Grilled Pork Roast with Port/Vidalia/Fig Sauce

Grilled Pork Roast with Port/Vidalia/Fig Sauce
Serves 4

Recipe for the sauce:
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 large Vidalia onion, sliced thinly, then quartered
1 tablespoon flour (any type)
1 cup port wine
4 figs, stems removed and halved

  1. Preheat a non-stick skillet over med-high heat.
  2. Add the coconut oil. (You can use any type of oil, but caramelized onions made with coconut oil creates a delicious flavor combination.)
  3. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the onion, and turn heat down to medium. Season the onions with a bit of black pepper. 
  4. Let the onions slowly caramelize. This will take 20-25 minutes. Don’t rush it. Cooking them fast will fry them crispy. The idea here is to make them convert their sugars into caramel and break down all the cell stucture. They will end up incredibly fragrant and soft.
  5. When the onions are fully caramelized, sprinkle the flour over them and stir to combine.
  6. Increase the heat to medium-high.
  7. Slowly pour the port into the onions, whisking constantly.
  8. When the sauce coats the back of a spoon, lay the figs in the sauce and let them get warm. 
  9. Serve over sliced pork.
Fig season is relatively short. Enjoy them while you can find them.

Nutritional data for 2 tablespoons sauce and 2 fig halves.:
Calories:        133
Fat:                3.7g
Sat fat:           3.1g
Chol:                0g
Sodium:     4.5mg
Carbs:         14.9g
Fiber:            2.1g
Protein:         0.9g

Tips for roasting a pork half loin on a grill:
When cooking a pork half loin on the grill, I like to season it with something good, like Penzey’s Bavarian Style seasoning.

I also do not place the roast directly on the grate, but I also do not use a pan. I want the heat to directly roast the meat, without it sticking to the grill. My solution is to take a handful of herbs from my garden (usually a few rosemary branches and make some basil boughs) and place those on the grill, and then the roast on top. The herbs will mostly burn (eventually) but they will infuse the meat with their gentle flavors.

You may be wondering what is sticking out of the top of the roast. That is my secret weapon for grilling food that is fully cooked, but still moist. That is a Taylor Digital Cooking Thermometer/Timer. You set the desired tempurature of doneness (145F for pork roasts), and then you can let it go. It has an alarm that sounds when the temp is reached.

When your roast hits 145F, remove it from the grill, tent it with some aluminum foil and let it rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting it.

That knife you see is a very nice knife, an 8 inch chef’s knife, that I bought at IKEA. You can get a similar knife from Amazon. The patterns in the blade is called Damascus steel, and is made be repeated heating in forge, hammering flat, folding over and then repeating if many times. There are master knifemakers who still make them in that method, each knife taking more than a day to craft. Those knives sell for $200-400 per INCH of blade! I paid less than $50 for mine, and the knife that I show you in the Amazon link is $111.00. A Damascus blade tends to keep it’s edge longer, and I just love mine.

My dream is to own one of those handmade works of kitchen cutlery art. It will happen!

Note: the links to Amazon are an affiliate links. That means if you click on those and buy one something, I will receive a small commission. It does not change your cost at all, but it will help me continue to provide recipes and advice here and in my podcast Make Your Someday Today

Grilled Prosciutto-Wrapped Fresh Figs

Grilled Prosciutto-Wrapped Fresh Figs
Serves 4

4 fresh figs
2 ounces very thinly sliced prosciutto (approximately 8 slices)

Wrap each fig with the prosciutto, and secure with toothpicks. (If you can’t find prosciutto, you could try very thinly sliced bacon.)

Preheat your grill on high for 5 minutes.
Place the figs on the grate. Turn often so that all side cook, but not become burned.
Serve warm.

    So easy. So elegant. The grill intensifies the sugars, and makes the fig softer, but not mushy. The prosciutto adds a velvety texture from the fat as it melts into the fig, and the meat is lightly smokey. The contrast between sweet and savory is wonderful.
    Make these while you can still find fresh figs!

    Nutritional data (per fig):
    Calories:         67
    Fat:                 1.7g
    Sat fat:            0.5g
    Chol:         12.5mg
    Sodium:  230.5mg
    Carbs:            9.6g
    Fiber:             1.5g
    Protein:          4.4g
    These would be incredible as a starter or a dessert. I think that since this is a sweet and slightly fatty dish, a semi-dry sparkling wine (possible a Moscato d’Asti) would be a nice match.

    Grilled Jalapeno Poppers

    Grilled Jalapeno Poppers
    Makes 4 servings (4 halves each)
    8 jalapenos, halved and seeded
    4 tablespoons goat cheese (or low fat cream cheese)
    4 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
    4 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese
    4 tablespoons minced green onion
    1.  Prepare jalapenos. If your hands are sensitive, wear gloves.
    2.  Fill each half with approximately 1 tablespoon of the filling.
    3.  Preheat the grill.
    4.  Place peppers on grill, over direct heat, skin-side down. 
    5.  Remove peppers when the skin begins to char.
    6.  Serve warm or cold.
    Nutritional Data
    Calories:           64
    Fat:                 3.0g
    Sat fat:            1.7g
    Chol:             10mg
    Sodium:       120mg
    Carbs:             5.2g
    Fiber:              0.9g

    Protein:           4.5g 

    Grown Up Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

    Grown Up Grilled Cheese
    Serves 1

    This is the sort of “Comfort Food” that my guests on my Make Your Someday Today podcast will talk about in our interviews. Comfort foods do just that. They make us feel safe, secure and warm. They tell us that everything will be all right, that success will arrive, but only if we get moving toward.

    2 slices of your preferred bread
    2 slices of your preferred cheese
    2-3 slices of tomato
    1 jalapeno cut into strips
    1/4 avocado, sliced
    1 teaspoon Vegemite (optional)
    1 tablespoon mayonnaise

    1. Prepare your ingredients. Preheat non-stick griddle or skillet.
    2. Spread the Vegemite on one slice of cheese (optional).
    3. Spread the mayonnaise on one side of each slice of bread.
    4. Lay the bread mayo-side DOWN on griddle.
    5. Lay the Vegemite spread cheese on the bread, Vegemite down.
    6. Arrange the remaining ingredients on the cheese.
    7. Top with second piece of cheese and bread, mayo-side UP.
    8. Grilled until the edge gets brown (2-4 minutes, depending on the heat.)
    9. With a spatula, carefully flip and grill the second side.

    Nutritional data:
    Calories:       274
    Fat:             16.8g
    Sat fat:          5.7g
    Chol:           25mg
    Sodium:     354mg
    Carbs:            25g
    Fiber:            6.9g
    Protein:          14g

    Please be aware that those nutritional numbers are specific to my sandwich. Adding to deleting ingredients, using different cheese, or not using Vegemite will change all the numbers.

    Served with Wisco Disco, a great American Amber Ale

    Make Your Someday Today is a twice-weekly podcast, where we talk to successful people in all walks of life and around the world on Monday, and then on Thursday, I take a specific message from the previous guest and give my “Trevitorial”, where I help you apply that message to your life. The entire purpose of the show is to help all of us overcome our challenges and fears and become the person we want to be, the person we deserve to be.

    Christmas Dinner

    I had never made a boneless New York Strip roast before, and I broke my cardinal rule of party planning (never make a dish for the first time the day of the party.)

    Fortunately, as you can see above, all went well. That was a six pound roast, rubbed with my garlic-olive oil paste, onion and fresh cracked black pepper. I placed the roast in an foil baking pan, because I wanted to roast this, not grill it I preheated the grill on high for about ten minutes. My grill has four burners so when I put the pan on the grill, I turned off the two burners directly under the roast, and adjusted the remaining two so that my grill thermometer read 300F (This would be the same if you did this in your oven. If you do this in your oven, start with your oven at 500F for 10 minutes, then turn is down to 300F.)

    I used a meat thermometer, the type that stays in the meat while it is cooking, and is connected to a meter outside the grill or oven. If you do any amount of roasting, either grill or oven, I really recommend that you use a thermometer like this. You can set it to ring at your desired finished temperature and you will never overcook your food again.

    The roast was the main part of the meal, and the part I was most stressed about. Everything else went smoothly. Tammy would pop into the kitchen from time to time, just to make sure everything was progressing. I made a loaf of bread which finished at the perfect time for me to start roasting the carrots. They take about 25 minutes under 450F and then another 10 minutes after adding the peas to the pan.

    The bowl mixed greens and chopped pears was ready to be topped with the maple-mustard vinaigrette (with bleu cheese and walnuts on the side for those who want the full salad.)

    The roast had just reached it’s finished temperature (143F) and I had pulled it off the grill. The carrots were about 10 minutes away from needing the peas to be added when Tammy pops in to ask “How are the carrots and potatoes going?”


    Oh, no!!!!!

    I dumped two pounds of fingerling potatoes onto a shallow jelly roll pan, drizzled olive oil, tosses with some salt and pepper and put it on the bottom rack of the hot oven. When I added the peas to the carrots, the potatoes were sizzling, and when the carrots were ready, so were the potatoes! Whew!

    Everything works out!

    I hope everyone enjoys your new year! I will still be here!

    (P.S.: Next time, I will take the roast off the grill at 140F for a little closer to medium-rare.)

    Roasted Eggplant and Feta Dip

    Roasted Eggplant and Feta Dip
    Serves: 24 (2 tablespoon serving)

    Eggplants (enough to equal about 1 pound)
    3 tablespoons olive oil
    2 tablespoons lemon juice
    1/4 cup onion, finely minced
    1 jalapeno chili, seeded, finely minced
    1/4 cup red bell pepper, finely minced
    1/4 cup feta cheese

    1. Preheat the oven to 400F (or preheat the grill on high)
    2. Roast the eggplant (either method) turning every 5 minutes or so, until the skin begins to char the the fruit is soft.
    3. Remove and set aside to cool.
    4. When cool, slice and scrape into a bowl. Add oil and lemon juice.
    5. Mash with a fork until mixed but still lumpy.
    6. Add all remaining ingredients. Mix to combine.
    Nutritional data:
    Calories:        34
    Fat:              2.5g
    Sat fat:         0.7g
    Chol:         2.7mg
    Sodium:   35.3mg
    Carbs:          2.7g
    Fiber:           1.4g
    Protein:        0.9g

    Asparagus and Bleu Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts

    Asparagus and Bleu Cheese Stuffed Grilled Chicken Breast
    Serves 4

    4 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless (approximately 6 ounces each)
    1 cup asparagus, cut into 1 inch lengths
    1 ounce bleu cheese
    1 ounce cream cheese
    1/2 tablespoon olive oil
    Spices and herbs of your choice (I used Penzey’s Greek Seasoning)

    1. Preheat your grill on high.
    2. Carefully cut into the side of the chicken breast, making a pocket. Do not cut all the way through.
    3. Combine the cheeses and herbs.
    4. Spread 1/4 of the cheese mixture in each pocket. 
    5. Fill the pockets with the asparagus.
    6. Use a toothpick to keep the pocket closed.
    7. Rub the chicken with the olive oil.
    8. Clean the grill’s grates with your grill brush. With additional cooking oil, a paper towel and long tongs, rub oil on the grates.
    9. Lay the chicken on your prepared grill.
    10. Let cook for 4-5 minutes, then flip and grill another 4-5 minutes.
    Nutritional data:
    Calories:      290
    Fat:             12g
    Sat fat:       4.9g
    Chol:      109mg
    Sodium:  176mg
    Carbs:        2.3g
    Fiber:         0.7g
    Protein:    41.9g

    Grilled Peach with Balsamic Reduction

    Grilled Peach with Balsamic Reduction
    Serves 2

    1 peach
    1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
    1/8 cup crushed pecans
    Whipped topping or ice cream

    1. Preheat your grill on high for 5 minutes.
    2. In a small non-stick skillet over med-high heat, toast the pecans until they become fragrant (2-3 minutes.) Remove from heat.
    3. In the same skillet, add vinegar and increase the heat to high. Bring to a boil. Let is reduce in volume by half. This will go quickly (1-3 minutes), stay by the stove. Turn the heat off.
    4. Cut your peach in half and remove the stone.
    5. Lay the peach, cut side down on the grill. Leave in place until grill marks form, about 2 minutes. (The sugars in the peach will start to get caramelize and you will smell the wonderful aroma.)
    6. Turn the heat down, and leave the peach in place another 2-3 minutes, until it gets warm.
    7. Serve the peach half on whipped topping or ice cream, topped with half the pecans and balsamic syrup.
    8. Omit whipped cream to make this vegan.
    Note: The next time I make this, I will cut the peach into four or six wedges, and grill both cut sides.
    Normally, I don’t like peaches (I usually find them to be cloyingly sweet), but this peach had such a different flavor from the grilling process and then topping it with the sweet-tart balsamic syrup made this a wonderful dessert.
    For nutritional data, the only data of concern is the peach. The vinegar adds very little. If you eat it without whipped topping or ice cream, you only need to add the calories present in the peach.

    Grilled Pizzas (Version 2)

    Each Serves 1

    Cheesy Garlic Bread
    1 teaspoon olive oil
    1 clove garlic, mashed and minced
    2 tablespoons (1/2 ounce) shredded mozzarella cheese

    Bacon Cheeseburger Pizza
    One half of a large hamburger bun
    1 tablespoon tomato paste
    1 slice medium onion, grilled
    1 ounce browned ground beef
    1 slice cheddar cheese

    Reuben Pizza
    One half of a large hamburger bun
    1 tablespoon low fat mayonnaise
    1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
    1 ounces deli corned beef
    2 tablespoons sauerkraut
    1 slice Swiss cheese

    Philly Cheesesteak Pizza
    One half of a large hamburger bun
    1 teaspoon olive oil
    Your preferred herb blend (I used Penzey’s Sunny Paris.)
    2 ounces sliced beef
    1 ounce fire-roasted sweet bell peppers
    1 slice medium onion, grilled
    2 tablespoons (1/2 ounce) shredded mozzarella cheese

    Chicken-Basil Sausage Pizza
    One half of a large hamburger bun
    1 tablespoon tomato paste
    1/2 of cooked chicken sausage (Al Fresco All Natural Sun-Dried Tomato is great), sliced
    1 slice medium onion, grilled
    2 tablespoons shredded mozzarella

    Pepperoni Pizza
    One half of a large hamburger bun
    1 tablespoon tomato paste
    Your preferred herbs (I used Penzey’s Tuscan Sunset.)
    7 slices pepperoni
    2 tablespoons shredded mozzarella


    1. Preheat grill on high for 10 minutes.
    2. For each pizza, spread the sauce/oil on the bun, and then top with the ingredients in that order.
    3. Place on grill, over indirect heat (only half the burners on–pizzas go over the cold burners.)
    4. Grill until the cheese gets melted.

    Nutritional data:
                   Cheesy      Bacon     Reuben     Philly   Chicken   Pepperoni
                     Bread     Cheese                                  Sausage        

    Calories       146          292          317          215        182           143

    Fat:             7.8g         15.3g       21.6g         9.8g      6.4g           7.2g
    Sat fat:        2.2g              8g         7.5g         2.9g      2.5g          3.1g
    Chol:        7.5mg         55mg        50mg      43mg     40mg        19mg
    Sodium:   223mg       356mg      907mg     295mg   434mg      359mg
    Carbs:       14.6g         2 1.2g       17.3g       14.7g       18g        13.2g
    Fiber:          0.4g              2g            2g         1.2g      1.9g          1.3g
    Protein:          5g         17.4g           12g       17.4g    12.6g          6.3g

    From the top center, moving clockwise:  Cheesy Garlic Bread, Bacon Cheeseburger, 
    Reuben, Philly Cheesesteak, Chicken Sausage, Pepperoni.

    How to grill an onion slice:

    Slice onion thickly. Slide a skewer through as shown. Brush with a bit of oil. Grill until finished.

    Tasting notes:

    1. The Cheesy Garlic bread needed more garlic and maybe a bit more cheese.
    2. The Reuben was killer!
    3. The rest were all very good and simple.
    4. I found that toasting the bread before making the pizza (as in the previous recipes) is an unnecessary step.
    5. Using hamburger buns in this manner will allow everyone to make their own pizza exactly as they want it (or them?) All it will take is a supply of sauces and various toppings for a very simple pizza party.

    Grilled French Bread Pizzas–Four Ways

    Grilled French Bread Pizzas, Four Ways
    Each pizza serves 2 or more, depending on if used as a meal or appetizer

    French bread loaf, 12 inches (approximately)
    Your choice of toppings (your options are infinite.) I used (from top to bottom):

    Cheesy Garlic Bread
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 large garlic clove, crushed and minced
    1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded mozzarella

    Bacon Cheeseburger Pizza
    1 tablespoon bacon grease (you can use olive oil if you prefer)
    2 tablespoon tomato paste
    4 ounces ground beef, cooked
    2 strips bacon, cooked and chopped
    2 slices cheddar cheese (sharp if possible) or 2 ounces shredded

    Olive, Mushroom & Spinach Pizza
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 large garlic clove, crushed and minced
    1/2 can (4 ounce can) mushrooms (I use Pennsylvania Dutch brand, no added salt)
    4 green olives, sliced thinly
    4 Kalamata olive, sliced thinly
    1 ounce fresh baby spinach, chopped finely
    1 ounce (1/4 cup) shredded mozzarella

    Mushroom & Swiss Pizza
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 large garlic clove, crushed and minced
    8 ounces fresh crimini mushrooms, sliced
    1/2 medium onion, sliced
    2 slices Swiss cheese (or 2 ounces)

    The instructions are basically the same for each and only vary with the difference in toppings.

    1. Preheat your grill in high, or set your oven’s broiler on high.
    2. Cut the loaf in half, lengthwise. 
    3. Carefully remove as much the bread from the cut face of each half, creating a long bowl for the crust. When finished, each shell should weight about 2 or 2.5 ounces. (Save the removed bread to make bread crumbs, if you want.)
    4. Evenly spread the oil (or bacon grease) over the cut surface (not the crust). Spread garlic if the recipe calls for it.
    5. Prepare all fillings. If you didn’t cook the ground beef specifically for this recipe, warm it in a microwave oven in a skillet on the stove. (Do the same for the bacon.) Slice and chop all ingredients, and pre-measure the cheeses if needed.
    6. For the mushroom filling, preheat a nonstick skillet. Add a bit of cooking spray. Saute the onions and mushrooms until everything is softened the the mushrooms have released their water.
    7. When all toppings are ready, take the bread to the grill. Turn the heat to low and lay them, cut side DOWN, on the grill. Don’t walk away. The crusts go from raw to crispy to burned with very little time in between those stages. (Mine were getting close to burnt!)  This will take 1-2 minutes. If you are using your broiler, place them cut side UP, and give them the same 1-2 minutes. The idea is to crisp the crust, and help it resist absorbing any juices from the fillings and getting soggy.
    8. Take the crusts back to your work area. Fill the crusts in the order that they are given.
    9. Return the pizzas to the grill or broiler (in both cases, cut side UP.) 
    10. Remove when the cheese is melted.
    11. Let rest briefly, then cut and serve.
    Nutritional data (per half of one pizza):
                 Cheesy Bread    Bacon-Cheese  Olive & Spinach   Mush & Swiss
    Calories       160                     322                    202                       245
    Fat:             9.4g                     19g                 12.5g                    13.3g
    Sat fat:        2.4g                    9.1g                   2.6g                      5.1g
    Chol:        7.6mg                  54mg                7.5mg                    20mg
    Sodium:   227mg                328mg                550mg                  209mg
    Carbs:       14.4g                  17.9g                  16.9g                       22g
    Fiber:          0.4g                    1.1g                   1.5g                      1.5g
    Protein:       5.2g                  19.1g                    6.6g                    11.2g
    Note: This is my first attempt at these recipes, and I liked the crispy crust. At Tammy’s request, I will try these techniques again, but not toast the bread initially for a softer crust. I will also use some different fillings (yet to be decided.) I will post the results here, later this week.