Garlicky Cashew Pork and Pineapple Skewers
Being a lover of all things porcine, it was not a very far leap for me to think about converting the cashew chicken recipe into a cashew pork recipe, especially when I'm in freezer-cleaning mode.
The freezer had become unruly, teeming with the likes of a rainbow of baby food cubes, the skin-on tuna steaks our babysitter's mother carried over from St. Lucia, a friend's friend's house-smoked pheasant-not to mention all the unlabeled containers that I was sure I'd remember the contents of when I stuck them in there.
As I excavated, I found other forgotten bits, too, including a pork tenderloin, vintage unknown. I vaguely remembered buying it on sale last winter (or was it the winter before?), after which it migrated under the bacon and behind the squishy blue ice pack that my husband uses to cool down his sore legs after long runs.
Pork tenderloin, I thought as it defrosted on the counter, is lean and meaty, exactly what the National Pork Board was talking about in their old "other white meat" campaign.
Like the original white meat, chicken, it carries the flavors of robust sauces and marinades beautifully, which made me think of the spicy garlicky sauce from the cashew chicken recipe. That sauce would work particularly well if! cut the pork into pieces and skewered it, satay style.
As I threaded the pork onto skewers, I remembered that there were pineapple chunks in the fridge, rejected by the baby, I think, for being too fibrous for her one tiny bottom tooth. I had planned to puree the chunks with tofu for her lunch. But surely she could spare a few for me to slip onto the skewers with the pork?
Pork and pineapple is a classic (and delectable) combination. And slathered with spicy cashew sauce, it sounded like the ideal way to perk up this cloudy, dreary day.
I had nearly everything on hand to make the sauce except the fresh jalapenos and lime, so I substituted crushed red pepper flakes and lemon.
Then I brushed it all over the pork and pineapple chunks and preheated the broiler (the grill was closed up for the winter).
Broiling pineapple coated in brown sugar and spices has a smoky, juicy, caramelized scent that quickly filled the kitchen, mingled with the aroma of pig and garlic. My husband and I happily ate it for dinner, dipped in more of the pungent sauce.
But even so, there was still some sauce left over. I spooned it into a little container and stored it (labeled!) in the freezer that for now, one pork tenderloin down, seemed to have plenty of space.
Serves4 to 6
Cooking Time45 min
Cooking Time - Text45
Total Timeunder 1 hour
OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together, game day
Recipe Coursemain course
Dietary Considerationmain course
Taste and Texturefruity, garlicky, meaty, nutty
Type of Dishskewer
- 1 cup roasted salted cashew nuts
- 6 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, with some stems
- ¼ cup safflower or olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Juice of 1 lemon, plus lemon wedges for garnish
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pork tenderloin (about 1½ pounds), cut into 1¼-inch chunks
- 2 cups fresh pineapple chunks
In a blender or food processor, combine the nuts, 2 tablespoons cilantro, the oil, garlic, soy sauce, sugar, red pepper flakes, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons water. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. Taste and season with salt and pepper if desired.
Season the pork all over with salt and pepper. Smear on enough cashew mixture to coat the pieces thoroughly (use about half of the mixture), and reserve the remaining cashew sauce. Let the pork marinate at room temperature while you preheat the broiler. Or refrigerate for up to 12 hours before cooking.
Preheat the broiler. Thread the pork and pineapple chunks onto metal skewers, alternating the two. Broil the skewers, turning once, until the pork is singed in parts and the center is cooked through, about 12 minutes.
Sprinkle the pork skewers with the remaining 4 tablespoons cilantro and serve with lemon wedges and the remaining cashew sauce.
2010 Melissa Clark, Inc.