Holiday Eats All Wrapped Up
Food and Drink

Holiday Eats All Wrapped Up

Food comes enveloped in the best of wrappings—sizzling bacon, crusty dough, even a mantle of roasted meat. So at this time of year when good things come concealed in wrapped packages, here’s some select recipes of edible delights where the wrapping is often the tastiest part.

Grilled Prosciutto-wrapped Brie

Recipe & photo courtesy of Adam McKenzie (

"This is very forgiving. If you don’t cook it enough, it’s still runny good. If you cook it too much, it’s just runnier."

Serves: 6


1 wheel of Brie

1 small jar jam (sour cherry, fig or any flavor)

15 slices prosciutto

Preheat the grill/smoker to 225°F for indirect heat.

Arrange the prosciutto slices in a circle overlapping each other by a third to a half. Place the Brie wheel in the center of the slices.

Spread a thick layer of the jam over the top of the cheese wheel. Fold the meat slices up over the cheese, encasing it entirely.

Place the cheese bundle on a sheet pan (I use the Yukon Glory flat pan) and set it directly on the grates over indirect heat. Cook until the cheese feels soft and melty, about 30 minutes.

Cool down for about 5 minutes. Cut it open with a sharp knife and let the cheese ooze out some. Serve with crackers.

Stuffed Venison Backstrap with Walnut, Sage & Cremini Mushroom

Reprinted with permission from Hardcore Carnivore by Jess Pryles, Agate Surrey, 2018. Photo credit: The photo credit should read, Photograph from Hardcore Carnivore by Jess Pryles, photo © Mark Roper, courtesy of Murdoch Books.

"Some folks call it loin, others call it backstrap – whatever you call it, don’t cut it up into steaks! Whole stuffed venison backstrap is an easy, delicious recipe! "Chiffonade" is just a fancy way of referring to very thinly slicing a herb - you can also just finely chop the sage leaves."

Serves: 6


3 tablespoons oil, divided

8 ounces cremini mushrooms, finely diced

2 shallots, finely diced

8 large sage leaves, chiffonade

¾ cup walnuts

½ teaspoon salt, plus extra for seasoning

¼ teaspoon pepper

¼ teaspoon ground allspice (optional)

3  tablespoons breadcrumbs

3  tablespoons melted butter

1 whole venison backstrap (about 2 pounds)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a saucepan over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of the oil and cook the mushrooms, shallots and sage leaves until softened. Allow the mixture to cool, and drain off any excess liquid the mushrooms released during cooking.

Toast the walnuts in a frying pan without any oil, stirring regularly to avoid burning, until fragrant. Chop and add to the mushroom mix.

Add salt, pepper, allspice and breadcrumbs. Stir to combine. Add the melted butter and stir once more until everything is well mixed.

Butterfly the backstrap so it’s flat and even, and spread the stuffing mixture in a log across the middle. Pull the backstrap back together, forming a cylinder around the stuffing, and secure with twine. Season the outside well with salt.

In a cast-iron skillet (or heavy based pan), heat the remaining oil until nearly smoking, then sear the stuffed loin about 2 minutes per side until completely browned all over. Place the skillet in the oven, and cook a further 4 to 6 minutes. It’s important to not overcook the backstrap, as it will become tough.

Remove from the skillet, and rest under foil for 8 to 10 minutes before slicing 1-inch thick portions and serving.

Bacon-wrapped Pretzels

Recipe and photo: Courtesy of Creative Culinary (

"Your guests will not be able to resist the sweet and spicy flavor of Bacon Wrapped Pretzels, So, go ahead and make a double batch."

Makes: about 36 pieces


1 package pretzel rods

1 pound bacon (not thick cut)

2 cups brown sugar

3–4 tablespoons red chili powder (or more, if you want it really spicy)

1–2 dashes (or three!) cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Break the pretzels in half. I have the best luck if I cut them with a very sharp knife. Cut the bacon slices in half.

Mix the brown sugar, chili powder and cayenne in a medium-size bowl and spread the mixture out in a large flat dish.

Coat each strip of bacon on both sides with the brown-sugar mixture, pressing firmly to make sure a lot of it adheres.

Wrap a bacon piece around each piece of pretzel. Place it on a wire rack placed on top of a baking sheet or roasting pan. Try to make sure the tail end of the bacon is on the bottom to avoid it unwrapping during baking.

Bake 10–15 minutes or until bacon cooks and appears crisp. Remove from the oven and let cool on the wire rack, rearranging occasionally while cooling so they don’t stick to the rack. Do not put these on paper towels or they stick.

Note: For easy clean up, line the baking sheet with aluminum foil. After baking, pitch the foil, fill the pan with hot water, and put the wire rack the water upside down to soak. The caramel bacon yucky stuff will melt away.

Savory Squash Pie with Tart Apples and Sweet Onion

Courtesy of Russ Faulk, Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet; photo: Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet

"Your guests will not be able to resist the sweet and spicy flavor of Bacon Wrapped Pretzels, So, go ahead and make a double batch."

Serves: 8


1 whole large acorn squash

2 9-inch rolled frozen pie crusts, such as Pillsbury

2 cups grated manchego cheese

2 granny smith apples, cored and thinly sliced (skins left on)

1 cup sweet onion, quartered, then thinly sliced

1 cup dried cranberries

3  eggs

1  cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt

¼ teaspoon ground white pepper

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces

2 cups alder wood chips, soaked

Prepare the grill for indirect cooking at 350° to 375°F.

Place the whole squash in the indirect zone with the hood closed. Cook until softened, about 45 minutes, turning once.

Remove from the grill and allow to cool. You may also choose to roast the squash in an oven at the same temperature without any appreciable difference in flavor. The squash may be roasted up to an hour ahead of the pie preparation.

Cut the squash in half. Remove and discard the seeds. Remove all the flesh from the shells and discard the shells. Slice the squash about ¼-inch thick. Line a 9-inch. cast-iron skillet or heavy, ceramic pie plate with the bottom pie crust. Trim off any excess at the skillet’s edge.

Proceed to fill the pie, beginning with a thin layer of manchego cheese, followed by thin layers of apples, onions, squash and dried cranberries, using about 1/3 of each per layer. Repeat the layering two more times. The pie should be over-filled and quite tall. The filling will settle when baked.

Whisk together 2 of the eggs with the cream, sugar, salt and pepper. Pour over the pie filling. Add the pieces of butter to the top. Lay on the top pie crust. Trim off the excess and crimp the edges all around. Cut slits into the top crust to vent steam.

Place the skillet or pie plate on a large sheet of aluminum foil. Bring the foil up to loosely wrap the rim of the pie and help prevent the edge of the crust from overcooking. Place the pie in the indirect cooking zone.

Add the alder wood chips for smoke and bake the pie with the hood closed for 90 minutes total, rotating the pie every 30 minutes for more even baking.

With 20 to 30 minutes remaining, pull the foil away from the edges. Beat the last egg and brush about half of it onto the top pie crust and continue baking for a perfectly golden presentation. Serve warm as a side dish.

Roasted Apple Pies in Pumpkin Shells

Recipe & photo courtesy of Russ Faulk, Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet

"Sugar pumpkins, also known as pie pumpkins, only weigh up to a few pounds and are sweeter with a firmer, less stringy flesh than carving pumpkins. This recipe is even better cooked with a little apple wood smoke."

Serves: 6


2 eggs

1 cup heavy cream

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup light-brown sugar

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ cup all-purpose flour

6 sugar pie pumpkins, about 1 pound each, scrubbed clean

6 Braeburn apples, cored and sliced in eighths

½ cup pecan halves

Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Beat in the cream. Whisk in the vanilla, brown sugar, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Add the flour and combine until smooth.

Cut the top third or so off each pumpkin. Angle the knife while cutting, so the slanted cut tapers toward the middle to allow the tops to securely center on the pumpkin. Hollow out the pumpkins, removing all the seeds and pulp.

Layer the apples and pecans inside the pumpkins, and then drizzle the egg mixture equally into each pie. The apples can extend above the rim, but the egg mixture should not fill the shell more than 2/3 high.

Place the tops on the pies and transfer them to the indirect cooking zone. Roast with the hood closed for 20 minutes. Remove the tops and set them directly on the grill grate in the coolest part of the indirect zone. Close the lid.

In 10 minutes, rotate the pies for even cooking. In another 10 minutes, remove the pumpkin lids from the grill and set aside. After 10 more minutes, the pumpkin shells should be tender and the apple pie filling cooked through. Remove from the grill and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Note: 6 pumpkins require a sizable indirect cooking zone. A K900 can handle them, but some grills are not large enough.