Saturday, January 30, 2010

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Pineapple Ginger Sauce, served with Grilled Pineapple

Have you ever had grilled pineapple? If you haven't had it, try it!  It will totally change your opinion of pineapple. The heat causes the sugars to caramelize slightly, resulting in a deeper flavor, and the grill marks look pretty against the yellow fruit.

Not only does pineapple taste great grilled, but it also makes a great marinade ingredient due to a certain naturally-occurring enzyme. The recipe written here is a fruity pineapple marinade, spiked with ginger and a little garlic. It pairs really well with pork tenderloin, and works great on the grill.

If you’ve never bought or cut up a whole pineapple before, don’t worry, I have provided you with instructions! Give it a try!

How to choose a pineapple at the grocery store:

Pineapples don’t continue to ripen after they’ve been picked, so you’ll want to choose the ripest pineapple available from your grocer. Unless you live in or near Florida and have other locally-grown options available to you, you’re probably buying a pineapple imported from Hawaii. (I guess that statement is only true if you live in the United States…I’m not sure what the pineapple availability is elsewhere.)

Since Hawaiian pineapples are the ripest when they have a bright golden color, pick the pineapple that has the most gold on its skin (but not a mottled brown color, because too much brown = rotten!). Some green skin coloration is ok, but the greener the skin is, the less ripe the pineapple was when it was picked.

The spiky leaves should be stiff and green (again, not brown). Grab the base of the bunch of leaves – it should wiggle slightly…not too much wiggle, but not totally stiff either. One more thing to check: the pineapple was once attached to its plant on the underside of the fruit. Turn the fruit over and look to be sure the place where it was attached to the plant hasn’t turned moldy.

Now that you have your pineapple, you're ready to start making...

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Pineapple Ginger Sauce, served with Grilled Pineapple
Serves 4

1 fresh pineapple
1/3 cup hoisin sauce
4 tsp peeled, grated fresh ginger
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1-1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed of any fat
1 tsp soy sauce
2/3 cup chicken stock

First, cut up the pineapple:

Chop off and discard the leafy crown. A lot of people cut off the bottom of the pineapple at this point, but I usually leave it on because its roughness provides more stability on your cutting board (cut pineapple is slippery!). If its really uneven, though, you might prefer to cut it off. Cut off and discard all of the skin from the sides of the pineapple. If you missed any “eyes” or seeds, cut them out too.

If you haven’t yet, slice off and discard the bottom of the pineapple. With the pineapple standing on its end, cut straight down just next to the core.

Set aside the coreless piece. Mirror the exact same cut on the other side of the core so you have two large coreless pieces and one rectangular piece which still contains the core. Cut off the pineapple on either side of the core. The core is too tough for me to want to eat, so I usually just discard it (although I do know a guy who puts lots of salt on it and eats it anyway…).

You should be left with two smaller pieces of pineapple and two larger slabs of pineapple. Cut the larger slabs of pineapple into 1/2-inch slices. Set these aside – they’ll be grilled later.

The two smaller pieces of pineapple can be cut into chunks – place them in a small food processor. Process the pineapple to make chunky juice. Transfer approximately half of it to a small saucepan and reserve it for later – this will become a sauce to be served with the meat. The rest will be used to create a marinade.

Then, marinate your meat:

The remaining processed pineapple can be transferred to a gallon-sized food storage bag (or whatever vessel you’re going to use to marinate your meat). Add 3 Tbsp hoisin sauce, 2 tsp grated fresh ginger, the minced garlic, the mustard, and the trimmed pork tenderloin. Seal the bag and smash it around a bit to incorporate the ingredients and coat the pork. Let the pork sit a minimum of 15 minutes. (Obviously longer is fine, you can even put this together in the morning before you go to work.)

Then make the sauce:

Near the end of the marinating time, prepare the sauce: In the small saucepan with the reserved processed pineapple, combine 2 Tbsp hoisin sauce, 2 tsp grated fresh ginger, the soy sauce, and the chicken stock. Set the sauce aside until its time to grill the meat.

About grilling big pieces of meat:

When I’m grilling a piece of meat this big, I do several things. One is that I use medium indirect heat. I have a three-burner gas grill. I turn the two outer burners up to medium or medium-high, and the middle burner on low. The pork is placed over the middle low-heat burner.

I also use a heat-safe thermometer. They’re not too expensive to buy from the kitchen section of your grocery store. You just put it in the meat and leave it there during the entire cooking time. The thermometer beeps when it reaches the proper temperature. Easy, and totally worth the nominal cost. Go buy one while your meat’s marinating. (Just remember, use a hot pad to remove it when you’re done with it…it’s hot. Yes, that’s personal experience talking. Doh!)

Grill the pork tenderloin over medium indirect heat, with the grill covered, turning it once, until it reaches 155 degrees internally. The exact time varies (there’s a lot of variables), but count on around 20 minutes.

While the meat is grilling:

While the meat is cooking, bring the sauce to a simmer over medium heat, then turn it to low heat until serving time. The sauce will thicken as it bubbles – if necessary, add another splash of chicken stock if the pan gets too dry. I pour a few tablespoons of the sauce over the meat at the halfway point of the grilling time – just after turning it over. (Careful, don’t contaminate the sauce with raw meat…and if you do, bring it back up to a boil before serving it.)

Half-way through the pork's cooking time, add the reserved pineapple slices to the warmer part of the grill. Cook them over medium direct heat, turning them once, until the pineapple is soft and warm, with nice grill marks on each side. Each side should take just a few minutes at the most. When they’re done, you can move them to a cooler spot on the grill, or transfer them to a plate and cover them with foil to keep them warm.

When the meat has reached 155 degrees internally, remove it from the heat and cover it with aluminum foil. Let it rest for about five minutes before slicing it (the temperature will rise to 160 as it rests).

To serve, thinly slice the pork into medallions. Serve it alongside the grilled pineapple slices, topped with the sauce. I like to serve this meal with rice…it’s a great way to soak up the sauce!

1 comment:

  1. what lovely detailed instructions!!so well done and the dish looks great. pineapple is one of my favourite fruits altho I hv yet to grill it.. Iwill certainly try that! tq for visiting me btw :))