Sweet and Spicy Pork

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This request came from a friend that loves pork. Listening to him, it sounds like he likes other meat, but eats pork in some form at least four days a week. I think from now on I’ll just call him “Pork Chop.”

Anyway, he was wondering about doing something besides baking it and having it with apple sauce. I have to admit, I love pork and more often than not, I’ll simply season it with salt, pepper, garlic and rosemary, bake it and have it with apple sauce, so I do know where he’s coming from. The one thing I like to do when eating it that way is to make a simple pan sauce by just adding a tiny bit of water to the pan once the pork is removed, and letting the water reduce using a wooden spoon to be sure to gently get all the little bits off the bottom of the pan. This also gives the pork a few minutes to rest before you cut it, which will even keep a simple chop a little moister for eating, as well as adding that extra flavor that would have just got washed down the drain. Oh yeah, it also makes cleaning the pan easier because you are not letting those little bits harden on the bottom while you eat.

Since he asked me for something different, I asked what he had in the cupboard besides apple sauce. As soon as he said pineapple, I naturally thought of sweet and sour. This is one way to make a sweet and sour that isn’t so sweet your fillings will hurt and has a little spicy kick to it. I get a lot of the heat from the fresh ginger, so be sure to taste it before adding too much chili paste at the end. Since there is no batter on the pork, you get to skip the most time consuming and messiest parts of the traditional sweet and sour and there is no frying necessary. I get most of the sweet flavor from the Hoisin sauce, which also adds a lot of Asian flavor, but I do add a touch of honey at the end, which you can omit if you find it sweet enough already.

Sweet and Spicy Pork
For 4-6 servings

1 lb. pork loin or other trimmed cut of pork, cut into 1½-inch cubes
1 head of broccoli, blanched (tops cut into flowerets with the stems sliced)
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
1 carrot, sliced
1 red pepper, chunked
¼ pineapple, chunked
3-4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 piece of ginger about the size of my thumb (OK, your thumb), chopped
1 C pineapple juice
1½ T Hoisin sauce
1 T ketchup
1 T rice vinegar
1½ t coriander
1½ t cumin
1 t turmeric
1 t red pepper flakes
¼ t ground fennel seeds or tarragon
1 T honey
1 t chili paste
3 T flour
4 T oil

Get a large skillet or wok hot. Dust the pork with the flour. Get the oil hot and brown the pork on all sides. Add the ginger and garlic, and season with the coriander, cumin, turmeric, fennel seeds and pepper flakes, and sauté for about 2 minutes to allow the spices to bloom. Add the onions, carrot and pepper, and sauté for about 1 minute and then add the pineapple juice, Hoisin sauce, ketchup and vinegar, and mix well, letting it come to a low boil and thicken. Add the broccoli and pineapple and then the honey and chili paste to taste. Serve with rice.

Trained under Master Chef Anton Flory at Top Notch Resort in Stowe, Vt., Smitty is a personal chef specializing in dinner parties, cooking classes and special events. For more information and archived copies of Stir it Up, visit chefsmitty.com. Smitty welcomes your questions and comments at [email protected] or (530) 412-3598.

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Chef Smitty
Smitty is a personal chef specializing in dinner parties, cooking classes and special events. Trained under Master Chef Anton Flory at Top Notch Resort in Stowe, Vt., Smitty is known for his creative use of fresh ingredients. Smitty has been teaching skiing at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows for more than 26 years each winter, and spends his summers working for High Sierra Waterski School since 2000. Smitty has been writing his chef column for Tahoe Weekly since 2005.