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Grilled Pork Kebabs with ginger Molasses Barbecue Sauce“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

INGREDIENTS
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

For Pork:
1 (1-lb) pork tenderloin, trimmed
1/4 teaspoon salt

Special Equipment:
About 30 (8-inch) wooden skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes

DIRECTIONS
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.

LINNELL’S NOTES
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.

ENJOY!

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five spice pork belly Before you say, “Eww, gross!” at the mere mention of pork belly, consider this: other countries in the world make their bacon from side and back cuts of pork, but here in the United States, we choose to make our bacon from the pig’s belly. In other words, bacon is none other than cured PORK BELLY, so if you’re loving your crispy bacon in the morning, you are eating pork belly!

Dining on pork belly has become a food trend from coast to coast. Chefs at some of the most popular and fashionable restaurants have put their own unique spin on preparing it. For example, Chef Zak Pelaccio of New York, makes a signature Coriander Bacon. His chefs “cure their heritage-pork belly in a mix of palm sugar, coriander, Thai chiles, and salt, smoke it over hardwood, then braise it to melting, candied softness.” That sounds delicious, but the procedure is more complicated than the average home cook wants to undertake. Here’s an easy and interesting pork belly recipe. It’s similar in taste to the Chinese red-cooked pork belly, but with a Thai twist. The addition of chopped tomatoes, fish sauce, and lime juice provides a sublime depth of flavors. This dish will be part of my Chinese New Year’s feast this weekend!

Pork Belly with Five Spices
From The Cook’s Encyclopedia of Thai Cooking by Judy Bastyra

Ingredients:
1 large bunch fresh coriander (cilantro) with roots*
2 tbsp/30ml vegetable oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tbsp/30ml five-spice powder
1¼ lb/500g pork belly, cut into 1-in/2.5cm pieces
14oz/400g can chopped tomatoes
2/3 cup/150ml hot water
2 tbsp/30ml dark soy sauce
3 tbsp/45ml Thai fish sauce
2 tbsp/30ml granulated sugar
1 lime halved

Directions:
1. Cut off the coriander roots. Chop five of them finely and freeze the remainder for another occasion. Chop the coriander stalks and leaves and set them aside. Keep the roots separate.

2. Heat the oil in a large pan and cook the garlic until golden brown. Stirring constantly, add the chopped coriander roots and then the five-spice powder.

3. Add the pork and stir-fry until the meat is thoroughly coated in spices and has browned. Stir in the tomatoes and hot water. Bring to a boil, then stir in the soy sauce, fish sauce and sugar.

4. Reduce the heat, cover the pan and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in the chopped coriander stalks and leaves. Squeeze in the lime juice and serve.

Serves 4

Linnell’s Notes:
1. This dish is not intended to be served as a solo main entrée, but as one among several entrée-type dishes served at dinner (Chinese style).

2. Five-spice powder is said to encompass the five elements of flavor: sour, bitter, sweet, pungent, and salty. Use Chinese five-spice powder, which is normally made from cloves, cinnamon, fennel seeds, star anise, and Szechuan pepper, and not the Indian five spice known as Panch phoran, which is made from fenugreek seed, nigella seed, cumin seed, black mustard seed and fennel seed.

3. *I did not have coriander with roots and I understand it can be hard to find, so I cut in a few more stems to make up the difference. Coriander/cilantro stems have a slightly more intense flavor than the leaves.

ENJOY!

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Ernest Hemingway allegedly wrote a compelling work of fiction using only six words. A seemingly tragic story, complete with a beginning, middle and end, unfolds with these simple words: For sale: baby shoes, never worn. Following Hemingway’s format, I’ve come up with my own semi-tragic six-word story: Party planned, game lost, theme changed. Not really being an ardent football fan, I surprised myself with thoughts of hosting a Super Bowl party if the San Francisco 49ers beat the New York Giants. After Sunday’s overtime loss, I was in no mood for a party. But since, in my head, a menu had already taken shape, it seemed a shame not to put part of it to good use. Here’s a recipe for pulled pork sandwiches that’s easy, doesn’t smack too much of mustard or vinegar, and can be made in a slow cooker ahead of time! Australian Open party, anyone?

Easy Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Adapted from a recipe found on allrecipes.com

Ingredients:
1 Boston Pork Butt Roast
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Enough root beer to cover roast (not diet version)
About 3 cups of your favorite barbecue sauce
1 dozen onion rolls, sliced in half and lightly toasted
1 large can of French’s French Fried Onions, optional

Directions:
1. Rinse roast under cold running water and pat dry.
2. Rub salt and freshly ground pepper over roast.
3. Place pork in slow cooker and pour root beer over the meat until it is covered.
4. Cover with lid and cook on low until meat is well-cooked. Meat should fall off the bone and should be easy to shred. Length of cooking time will depend on the size of the pork butt roast and the type of heating element in your slow cooker. Plan on at least 8 to 10 hours for this portion of the cooking.
5. After meat is cooked, shred it and discard any fatty pieces.
6. Pour out the cooking liquid in the slow cooker (skim the fat off first, so that it does not go down the sink drain) and put the shredded meat back into the cooker. Stir in the barbecue sauce and gently mix until evenly distributed. Cook on low for one more hour, being careful that the sauce and meat does not burn.
7. Add salt and pepper to taste.
8. To serve: Let guests mound the pulled pork onto toasted rolls. Sprinkle french fried onions on top of meat, if desired. Put tops of rolls on sandwiches and make sure to provide plenty of napkins!

Serves about 12.

Linnell’s Notes:
1. The last time I made this I did not have root beer on hand, so I used some ginger beer that my brother-in-law kindly brought back from Australia for my hubby. I poured ginger ale soda in to cover the rest of the pork roast.
2. I used a 40 ounce bottle of Sweet Baby Ray’s Award Winning Barbecue Sauce, because I had it on hand. Obviously, the tastier the barbecue sauce, the tastier the pulled pork.
3. The pork can be cooked, shredded, cooled and refrigerated ahead of time. On game day, put the meat back in the slow cooker, add the barbecue sauce and cook on low for about one hour.
4. The topping of french fried onions gives the sandwiches a nice salty crunch!
5. Serve with some coleslaw and you are all set to go!

Enjoy!

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