The Sabor Latio Crowd’s Annual Christmas Party

24 Dec

Every other Friday night of the year, you can find anywhere from 4 to 14 of us at Manuel and Linda’s Sabor Latino restaurant in Homewood, Alabama enjoying cold and frozen adult beverages, chips and salsa, cheese dip and great Peruvian and Mexican food – but mostly enjoying the end of the week with our friends and families. It is a tradition that has carried on for – who knows – maybe 8 years – and counting. We all look forward all week to “Sabor Night” and, since Melissa and I started getting into cooking, that is really the only night of the week we regularly eat out.

One night a year, however, we leave the restaurant with Manuel, Linda, their daughter Lilly and her husband Gustavo, and we hold the Sabor Latio Crowd’s Christmas Party. The location varies, of course, as does the menu, but the crowd is the same, and usually includes the entire crowd, all the kids and special guests (like my mother-in-law and neighbors).

This year, the party was out our house. Melissa and I decided we would do beef tenderloin, baked cheese grits and strawberry, feta and spinach salad, along with her Red Velvet Cheesecake. Our Bourbon n Que Tailgate Crew “Bourbon Slushies” formed the centerpiece for the libations.

Melissa handled the indoor chores while I prepped the tenderloins, cleaned off the patio and laid the pinion wood in the firepit for the traditional “men standing around an open fire” part of the evening.

For the tenderloin, I decided to do a combination cook of sear and smoke-roast. Here is the set up:

The set up consisted of the Weber Q320 and the Traeger Texas Grill. I heated the Q320 up to about 500 degrees – I had seasoned the new cast iron grates last weekend – and got the Traeger Texas Grill rollin’ in pecan pellet smoke at about 300 degrees.

The tenderloin was trimmed, “tied” with silicon bands for shape, and then seasoned with canola oil, salt, pepper, and “The Slabs.Com Wow Up Your Cow” rub.  Here’s the “before” picture:

I seared the tenderloins on the Q300 for about 10 minutes, rotating each roast slightly every two minutes or so, taking advantage of the cast iron grates to give me some great grill marks and caramelization. I should mention that Assistant Pit Master Andy Cook came over to help with the cooking and provided excellent conversation during the process. In addition to the conversation, we enjoyed a couple of beverages, which could be the reason there are no “after” pictures of the tenderloins! However, after the sear and after about an hour on the Traeger, my Thermapen was reading about 125 so it was time to pull the meat and let it rest. We tucked the roast, loosely tented with some foil, in the microwave to rest until it was time to slice. I sliced the roasts just as the first guests arrived and found them a perfect medium rare, with a spicy crust all the way around. We sliced them thin for eating with yeast rolls, dressed with chipotle mustard or garlic and herb mayonnaise. Mostly, however, I just grabbed a slice every time I walked past the table!

Other members of the crowd contributed other wonderful homemade treats and by the time all the food and drink were consumed, and the firepit had burned down, the kids had watched “A Christmas Story” for the 112th time, it was time to declare the annual Sabor Latino Crowd’s Christmas Party an overwhelming success. A Merry Christmas to all – may you have a quiet, cozy, comfortable and peaceful Christmas.


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