Lime and Cilantro Grilled Pork

The Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862 commemorates the defeat of a large French army by a much smaller Mexican army of about four thousand soldiers during the French intervention in Mexico.  In late 1861 Napoleon III, under the 1861 Treaty of London, sent troops to Mexico alongside English and Spanish forces to collect debts owed by a previous Mexican government.  President Benito Juarez vowed to pay nothing to the European powers, having announced the annulment of these debts.  The resulting defeat of the French by the Mexican forces was seen as a major victory, particularly since the French emperor Napoleon III had not lost a battle in over 50 years.  As a result of this battle the US armed forces were able to build in strength and strategic power and end the civil war, the reason why Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in the United States as well as in Mexico.

The first observance of Cinco de Mayo in America was in the state of California to celebrate the Mexican resistance to French rule.  The festivities were initially restricted to California but eventually became a regional holiday in Mexico.  A common misconception in the United States is that Cinco de Mayo is Mexico’s Independence Day, which it is not.  That date is actually September 16th, the most important national patriotic holiday in Mexico.  Cinco de Mayo, therefore, is not a federal holiday in Mexico.

Cinco de Mayo is, however, a celebration of great achievement and one that is respendent in many ways.  The red, green and white colors of the Mexican flag are the inspiration for the colorful dress, flowers, balloons, streamers and pinatas that set the stage for this grand celebration.  It is a time to enjoy and revel in great music.  We could, in fact, hear the mariachis serenading the attendees of a large street fair being held just a few blocks away from our home this past weekend.  It is also a time to enjoy traditional Mexican recipes and the best loved Mexican foods.  As I stepped onto our back balcony Sunday afternoon I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by the fragrant smells of lime and cumin wafting from barbeques and firepits that were turning out fare to feed the hungry throngs.  My thoughts immediately turned to mouth-watering delights such as fajitas, mole sauces, carnitas and chile verde.  It was time to think south of the border hence this deliciously piquant Lime and Cilantro Grilled Pork with Roasted Red Pepper and Tomatillo Salsa.  The delightful smells from the barbeque alone were reason enough to prepare this marvelous dish!

Lime and Cilantro Grilled Pork with Roasted Red Pepper and Tomatillo Salsa

From a pork loin slice and set aside:

  • 3 1/2 – 4-oz cutlets, allowing 1 – 2 per person

For the salsa, char well over an open flame, turning as necessary with a pair of tongs:

  • 1 large red bell pepper

Place the charred pepper in a plastic bag and seal.  Allow to sweat and cool for 20 minutes.  Remove the pepper from the plastic bag and gently remove the charred skin, which will be completely loosened, with your fingertips.  Wipe pepper with a paper towel.  Do not rinse the pepper under running water as this will remove much of the desired charred flavor.

Cut the pepper into quarters, remove the stem and seeds, cut into thin strips and dice.  Place dice in a medium sized mixing bowl.  Remove the husks from:

  • 6 – 8 tomatillos

Drizzle the tomatillos with:

  • extra virgin olive oil

Arrange the tomatillos on a hot grill:

Turn as grill marks appear and they begin to lighten in color with juices bubbling:

Transfer from the grill when they feel soft to the touch with a pair of tongs:

Cut the tomatillos in half, then quarters.  Divide each quarter into several pieces and transfer to the bowl with the roasted bell pepper.  To the bowl add:

  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/2 large bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 1 C red grape tomatoes, halved (cherry tomatoes can be substituted)
  • grated zest from 1 lime
  • juice of 1 fresh lime
  • 4 whole cloves garlic, peeled and microplaned
  • 1 – 2 turns extra virgin olive oil
  • salt, to taste
  • Southwest Rub, to taste

Mix well to combine.  Can be prepared in advance and refrigerated for flavors to meld.

To a mortar add:

  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
  • 3 – 4 whole peeled cloves garlic, microplaned
  • grated zest of 1 lime
  • freshly squeezed juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 – 2 T extra virgin olive oil

Pulverize the ingredients with a pestle, forming a thick, rich paste.  Transfer to a small bowl and add:

  • an additional 1/4 C extra virgin olive oil

Mix well and set aside.

Pound out the cutlets to approximately a thickness of 3/8-inch.  Season both sides with:

  • salt and pepper

Brush both sides of the cutlets with the oil infused with cilantro, garlic and lime.  Grill over a hot flame, approximately 3 – 4 minutes per side.  Serve with the Roasted Red Pepper and Tomatillo Salsa.  Garnish with fresh avocado, lime wedges and cilantro sprigs.  As an accompaniment to the meal we prepared oven roasted Russet potato spears seasoned with garlic-infused oil and a sprinking of the Southwest Rub prior to roasting.  It was a magnificent meal filled with south of the border flavors…  Bon Appetit!

– Southwest Rub –

This flavorful rub can be mixed and stored in a tightly covered glass jar.  It is extremely versatile and can be used to season and flavor all meats… chicken as well.  It is also a wonderful seasoning for oven roasted vegetables.

Mix together:

  • 1 C ground cumin
  • 1/2 C dried oregano
  • 1/2 C granulated garlic
  • 1/2 C salt
  • 2 T cayenne
  • 2 T black pepper, regular grind
  • 1 T smoked paprika
  • 1 T cornstarch

Copyright 2010 Via Aurea Designs, Inc., All Rights Reserved




Tags: , , , ,

Categories: Condiments, Pork, Rubs

Author:Steve Meyer & Dayton Azevedo

Food and fine cooking have been our passion for many years, fueled by the year-around abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables, poultry and meats, as well as aromatic spices and herbs readily available to us here in the San Francisco Bay Area, making adventuresome, creative and delicious 5-star cooking a reality in our kitchen. Our aim is to make it yours as well by utilizing our step by step instructions and serial photographs. Bon Appetit from our kitchen to yours...!


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