Season 17, Episode 25 Recap: How to Make the Best Smoked Pork Loin

Plus, Adam reviews grill gadgets, and Becky makes sweet potato soup.

Published June 26, 2017.

This episode of America’s Test Kitchen opens with Julia Collin Davison and Bridget Lancaster discussing the common pitfalls of cooking pork loin on the grill, before heading outside to solve for those pitfalls. Later, Adam Ried discusses the merits (or lack thereof) of various grill gadgets. Finally, Becky Hays shows Bridget how to make sweet potato soup.

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"Summer Pork Supper"

On this episode of ATK, hosts Bridget Lancaster and Julia Collin-Davison make a killer recipe for smoked pork loin, Adam Ried reviews grill gadgets, and Becky Hays makes sweet potato soup.   
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Five Takeaways from the Episode

1. If You’re Going to Cook Pork Loin on the Grill, Go with a Blade-End Roast: Blade-end loins come from the part of the pig closest to the shoulder, and therefore has more fat content than a center-cut loin. Pork loin is lean and prone to drying out—going with the fattier roast will put you at an advantage when cooking pork loin on the grill.

2. Why Tie a Roast with Twine, Anyway?: Because tying a roast with twine ensures a more uniformly circular roast, and a more uniformly circular roast ensures more even cooking.

3. When Trying to Keep the Heat Consistent on a Charcoal Grill, Start with Unlit Charcoal: When setting up your charcoal grill for your pork tenderloin, line the bottom of the grill opposite the water pan with 25 unlit charcoal briquettes. Keeping a grill at a consistent 300 degrees for an hour and a half to two hours can be difficult, but that’s where the unlit coals come into play. Simply top the unlit coals with lit coals—the unlit coals will gradually light, keeping your grill’s heat at a consistent temperature over time.

4. In the Market for a Barbecue Basting Brush? Consider the Bristles: Too many bristles, and you’ll have difficulty controlling the brush as you baste that delicious rack of ribs. Too few bristles, and you’ll have difficulty covering the rack with sauce in the first place. Look for a barbecue brush that’s comfortable in the hand, controllable, and has enough bristles to cover whatever it is you’re basting (but not so many that it becomes unwieldy).

5. The Key to Sweet Potato Soup with Real Sweet Potato Flavor? Save the Peels: Sweet potato peels contain a compound called methoxypyrazine, which is what gives them their earthy taste. Adding a quarter of the peels to the soup imbues some depth without making the soup taste too vegetal.

 Quote of the Week: “After the first caveman discovered fire, his first words were probably, ‘Where are my grilling tools?’” —Bridget Lancaster, on the origins of grill gear

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