Mmmmmm. Beeeeeeeeffffff.

Got my first Traegering of the year in over the weekend.

Ever since I went to Traeger Shop Class, I’ve loved the idea of the reverse sear. Let that meat cook slow and smoky, then crank the temperature to finish it off. Makes sense to me.

Don’t know about reverse searing? Well, common thought is that if you sear the meat right off, you can lock in the juices. As this was pointed out to me, that’s pure hogwash. As a dude, if you jump in to a cold swimming pool, what happens?

Shrinkage.

Seems that an extreme temperature change has the same effect. It causes the meat to clench up, so to speak. This prohibits the smoke from infusing the meat and you wind up with something that’s a little tough and not very flavorful.

That’s not how it’s supposed to work. You spend money on a quality piece of beef, you want to enjoy it. By putting that meat in the smoker right out of the refrigerator, you give it the most time to absorb the smoky goodness. That way, when you go to finish it off, the smoke has permeated the meat and you get a great taste and a very tender piece of meat.

IMG_9862The meat this time around was a four-pound beef tenderloin roast. Found on the sale rack at the local Wegman’s, it had been in my freezer for a couple of months. I have no qualms putting the meat I get from them in the freezer as it is usually vacuum packed and doesn’t need rewrapping. We were having dinner guests and I always break out the good stuff for the guests.

I’ve had a solid tenderloin recipe for years. Originally from a 1952 Junior League of San Francisco cookbook, it is perfect simplicity, Put meat in pan, slather with Kelchner’s prepared horseradish, cook, eat. It always makes for great taste, but I always thought it could be improved. I thought, why not use the Traeger and get some smoke in there?

IMG_9865Did the same prep, substituted an aluminum hotel pan and fired up the Timberline on Super Smoke. Put the meat probe in and set it for 225. Kept my eye on the probe temperature and when it got to around 105 (about 90 minutes), I goosed the cook temperature up to 400. Took the pan off when it hit 140 and let it rest for around 10 minutes.

This was the absolute best piece of beef I’ve ever cooked.

Plenty of juice, perfectly pink, great hickory flavor…

Oh, and fork tender, y’all.

I am continually amazed by what having the Traeger has brought to the kitchen arsenal. It gives so much more versatility than a standard propane grill, and it’s much easier to maintain temperature than with charcoal. The variety of pellets available gives tremendous range. If I want something with a stronger flavor, grab some hickory. If I want something with a less robust flavor, alder is the way to go. The High Priestess will look at my collection of wood pellet buckets and shake her head, but it’s worth it.

We’re getting close to Copper River salmon season. I look forward to seeing what I can do with the Traeger and a nice piece of sockeye.

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