Caribbean Inspired Pork Kabobs with Pineapple
In the veggie department. I do stick with the basics - pineapples, bell pepper and red onion. Other than that feel free to add or subtract whatever you like. Zuchinni, other mushrooms, summer squash, anaheim pepper - whatever your garden or produce stand is offering!
I dream of cooking. I really do. There are times I wake up thinking I've actually produced a dish, only to realize that it was all in my head. Dang.
This is one of those - we had been facing several days of thunderstorms, and I suppose it was grill-deprivation that caused me to dream of juicy, succulent, tangy pork grilled off to that perfect caramelized luciousness. It just so happened that I had just received a delivery from a friend who has a garden that was producing in spades, so I was gifted with fresh produce; peppers and cherry tomatoes among them. Poking through my cabinets I found the few other ingredients I needed to make it all sing - pineapple, soy, hoisin, mirin, and black vinegar. The entire dish took only a few minutes to throw together - I spent more time chopping and skewering than actually cooking.
I also got all prep work done, went to start the grill, and discovered we were hit with one more thunderstorm. Usually a little rain doesn't stop me at the grill, but this time the rain was blowing all over - so I punted and went with plan B. The broiler! I've now done them both ways, and they work equally well. I just happen to like the primal attitude which cooking over open flames entitles me to. There is that additional smokey flavor when they're done on the grill. I'll admit that. But the broiler works really well too.
Even better? Served with Chipoltle Black Beans and Rice, this dish carries some serious nutritional punch - lean protein, quality carbohydrates and tons of fresh veggies. On top of that the flavors just rock - sweet and tangy, with a touch of slow heat if you wish from the optional chipolte. Broiler Bombshell baby.
Don't go too crazy...
With the marinade time. Even six hours is pushing it. Why? Well - a marinade won't impart additional tenderness, and you're starting with some rather tender pork to begin with. It WILL impart flavor, but your pieces of pork are relatively small, and have a lot of surface area. What will also happen, because pineapple is acidic, after a while it will turn the surface of the pork mushy. Acids can 'cure' meats - meaning they will denature the protein structure. A little while is yummy. Too long will be mushy, and that's not lucious.
Cross contaminate....the marinade/sauce is divided in half before you put it in contact with the raw pork. The sauce portion will not have ever come in contact with raw pork. The marinade, in which any little beasties the uncooked meat brought with it, needs to be discarded. If you add veggies to the marinade portion ahead of time - don't use those in the sauce. You really don't want to serve food poisoning. That's not a nice party favor.
For 4-6 servings
- 1 lb pork loin or pork spareribs, cubed (in my region they're often sold as 'country style spareribs' - and they're relatively lean)
- 1 bell pepper, large cubes and blanched, any color
- 1 red onion, cut into cubes
- a handful or two of cherry tomatoes - however many your garden produces, or about half a package. Whole tomatoes cut into wedges then halved work well too
- 4 oz crimini mushrooms (button mushrooms work well too)
For the marinade/sauce:
- 1 - 20 oz can of pineapple cubes, with the juice
- 4 tbl soy sauce
- 1 tbl black vinegar
- 2 tbl mirin
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- a pinch of salt, to taste, if needed
- 1 tbl of chipoltle in adobo, minced - optional
- Mix the ingredients for the marinade well. Divide it in half. (Include the pineapple chunks in both the marinade and the sauce as well.) Place half the marinade in a container and add the cubed pork. Toss well, and refrigerate for at least an hour, and preferably four to six hours.
- Set the remaining marinade in a seperate container. You'll simmer this down to make a dipping sauce.
- Place 6-8 wooden skewers in warm water to soak - this helps keep them from catching fire. Alternately you can use stainless steel skewers.
- When you're ready to go, either preheat your grill or start your broiler. Remove the pork and pineapple chunks from the marinade, and discard the marinade that was used with the raw pork. Place the fresh marinade in a saucepan, bring to a simmer, and allow it to cook very gently while you're prepping the rest of your ingredients.
- Alternate the pork, pineapple chunks, red onion, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and bell peppers on the skewers. If you get to the end of your skewering, toss any leftover vegetables into the sauce - especially the red onion and pineapple. The sauce will love you for it.
- Once you've assembled your skewers, grill them over medium high heat for approximately ten minutes, turning just once halfway through. You're looking for just the edges of the skewered ingredients to begin to caramelize, and for the pork to take on a lovely, golden brown. This can also be done under a broiler on high. Place the grilled skewers on a platter and allow to rest for five minutes.
- Taste the sauce, and add a touch of salt if necessary. Strain the simmered dipping sauce into a serving bowl, and serve with the skewers. This dish also is amazing with black beans and rice.
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