My earliest remembrances of the combination of pork, pineapple, onion and green bell pepper stemmed from my introduction to shish kebabs many years ago. Unfortunately I must admit that I was not impressed. I realize now that my displeasure arose from the fact that once grilled, the mound of food on my plate consisted of pieces of pork, many of which were charred and overcooked while others were far too raw on the inside, pieces of onion that were burnt on the edges and raw in the center… with the bell peppers fitting the same decription. Raw, burnt and dry with no redemptive flavors! The fact that the pineapple came from a can didn’t help the equation either…!
Wanting to give this potentially wonderful combination of ingredients a second chance I tried sweet and sour pork at a number of different restaurants through the years. Better… but still not great. At least the dishes weren’t a mish-mash of overcooked and undercooked ingredients. What bothered me on each occasion, however, was that the ingredients were swimming in an olympic-sized pool of uninteresting sauce that seemed to serve no other purpose than to make a little look like a lot… not at all satisfying!
As it so happened Dayton recently created an absolutely magnificent Sweet and Sour Pork following a photo shoot here in our kitchen that left us with a beautifully ripe pineapple, dozens of onions plus bell peppers of all shapes and colors that needed to be utilized immediately. The final result? A glorious combination dish of flavorful, tender and succulent pork, the pineapple contributing sweet richness and the onions, bell peppers and garlic lending a rich garden earthiness. The sauce was thick, glossy, satisfying and… well… simply superb!
Sweet and Sour Pork
Preheat the oven to 400°.
Cut into 1 – 1/2 inch to 1 -3/4 inch cubes:
1 – 1/2 lb pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat
Season the pork with:
All-Purpose Meat Rub
Chef’s Note: The recipe for our special blend can be found with the recipe for Brisket of Beef with Portabella Mushroom and Dried cherry Sauce.
Allow the pork to absorb the flavors of the rub for a minimum of 1 hour. Meanwhile, cut into 1-inch pieces and set to the side:
1 large green bell pepper, seeded and deveined
Cut into quarters and set to the side:
- 1 large peeled white onion, quarters separated
Microplane and set to the side:
- 5 large whole, peeled garlic cloves
Using a sharp chef’s knife, remove the top and bottom from:
- 1 sweet, ripe pineapple
Trim the sides by cutting from the top to the bottom to a depth that will remove the “eyes”, rotating the pineapple as you work Cut the pineapple in half vertically, reserving one half for future use. Cut the remaining half lenghwise into two equal pieces and remove the fibrous core from each. Cut into chunks and set to the side:
Place a large 12-inch sauteuse over moderately high heat. While the pan is heating dredge the seasoned pork in:
- All-purpose flour
When the pan is thoroughly hot add:
- 2 – 3 T extra virgin olive oil
With the pan hot the oil should immediately begin to shimmer and smoke slightly. Add the floured pork to the sauteuse, shaking the pieces to remove excess flour before placing them in the pan in a single layer:
Brown until golden colored on each side:
Transfer the browned meat to a bowl on the side. To the sauteuse add, if necessary, an additional turn of:
- extra virgin olive oil
the green bell pepper
the microplaned garlic
Sauté, stirring frequently, until the onion begins to soften and take on color. Add:
the reserved pineapple
Stir to combine and continue cooking until the pineapple begins to take on color with hints of caramelization Season lightly, if necessary, with:
- freshly ground black pepper
To the sauteuse add:
- the reserved pork
Stir to combine then add:
- 4 T ketchup
- 2-1/2 T white vinegar
- 2 T brown sugar
- 1 T Dijon mustard
- 3 T soy sauce
- 1/2 C water
Stir well to combine, test for seasoning and adjust, if necessary:
Transfer the sauteuse to the preheated 400° oven, uncovered, and cook for 15 minutes. Spoon over seasoned and steamed Basmati rice and serve immediately. This magnificent dish is wonderfully sophisticated to the palate while being the epitome of simplicity in its preparation… Bon Appetit!
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