Drizzle the top with the dressing and serve in the cast iron skillet family style.
  9. NOTE... These are the changes I made... NONE, except I used a large serving platter instead of the more dramatic presentation of the salad served in a cast iron skillet.  I also made only a single substitution, the Orange slices in place of the clementines. I also added a few extras in the salad (strawberries, water chestnuts and grilled green onions). I only added them because I had extras around the refrigerator with no plans. Better to fancy up the salad than waste food.
  10. And ENJOY indeed!


So,  I am pleased to list this as one of my Growing list of  "52 Grilling Time Secret Extras" or "52 Ways to Cook BBQ and Grilling Recipes"!!!

Well over 52 recipes actually as I just can't stop... Over 100 in one grilling season (I love to grill!). But not just leat... Drinks, Condiments (LOTS of different BBQ sauces), Drinks, Desserts... even specialty items like GRILLED Pizza, and fun shaped Watermelons.  Easy and these ideas will make you the MASTER of your Backyard Domain!


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