“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” Elizabeth Barret Browning did not pen those words while reflecting on food, but for some reason, her words danced through my head as I ate the Grilled Pork Kebabs with Ginger Molasses Barbecue Sauce. Let me count the reasons why I love this recipe. Made from lean pork tenderloin, these kebabs are lower in fat. In fact, in an article written by Jeff Volek, Ph.D, R.D. for Men’s Health, he states, “Pork really is the other white meat. Ounce for ounce, pork tenderloin has less fat than a chicken breast.” In addition, as the complex flavors of the sauce swirled in my mouth, I thought about its versatility and how fabulous it would taste on other grilled meat, particularly salmon, prawns, or chicken. The final reason why I love this kebab recipe focuses on its ease of preparation and its make-ahead convenience. Serve these kebabs with rice pilaf for Valentine’s Day and experience love at first taste.
Grilled Pork Kebabs with Ginger Molasses Barbecue Sauce
Gourmet, August 2003
For Barbecue Sauce:
6 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons ketchup
1½ tablespoons molasses (regular or robust, not blackstrap)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh serrano or other small hot green chile (1 or 2), including seeds
1/2 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (1-lb) pork tenderloin, trimmed
1/4 teaspoon salt
About 30 (8-inch) wooden skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes
1. To make barbecue sauce: Stir together all sauce ingredients in a 1- to 1½-quart heavy saucepan and briskly simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced to about 1/2 cup, about 3 minutes. Transfer sauce to a medium bowl and cool to room temperature.
2. Put tenderloin on a cutting board. Starting about 5 inches from narrow end of tenderloin and holding a large sharp knife at a 30-degree angle to cutting board, cut a thin slice (1/8 to 1/4 inch thick) from tenderloin, slicing diagonally toward narrow end and cutting through to cutting board. Continue to cut thin slices from tenderloin following same diagonal, starting each consecutive slice closer to wide end. (You will have about 12 slices. Cut any slices more than 2 inches wide in half lengthwise.)
3. Thread 2 skewers, 1 at a time and 1/2 to 1 inch apart, lengthwise through each slice of pork and transfer to a tray lined with plastic wrap.
4. If using a charcoal grill, open vents on bottom of grill, then light charcoal. Charcoal fire is hot when you can hold your hand 5 inches above rack for 1 to 2 seconds. If using a gas grill, preheat burners on high, covered, 10 minutes.
5. Sprinkle pork slices with salt and brush both sides with barbecue sauce, then grill on oiled grill rack, uncovered, turning over once, until just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes total. Discard any leftover sauce.*
6. Cooks’ notes: Barbecue sauce can be made 6 hours ahead and chilled, covered. Kebabs can be prepared 6 hours before grilling (without salt or sauce) and chilled, covered with plastic wrap. If you aren’t able to grill outdoors, cook kebabs in a hot oiled well-seasoned ridged grill pan over moderately high heat.
1. For even cooking, try to cut pork in uniformly thick slices.
2. The spiciness of the sauce can be adjusted by reducing or increasing the amount of minced chile.
3. *I make double the amount of sauce and pour about half of it into a separate bowl to serve alongside the meat or to slather it on the grilled meat prior to serving. Discard the remaining half that was brushed onto the raw meat.
4. These kebabs make hearty appetizers and taste just as good when served at room temperature.
5. I sprinkled toasted sesame seeds on the kebabs and cilantro leaves on the serving plate prior to serving.