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The BlueSmoke Gazette--Memorial Day Camp Cookery
May 25, 2011

Campsite Cookery on Memorial Day

For many of you, Memorial Day Weekend is the official start of the summer camping season. The days are getting warmer and the the sun hits the horizon later in the evening, giving you plenty of time to enjoy all those outdoor activities you've been missing so much. Like camping. And when camping you have to eat right, so don't forget to pack your grill, and maybe even your smoker.

I got an early start this season. I've been camping (in my travel trailer- no tents for me anymore!) for the last couple of weeks, first at Wilson Lake in Kansas and then moving on to Moab, Utah. After a few days in Moab I set up camp in the La Sal Mountains, which was really nice! If you like snow. And mud. And rain. And bears. After four or five days of that, I figured I pretty much got all the fun I could out that location and moved closer to civilization, to Moab.

For outdoor cooking, I brought my 22-1/2" Weber kettle grill and my Weber Smoky Mountain cooker. They were kind of a pain in the you-know-what to haul, but I found that by sealing them up in a few heavy duty contractor grade trash bags, they rode in the pickup bed just fine.

I've experimented with a new way of grilling that you might find interesting. When I was up in the La Sals, I grilled a pair of 2 inch thick slices of pork loin right on top of my charcoal chimney. Worked well, too. Read more about that experience below.

And whatever your plans for this weekend, whether you stay home or hit the road and go camping, be safe, have fun and eat well. Life is too short to do otherwise.

Camp Cooking

Chimney Grilled Pork Loin Steaks

On my camping trip to the La Sal mountains, rain and snow occupied a good portion of the weather. The only thing I headed outdoors for was to fire up the generator so I'd have enough battery power to run the furnace. But the weather finally cleared up, and I decided to grill a couple of nice, thick pork loin steaks.

I was planning to use my Weber kettle grill, but realized that the top of the charcoal chimney was just the right size for my pair of steaks. Why take the grill out of the bag? And I never tried grilling on a chimney before, so I figured "what the heck!"

I needed a grate of some kind, and luckily had a wire cooling rack stashed in my travel trailer. So far, so good. I filled the chimney half full of briquettes and lit them. Once they were nicely ashed over, I oiled the grate and set it on top of the chimney. The setup was a little rickety, but it was early yet, and the beers were just beginning to flow.

To keep it simple, I seasoned the pork steaks with lemon pepper seasoning and nothing more. That's one seasoning to always have on hand. Comes in handy if you're in a hurry, plus it's a good base for more complex rubs. You can combine it with black pepper, cayenne, oregano, garlic powder- whatever sounds good.

After five minutes the steaks the first side of the steaks were brown and crusty. I flipped them over, then covered them with foil to help hold the heat. At two inches thick those steaks needed some time to finish. If they were one inch, there wouldn't have been a need for the foil. (Note how I wrapped foil around the bottom of the chimney to restrict airflow and control the heat.)

I let 'em grill for ten minutes on the second side, then turned them one more time, giving them another five minutes covered with foil. When the internal temperature hit 145 degrees, I pulled them off the chimney, wrapped them in foil, and let them rest for three minutes. They were juicy and tender, with just a hint of pink color.

Now if the comment about eating pink pork bothers you, the good ol' USDA revised their guidelines for cooking pork. As of the 24th of May, 2011, the USDA proclaimed that it's safe to eat whole cuts of pork that are cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees, providing the meat is allowed to rest for at least three minutes after it's removed from the heat.

Used to be pork had to be cooked to 160 degrees, and it was always a toss up as to whether it was dry and tough, or maybe a little juicy and tender, especially with the leaner cuts. Now, with 145 degrees Fahrenheit as the new "done" temperature, your grilled pork will always be great.

Read More About the New Pork Cooking Temperature Guidelines

More Good Eatin' Ideas for Memorial Day

Meat, Seafood, Poultry

Beer Can Chicken

Grilled Ancho Butter Shrimp

Marinated Rib Eye Steaks

Teriyaki Steak Skewers

Side Dishes and Appetizers

Jalapeno Poppers

Grilled Stuffed Mushrooms

Grilled Shrimp Skewers

Grilled Asparagus Spears

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