Sunday, May 3, 2009

Grilled Pork Loin with Picadillo-Seasoned Mango Stuffing

The meal today was inspired by the Serious Eats blog. The have decided to start something called the Weekend Cook and Tell:

Each Wednesday the food sections from newspapers all over country feature many great ideas and recipes. Here at Serious Eats we are kicking off a new feature called Weekend Cook and Tell. Every Wednesday we are going to share a particularly interesting article or recipe from a food section. We want you to use this as a jumping off point for a weekend cooking project, come up with an idea inspired by the featured article or recipe, cook it over the weekend and then tell us all about it and share photos of your dishes.

For the first go-around they decided to feature an article from the New York Times about "off-cuts" of meat.

These unfamiliar cuts are readily available, inexpensive, and underutilized but full of flavor and really delicious when prepared using the right techniques.
I knew that I had a pork loin (not tenderloin) in the freezer so I started it thawing and considered what to do with it. Now, they recommended it as a cut for roasting, but with the weather warming up I thought grilling was in order. Indirect grilling provides basically the same kind of cooking as roasting, but with the additional deliciousness of charcoal and wood that you can't get from the oven.

A Cook's Illustrated recipe that I had used before came to mind. It featured pork loin stuffed with an apple-cranberry filling. However, apples and cranberries bring to mind feelings of fall and winter, and it is trying desperately to be spring here. I wanted to stick with a fruit filling but the best looking fruit right now is strawberries, and that just didn't seem right. Then I thought about the great mangoes that have just come into season and decided that might be the way to go. I did a little searching online and found a recipe for picadillo that featured mango as one of the ingredients (and seemed like a great start for a flavor profile). After a little more searching and comparing a few different regional recipes, I came up with the following for my version.

Here's the ingredients:

8 oz can tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 onion, diced
1 mango, diced
1/2 cup golden raisins
2 Tablespoon capers
2 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
a couple of dashes cayenne
1/2 cup almonds, toasted
3 lb boneless pork loin

In a saucepan I combined all of the filling ingredients except for the almonds and brought the mixture to a boil.

I turned down the heat and let it simmer for 30 minutes.

After the simmering I strained out all the solids.

Then returned the liquids to the pan so that I could make a glaze.

I let the liquid reduce by half.

Meanwhile, I let my stuffing mixture cool, then I stirred in the almonds.

I butterflied the pork loin.

Spread the stuffing over (to within about a 1/2" of the edges).

Then rolled it back up and tied it.

Unfortunately, I seem to have been distracted at this point and I forgot to take a picture (doh).

I let this sit on the counter while I started my coals. I have a fancy charcoal grill that has not only baskets for indirect grilling, but also, propane ignition. So, I loaded the baskets and set them aflame.

While I waited for the coal to be ready for cooking I put some smoking chips in water to soak.

When the coals were ready, I drained the chips and tossed a handful on the coals. Finally I added my pork loin (which I had basted with oil and seasoned with salt and pepper) to the grill in between the baskets and closed the lid (this is what makes it oven like).

I expected the pork to take about an hour to cook, so after a half-hour I flipped the pork over. When the pork was 15 degrees from being done I started basting it with the glaze

While the USDA would like you to cook pork to 160 degrees, I like my pork to have a remnant of moistness (plus I like to live on the edge). So, I cooked it to 135 degrees and then let it rest, covered The carryover cooking brought it to 145 degrees.

One of the ingredients that seemed to be fairly unanimous for picadillo was green olives, but rather than add it to the filling, I decided to add it to my rice side dish. I cooked up some yellow rice with a little butter and then stirred in some sliced green olives.

I sliced a zucchini into planks, drizzled them with oil, seasoned them with salt and pepper and grilled them once I had removed the pork loin.

Once the loin had rested for 10 minutes I sliced it and plated it with some of the rice and zucchini.

How was it? Delicioso! The filling kept the pork super moist and had a nice mix of sweet and sour. I loved the olives in the rice (and I was glad that I opted to put them in the rice rather than the stuffing). This one is going on the permanent repertoire. I might try it again with peaches instead of mango later in the summer. I think that'll be tasty too.

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