Saturday, February 19, 2011

Cuisine: Hot Pineapple Pork Loin

I was inspired to create this recipe after eating at Mission Chinese Food with my husband and dear friend, Victoria. The food brought me to another world: Chengdu. I was reminded of a meal I had there that was out-of-this-world spicy. It started with this pickled dish that numbed the tongue. Then, they brought out all of the spicy food.

Mission Chinese Food also had a pickled dish that numbed the tongue. I loved it. I devoured the cucumbers, peanuts, and cabbage. My forehead was sweating profusely. It was as if I was still outside in the rain, and that feeling of exhilaration that comes from spice rushed over me. I was in heaven. Or more precisely, I was right back in Chengdu at this restaurant of fine dark stained wood and deep red.

The unique flavor that numbs the tongue is the Sichuan peppercorn. I have a ton of it at home, and I have been neglecting it. It isn't for everyone, so I use it sparingly. After dinner at Mission Chinese Food, I knew I had to dust it off and create a new recipe. Thus, the beginnings of Hot Pineapple Pork Loin was born.

I'm not sure how I thought to pare all of the different flavors. It just kind of came to me. Or, the rub did at least. The addition of the pineapple came because I knew I needed to cook it with some liquid at the bottom of the pan. The liquid helps keep the pork loin nice and juicy. I didn't want to use just water, so I ran across the street to the liquor store. My choices were limited to apple juice, orange juice, a small bottle of cranberry juice, some limeade, and there it was...pineapple juice. Yup, the one in the can from Dole. I grabbed it and headed home.

The result is this amazingly tender pork loin that has a hint of heat from the crust of the rub and a nice tart sweetness from the pineapple. Sure it's not a dish you would find in Chengdu or Mission Chinese Food, but both are owed a debt of gratitude for first introducing me to the Sichuan peppercorn and reminding me how much I love it.

What you need:
1 tsp caraway seed
1/2 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp black peppercorn
1 tsp pink peppercorn
1 tsp Sichuan peppercorn
seeds from 4 cardamon pods
1 tsp fried onion
2 tsp salt
2 tsp fried garlic
1 tsp paprika
3 lb boneless pork loin
1 can pineapple juice

What to do:
Make a rub for the pork by putting all the spices in a spice grinder and processing until fine. Rub all over the pork and let sit for at least one hour. Heat over to 500 degrees. Place pork on a rack in a roasting pan. Pour all of the pineapple juice into the pan. Put the pan in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes. Base the pork carefully with the pineapple juice. Bake for another 10 - 15 minutes, or until the pork starts to brown nicely.

Reduce heat to 300 degrees. Bake for 50 minutes to an hour more basting every 10 minutes or so. Turn the pork loin over after about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, place pork on a dish, cover, and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour the pineapple juice into a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil and simmer to reduce liquid to about half.

Slice pork loin and pour a little of the juice on top.

Enjoy with roasted yams or sweet potatoes and your favorite greens.

Tip: Roasting the yams or sweet potatoes is simple. Start by slicing them lengthwise into quarters. Toss in oil to coat and sprinkle lightly with salt. Put them into a pan and place in the oven when you turn the pork loin. Bake for about 45 minutes. Carefully turn the yams or sweet potatoes over at least twice to ensure even cooking. The yams or sweet potatoes will be incredibly soft and tender.

No comments:

Post a Comment