Grilled Pork Loin with Peach-Whiskey Sauce
|October 10, 2011||Posted by Cheeks under Grilling, Main Course, Make-ahead, MEAT, Recipe|
Hello again, Internet friends! It has been a long time….
You see, I went and got hitched last summer, and we decided to “save” (and save up for) our honeymoon for a year and to take that special vacation as a one-year anniversary celebration, and to go all-out somewhere really special.
Having just returned from an unbelievable, exotic, amazing, mesmerizing, delicious, strange, wonderful trip through Peru (Lima, Cuzco, Machu Picchu) and Easter Island, Chile, I’m ready to get back to familiar things – and foods! Not that we didn’t love South American foods – all sorts of exotic fruits and juices; the tangy, creamy andean cheese; more fresh fish and ceviche than you could ever hope to try; the strange – alpaca, guinea pig, tacu tacu – and the all-to-familiar – pizza and mcdonalds everywhere!.
It was, as I said, absolutely amazing, and I’ll have more to say once my thoughts organize themselves (particularly my new adventures in CANNING!). But until then, here’s a recipe to tide you over, a quick and easy way to fake a fancy roast on the grill by brine-ing and glazing a pork tenderloin on the grill. Brine, brine, brine. That’s the secret to this awesome recipe.
While many cuts of pork are, like steak, richly marbled with fat, it earned it’s reputation as ‘the other white meat’ because (of marketing) there are plenty of lean, dry cuts of pork that end up on our plates. Think of anytime you’ve had an overcooked pork chop – the dry, tough, pasty meat that can’t be cut through or chewed up without serious jaw work.
Because for many years we feared trichinosis, pork is usually thought of like chicken in that it must be cooked through, period, with error falling squarely on the side of overcooking it. As a result, unless you’re talking about slow-cooked barbecued pork shoulder, meaty country ribs, or other fatty cuts, pork is more often than not a saraha-like eating experience.
But that all is changing, as experts – including, now, the FDA – agree that trichinosis is no longer a risk – thus, pork has entered the realm of undercooked meats. I was shocked the first time a server asked me how I wanted my pork chop cooked (uh…till it’s done?) but now am slowly, slowly wrapping my brain around this.
Still, the texture of rare pork is….gross. It’s chewy and funky; it isn’t a meat I want carpaccio’ed or tartare’d. But, cooked to medium or higher, or like I like it with the barest blush of pink in the center, you can cook the lean cuts of pork without having to worry about them drying out and toughening up.
If this is still too much for you, all is not lost. Brine will help you out!
Brining meat is a technique often associated with poultry, most famously Thanksgiving turkeys. It involves soaking the uncooked bird or roast in a salty, and often spiced, solution for several hours or even days. Because of osmosis (I think; my tenth grade chemistry teacher would be so proud), the salty solution penetrates into the bird, bringing flavor and moisture to the meat.
And, best part, it’s easy. I mixed about 1/4 cup of salt, brown sugar, and some crushed peppercorns into 3 cups of warm water, and soaked the pork tenderloin for about 30 minutes. I read some guides that said the tenderloin would turn mealy if left in the brine any longer, although I’ve seen tougher pork cuts brined for much longer!
Once it was brined, it went onto a hot grill and was glazed with a quick peach-whiskey sauce that had been reducing on the stove. Even though I probably grilled it a smidge too long (no pink in this loin), the brining process kept the meat tender and juicy. Perfection!
Brined Pork Loin with Peach-Whiskey Sauce
- 1 1.5-2-pound pork loin, trimmed
- 3 cups warm water
- 1/4 cup salt
- 3 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1/2 Tbsp butter
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 cup peach preserves
- 3 Tbsp whiskey
- 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 3 Tbsp ketchup
- 1 Tbsp molasses
- 2 Tbsp water
- 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 medium-to-large zucchini, sliced into 1/2″ rounds
- 2 slightly underripe peaches, sliced into 1/4″ rounds (it’s OK to leave the pit in teh middle slice – it will pop out easier once its grilled)
- 2 tsp vegetable oil