Wednesday, July 14, 2010

In Which Fruit And Pork Make Beautiful Music Together

Let me begin this entry by apologizing to my parents for the fortune they spent on parochial school. But, quite frankly, if we're not meant to eat pigs, they ought not to be such a readily available source of lean and delicious protein.

I love pork tenderloins. The problem with them, however, is twofold. For one, they are incredibly lean and therefore prone to becoming dried out lumps of jerky. Secondly, many people believe that if pork isn't a solid gray throughout, it will cause you to develop intestinal worms and liver flukes and experience unpleasant side effects such as vomiting and death. But with a little know-how and attention, this cut can be tender, flavorful, and juicy. Properly cooked, pork tenderloin should be rosy in the center rather than looking like putty.

I like light, simple food in the summer and had purchased a pork tenderloin for grilling. I think pork pairs wonderfully with fruits (roast pork and applesauce being a classic combination) and considered dressing the loin with fresh apples and allspice. But that felt rather heavy for the weather. On Monday AlmondBoy and I had gone to the farm stand and selected some beautiful summer produce, including some enormous peaches and a variety of squashes. I thought the peaches would do nicely, and then I recalled that I had some sliced mangoes (thanks, Trader Joe!) in the freezer as well. Peaches and mangoes together are scrumptious, ergo I decided that all three would be a tasty trio.

To begin, trim the fat and remove the silver skin from the meat. Then soak it in a saltwater brine for roughly 12 hours.

After the meat had finished soaking, I patted it dry with paper towels. I took out a large piece of tin foil and spritzed it with olive oil spray. I placed the loin on the tin foil, then topped it with the mango slices. I arranged the sliced peaches (it took two, sliced into eighths) all around the perimeter like a fort of deliciousness, topped it with some fresh herbs (tarragon, sage, and rosemary from the garden) and sprinkled on some good sea salt.

Finally, I just folded it up into a packet, taking care to seal the seams. Make sure you crimp it pretty tightly because you don't want all of the juices to come pouring out when you flip your packet. I placed the packet on a hot grill and cooked each side for approximately 8 minutes, until the internal temperature reached 135 degrees.

After that point, I placed the pork directly on the grill to brown the outside and let the internal temperature come to between 145-150 degrees. I left the fruits in the foil over the heat.

Once the internal temperature was high enough, I moved the pork to a large platter and smothered it with the fruits, juices, and herbs.

Then I tented it loosely with foil and let the whole dish rest for about 5 minutes to let the interior finish cooking. Because the grill gets the meat so hot, it continues cooking after being taken off the grill. Therefore it's essential to have it come off a touch early if you want the middle to stay moist and juicy and delicately pink.. Which you really, really do.

As I had hoped, the flavors were wonderful together. I served the dish with a steamed squash medley (pattypan, crookneck, and zucchini) which I flavored with oregano and sea salt. We also had corn muffins with homemade strawberry jam.

1 comment:

  1. Jealous that you've got peaches already! We've got another week or so, I think, though the plums are in.

    I've been doing this zucchini-fig paste thing lately that is very successful. Fruit + savory really is a winning combo.

    Mmm, pork. I remember pork...