All Fired Up
We’ve already gone through a bag of charcoal for 2012 and spring has been here only for a week or so. Needless to say, our Weber has been getting a work out. My husband “treated himself” to a new grill rack a couple of weeks ago, and has been putting it to good use. He really could teach a master class on how to grill a chicken. While he labors over hot coals, I’m usually inside preparing side dishes, so I haven’t divined his secret. (I watch him out the window, but his back is usually to me blocking the action. Sneaky!) All I know is that he comes into the house carrying a plate of chicken cooked to juicy perfection. And he smells like a summer campfire.
I find myself leaning over him the rest of the night sniffing his shirt. Love it.
Wishing to branch out beyond the bird, I recently ran across a recipe for cashew encrusted pork tenderloin. It was prepared with fresh pineapple chunks on skewers, shish kabob style. The original was cooked under a broiler, but broiler-schmoiler, this is grill season, and I was sure I could adapt it. I ended up tweaking the recipe quite a bit, using peanuts instead of cashews (because I had a big tub of the former to use up); I added more cilantro than stated (because it’s my new go-to herb of choice); and I used boneless pork ribs rather than the tenderloin (because that’s what we had in our freezer). I didn’t skimp on the pineapple, however, and made a special trip to the store for a sweet golden beauty.
I was a bit concerned because sometimes pork prepared on the grill can be tough and/or dry. But salting the pork and letting it rest a bit (like a dry “brine”) before adding to the marinade really did the trick. The final result? The pork was caramelized brown and crispy on the outside and juicy within. And the pairing with the pineapple was fantastic. I served it with a wild rice pilaf and steamed broccoli. This is definitely going in the “favorites” file of my recipe box.
So, I know I’ve asked this before, but what have you been cooking on your grill? (Always looking for a change from the chicken!)
Pork and Pineapple Skewers with Peanut Marinade
Inspired by Melissa Clark’s recipe for Garlicky Cashew Pork and Pineapple Skewers
1 ½ lbs “meaty” boneless pork ribs
2 cups fresh pineapple chunks (about ½ a pineapple)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup roasted salted peanuts (or cashew nuts)
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
¼ cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp brown sugar
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Juice of 1 lemon
Cut the pork into 1 to 1 ½ inch chunks. Season generously with salt and pepper and seal in a plastic bag. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Combine all of the marinade ingredients in a blender or small food processor. Blend until combined. (The peanuts won’t blend smooth like peanut butter-they will have some texture. That’s OK.) Pour the marinade over the pork in the plastic bag, seal and massage the bag to get the marinade over all of the pork. Refrigerate at least 3 hours or up to overnight.
When you light your coals, soak a dozen or so wooden skewers (10-12” in length) in water for the time it takes the coals to get ready. Skewer the pork and pineapple chunks alternately, two of each per stick.
Grill until the pork crisps up and the pineapple caramelizes a bit, approx 10 minutes per side, maybe more depending on how big you cut the pork pieces and the heat of your coals.
(Hint: to prevent sticking, use an oil soaked paper towel, pinched in a set of tongs and wipe down the hot grill grate prior to cooking.)