Think of grilling, and most of us probably think of those American standbys — hamburgers, steaks and even chicken — before we think of pork.
Bacon, sausage and ham constitute much of pork’s appeal, owing to their fatty makeup. And the tougher cuts, like the ribs and shoulder, become tender and succulent with long, low-temperature cooking.
But purchasing half of a very lean pig raised by friends earlier this year got me thinking about lighter preparations for pork. The boneless chops made for great stir-frying when I cut them into strips.
Inspired by the mangoes ripening on the counter, I devised a tropical relish or salsa of sorts to pair with a jerk-spiced pork and coconut rice. It was such a satisfying combination that I made it more than once.
The pork strips started in a marinade of traditional jerk spices, including cinnamon, cloves and allspice, minced fresh garlic and chopped roasted chilies. The basmati rice simply simmered in a barely diluted can of coconut milk with a whole bay leaf and cloves, finished with chopped cilantro. The peeled and diced mango was dressed up with more cilantro, lime juice and scallions from the garden.
It took just three minutes or so in a hot pan to cook the pork through, followed by another minute or so of deglazing with apple-cider vinegar. The resulting dish was sweetly spicy with a richness from the coconut milk rather than the meat, itself. The second time I made it, I finished it with toasted cashews.
A similar concept is this Caribbean-influenced recipe from “Bobby Flay’s Barbecue Addiction,” by Bobby Flay with Stephanie Banyas and Sally Jackson. It uses lean pork tenderloin, marinated in coconut milk before grilling.
Coconut-Marinated Pork Tenderloin With Green Onions and Peanuts
1 (14-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk
Grated zest of 2 limes
Juice of 2 limes
1 heaping tablespoon mild curry powder
2 teaspoons mild Spanish paprika
6 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
3 tablespoons peeled and grated, fresh ginger
1 Scotch bonnet chili, chopped, or 2 tablespoons Scotch bonnet hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 pork tenderloins, 1 pound each, trimmed of excess fat
2 tablespoons oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 green onions, halved lengthwise and finely chopped
1/2 cup coarsely chopped, roasted, unsalted peanuts
2 tablespoons finely chopped, fresh cilantro leaves
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
Hot sauce, for serving
Combine the coconut milk, lime zest, lime juice, curry powder, paprika, garlic, ginger, chili and black pepper in a bowl. Add the pork; turn to coat in marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 8 hours.
Heat your grill to high for indirect grilling. Remove pork from refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking; pat dry with paper towels.
Brush pork with the oil; season with 1/4 teaspoon salt or more to taste. Put pork directly over heat; grill, turning as needed, until charred on all sides, for about 8 minutes. Remove to cooler part of grill (indirect heat); cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into center of pork registers 150 F, for about 12 minutes.
Transfer pork to a platter; tent loosely with foil. Let rest for 10 minutes.
Combine the green onions, peanuts, cilantro and allspice in a bowl; season with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste.
Slice pork across the grain into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Sprinkle with green onion-peanut topping; serve with hot sauce.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.