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with "Rockin' Ronnie" Shewchuk
Bestselling Cookbook Author and International Barbecue Champion

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Planked Pork Loin Roast
with Whiskey-Apricot Glaze

I have been having a lot of fun these days developing recipes for my next cookbook, Planking Secrets. One of the things I’ve been finding out is that pork is great when baked in the grill on a cedar plank. The aromatic, spicy, mildly astringent flavour of the cedar smoke nicely complements the sweetness and richness of the pork.

The trick with plank-cooking a roast this big is to get the plank smoldering on a high or medium-high heat, and then turn it down to medium as soon as you get the meat on. NOTE: Keep a spray bottle of water nearby, and if you get any flare-ups around the corners of the plank, just spray them with water to put them out. Serves 4 – 6.

1   cedar cooking plank, soaked at least 2 hours, preferably overnight
1   3 - lb. pork loin roast with a 1/8 inch fat cap
    Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup   Dijon mustard
1/4 cup   Jack Daniel’s Tenessee Whiskey
1/4 cup   brown sugar
1/4 cup   apricot jam
    a pinch of cayenne pepper
1   14-oz. can apricot halves in light syrup
    Sprigs of fresh parsley or thyme for garnish

Open the can of apricots and drain the syrup into a medium-sized saucepan, reserving the apricots. To the syrup, add the Dijon mustard, Jack Daniel’s, brown sugar, apricot jam, and cayenne. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a low boil, stirring to melt the sugar and the jam. When it looks like a smooth, fairly thick sauce (about five minutes), take it off the heat and set it in a bowl of ice cubes to cool. When the mixture has cooled, divide it in half. Combine half of the sauce with the apricot halves and store them in the fridge in a plastic container.

Lightly score the fat cap of the pork loin in a diamond pattern, season it with salt and pepper, and set the meat on a sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil. Spoon the remaining half of the mustard-whiskey mixture over the loin and pat it all over to coat. Wrap the foil around the meat, sealing it as best you can and place the wrapped loin in the meat drawer of your fridge. Let it sit for a couple of hours at least, but overnight if possible.

Prepare your grill for direct high heat and place the soaked plank on the grill, closing the cover. When the plank starts to crackle and smoke, place the marinated pork loin on the plank fat-side up and immediately reduce the heat to medium. Cover the grill and cook for one hour, checking periodically for flare-ups.

At the one-hour mark, take the apricots out of the sauce mixture and place them on the plank next to the roast. Baste the roast with some of the sauce and cook for about another ten or twenty minutes, until the internal temperature of the roast reaches 140°F/60°C. Take off the roast and lightly tent it in foil. Transfer the apricot halves to a cutting board and coarsely chop them. Warm the remaining sauce on the stovetop or in the microwave and add the chopped apricots. Let the roast rest for at least 15 minutes (while it’s resting, roast some vegetables on the grill). Carve the roast into 1/2-inch slices and serve on warmed plates with a spoonful of the sauce and the roasted vegetables on the side and, if you like, some mashed potatoes. Garnish with a sprig of parsley or thyme.

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