Fort Wayne – Walk along Main Street during Berne’s upcoming Swiss Days and no doubt you’ll run into Jason Lehman grilling on a Big Green Egg, a ceramic cooker that can be used to grill as well as smoke and bake food. Lehman, a 30-year-old salesman with Hitzer Inc., grills and gives out samples to passers-by.
We started selling them here two years ago, says Lehman, a resident of Berne.
Asked whether they’ve been a big hit around the area, he replies, Yep, we just got a few out in the community and they started to sell themselves. They carry a life-time warranty. Really they’ll last forever, as long as the wind doesn’t blow them over or you hit them with a hammer.
At home, Lehman says it’s his wife, Becky, who does most of the cooking. Outside, he’s in charge of the grilling, which he does year-round.
We bake pizzas in it at home. Makes very good pizzas. It’s one of my favorites, he says.
Lehman likes to bake in the cooker, too.
Those (tropical breakfast muffins) are very good, and we made cinnamon caramel rolls, too. People think you’ll get a smoky taste but you don’t, he states.
As the father of a six-month-old daughter, Adalyn, Lehman tries to work in time for his favorite hobbies, such as playing basketball and working outside.
Adding to the list, he says with a chuckle, Be outside grilling.
Q. What’s your favorite cookbook?
A. The Big Green Egg has a cookbook. A lot of time, that’s my start, and then I’ll tweak it or add a few things.
Q. What’s your favorite cooking utensil?
A. I guess for me, this PigTail Food Flipper (www.pigtailff.com). You can use it to turn anything. It’s a product for people who grill.
Q. What’s your go-to meal?
A. Pork loin. I like to do half of a large pork loin. Whenever we have parties or get-togethers, that’s what I make.
Q. What vegetable do you eat most often?
A. Oh, corn. And I like to grill that, too. I was getting excited for the sweet corn to come off so I can grill some.
Q. Who’s your cooking idol?
A. I’d say my mom, Cindy Lehman. She’s always done really well with things and trying different things.
Q. How would you describe your cooking style?
A. Sweet and heat. On pork loin, you make it sweet with the brown sugar, and you’ve got the chili powder to add heat to the sweet.
Grilled Sugar-Dipped Pineapple
1 ripe pineapple
1 stick butter, melted
1 cup turbinado (or regular) sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Zest from one large lime
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Dark rum, optional
Vanilla ice cream, optional
Preheat grill to 450 to 500 degrees. Cut the top and rind off the pineapple and core it. Slice it into discs about 3/8 to 1/2 -inch thick.
Place melted butter in a shallow dish. Mix sugar, cinnamon, lime zest and cloves in another dish.
Dip each pineapple slice in the butter and give the excess butter a chance to drip off a bit. Next, dip the slice in the sugar mixture to coat lightly. Place on grill and grill slices for about 5 minutes per side or until they are browned or even slightly charred.
Remove from grill and place on a serving plate. Serve immediately. Sprinkle the slices with dark rum right after taking them off grill and serve with ice cream. Makes 5 to 6 servings.
Chili-Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Caramelized Blackberry Sauce
2 (1-pound) pork tenderloins, trimmed
Olive oil, as needed
1 tablespoon chili powder
Kosher salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 1/4 cups blackberry preserves
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Preheat oven or Big Green Egg to 350 degrees. Brush tenderloins with olive oil and season with the chili powder, salt and pepper. Set aside.
Add the sugar to a small saucepan on the stovetop and cook over medium heat until the sugar is melted and caramelized. Add the vinegar, preserves and chicken stock; whisk together. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
Remove the saucepan from the heat, add butter and stir well. Season with salt and pepper. Place the pork on the Big Green Egg grid and close the lid or place in oven. Cook for about 1 1/2 hours or until meat thermometer reads 145 degrees.
Remove from grill or oven, slice and serve with blackberry sauce. Makes 12 to 16 servings.
Tropical Breakfast Muffins
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup half-and-half
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon coconut extract
2 cups diced fresh pineapple
1 1/2 cups shredded, sweetened coconut (4 ounces)
1 cup crushed macadamia nuts
8 ounces white chocolate chunks
Preheat oven or Big Green Egg to 400 degrees. Butter and flour muffin pans; do not use paper liners.
Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar in small bowl. Add butter, half-and-half, eggs and coconut extract; mix well. Next, stir in the pineapple, coconut, macadamia nuts and white chocolate chunks into the batter. Batter will be thick.
Using a spoon, fill the muffin pans three quarters full. Close the Egg or oven and bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick insert comes out clean. Remove and let cool in pans. Makes 1 dozen.