December 17, 2011
I may not know
a lot anything about football, but I sure am learning about how football fans like to eat by working with my sister on the Huddle to Fight Hunger, the Kraft Foods initiative to raise a whole lot of money for Feeding America.
See, the Hungry Sister and I decided to team up when we learned that Kraft Foods would donate 1,000 meals to Feeding America for every recipe I posted in honor of the Huddle to Fight Hunger, an initiative to get all of us involved in helping them raise enough money to provide 25 million meals to hungry Americans.
I wanted to help Kraft do something good for the world and my sister wanted to share a little bit about the food culture of tailgating, which is a big deal where she went to college. And we all—she and I, and you, too—want to help feed hungry Americans, right?
Put it all together and throw in a dip inspired by Snickers and a Spicy Bacon Wrapped Tenderloin and you’ve got a goal.
I mean, a score.
Or, um, make that a… TOUCHDOWN!
This cream-cheese-and-jalapeno-stuffed, bacon-wrapped tenderloin would make an awesome addition to any spicy or southern-inspired holiday meal. Otherwise, make it the next time your tailgate or, if that’s not your thing, for your next party (maybe a super bowl shindig?!). And learn more about the Kraft Foods Huddle to Fight Hunger which inspired this recipe in the first place. Taking these steps helps raise money for Feeding America—helping feed the hungry is as easy as a couple of clicks:
1. Like the Kraft Foods Huddle to Fight Hunger page. Doing this donates a single meal.
2. Play the “2-Minute Trivia Drill” to donate more meals for every point you earn. Watch out—this game’s addictive! It also makes it really easy to get Kraft to put their money where their mouth is!!
3. Help spread the word by posting about the Huddle to Fight Hunger on your own Facebook page or tweet with the hashtag #KraftFightHunger. Remember: every “Like” is a meal and every single game has the potential to donate up to 9 or more (if you beat my high score!) meals.
Now, back to the food!
The idea for this recipe came straight from the Louisiana State University tailgating trenches, where fans of the number one college football team in the nation cook up football fare with creole flare. I cannot exactly claim this recipe as my own. The Hungry Sister has had it several times, prepared slightly different ways. No matter how it’s made, though, it’s pretty simple, and very delicious.
Here’s how you put this tasty roast together and what me and the Hungry Sis learned from each other shopping and cooking side-by-side.
Start with a tenderloin. I used beef, but I bet pork would be great and in Louisiana they sometimes use game meat like venison. Hunting is big there, so sometimes the meat is from an animal that one of the tailgaters has killed himself. I know. It’s brutal, I agree, but killing animals is how we get meat and, meat eaters, we must come to grips with this. I’d much rather eat an animal that lived free and was killed by a skilled hunter I know than mystery meat from the supermarket. Which brings us to the cut you see here.
My sister was comfortable buying meat at the supermarket, especially since tenderloin is a pricey cut, but I insisted on going to my butcher who sells only local, sustainably raised meat. I cannot tell a lie—2 lbs of beef tenderloin isn’t cheap. If you want to eat something like this, I suggest you treat it like a splurge. Spend the extra dough on high-quality meat and eat vegetarian the rest of the week… or the next two.
Once you have your roast, starting about 1/4 inch in from the end of the loin, cut a slit down the center that runs 3/4 deep into the thickness of the meat. Stop a 1/4 inch from the other end of the loin.
Fill the cavity you’ve created with cream cheese. I used a half block of good old Philadelphia brand cream cheese which worked beautifully and is, as the Hungry Sister pointed out, readily available. Be careful not to overstuff—the cream cheese will melt and, if there’s too much, ooze out all over the place. Plus, this is about enhancing the beef, not smothering it!
Stuff some pickled jalapenos in there, too. I wanted to use homemade pickled jalapenos—and will one day—but the Hungry Sis wanted me to use the store-bought stuff. She felt like that was more realistic (okay, fine) and a fair compromise since the store-bought kind don’t have anything crazy in them. The one think on which I insisted is that we use jarred instead of canned. When there is as an option, jarred is better since the container isn’t BPA-lined and can be more reliably recycled or easily reused.
Then it’s bacon time! Again, go for quality here, people. While you’re at the butcher getting your tenderloin, ask them to throw in some bacon. You don’t want the mass produced stuff. There’s a catch, though: I found the thicker-cut butcher bacon harder to crisp up in the time it takes to roast the tenderloin to a perfect medium-rare. Thinner bacon, cut more like the stuff you pick up at the supermarket, will crisp quickly without interfering with cooking time for your tenderloin.
Wrap the tenderloin with bacon and, if you have butcher’s twine, tie the loin to keep the bacon from unraveling. I’ve also cooked this without twine—it’ll work well enough as long as you keep the seams from the bacon on the bottom of the loin.
Rest the beautiful package on a grill or place on a rack set in a medium roasting pan and cook it up. Once done, allow the meat to rest for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving. You can serve this hot or, if you’re tailgating, room temp.
Meat that cuts like butter all crispy and smoky, spicy and creamy—this may not be the kind of food I normally cook, but it sure is delicious!
Spicy Bacon Wrapped Tenderloin
(can be adapted for kids 10+ mos)
One 2-lb beef tenderloin (you can substitute pork, venison or other game meat)
4 ounces of cream cheese
Pickled jalapenos, to taste
6-8 strips of bacon
1. If roasting the meat, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Otherwise, prep and heat your grill. Starting about 1/4 inch in from the end of the loin, cut a vertical slit down the center of the tenderloin that runs about 3/4 into the thickness of the meat. Stop a 1/4 inch from the other end of the tenderloin.
2. Mash the cream cheese to soften and work it out of its block shape. Evenly fill the cavity you cut into the meat with cream cheese.
3. Tuck jalapenos into the cream cheese. How many you use depends on your taste. Neatly lining one after another without overlap made for a nice, manageable heat.
4. Wrap the loin with bacon, slightly overlapping the pieces so that the whole loin is covered. If you do not plan on tying the loin, be sure to keep the seems on the bottom side of the tenderloin.
5. Carefully place the bacon-wrapped tenderloin on the grill or, if roasting, in the oven set on a rack placed in a medium roasting pan. Cook until the meat registers 120 F on a meat thermometer for medium-rare. This will take 45-50 minutes in the oven. Once cooked through, remove the tenderloin from the heat and allow it to rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
* Note: Though it is safe to share red meat before 10 months, it’s easiest to feed this to a child who is already safely managing small bits of tender meat. Give little ones small pieces of meat cut from the outside edge that have not touched the spicy cream cheese and jalapeno filling