Tender glazed, lean pork with a burst of sunny pineapple served over brown rice.
Simple. Healthy. Delicious.I have a confession to make…although I love to cook, during the summer I really try to spend as little time in the kitchen preparing meals as possible. True story.
Oh, and another teensy confession: I haven’t written a menu plan all summer. (Gasp!) I’m really livin’ on the edge.
I try to keep dinner delicious, preferably healthy, and easy to prepare. Dinner during the summer = a laid back affair. Quick dinners are a necessity with all of the lounging at the beach, exploration of neighboring towns, and hiking in the woods there is to do around here in the warmer weather. The bottomline–I’m pretty much worn out and feeling lazy when it mealtime rolls around. Join us for dinner on any summer night, and you are likely to find a simple grilled meat, a vegetable (or two) and a starch of some sort.
Hey, wait a minute! Now that I’m typing it, I think I just described our meals all year long.
The point is that although sometimes I get a little crazy and prepare something decadent and a tad more labor intensive, most of the time, we eat delicious, simple, and approachable food. But what about nights when the heat & humidity have zapped any form of thought right out of my head? Do I cave and just pick up a pizza? Pssh!
OK, sometimes I do. But I usually end up making some form of stir fry containing whatever I lay eyes on first when I walk into the kitchen.
Case in point: this Pork and Pineapple Stir Fry.
Hold the elevator! Did I just call pork healthy? Yes. Yes I did. Did you know that ounce for ounce, pork tenderloin has nearly identical amounts of fat/calories as boneless, skinless chicken breast? Pork is not the enemy! But, after armed with that knowledge, pork just really isn’t your thing, then go ahead and substitute boneless skinless chicken breasts. You know, if you’re concerned about such matters. Either way, keep reading because I’m going to show you how to cut up a fresh pineapple, and peel & mince garlic. Valuable Life Skills, for sure.
On to the very minimal cast of ingredients shot…
See? Simple. Not much going on here, except for fresh pineapple, soy sauce, olive oil, ground ginger, garlic, a pork loin, and a dash of salt & pepper.
One important thing to remember about fresh pineapple is that the more yellow the skin, the riper the fruit. So if you aren’t going to cut it up for a few days, get a greener pineapple and let it hang out on the counter for a bit to ripen. I realize that dealing with a whole pineapple may seem like a lot of work, but it’s really pretty easy. I was able to peel and chop this pineapple in about 6 minutes, start to finish, with frequent stops to photograph the process. You can too.
I like buying whole pineapples because they taste better and are much fresher than the pre-cut variety found in the deli section of the store. I won’t even attempt to compare the taste of a fresh pineapple to that of canned pineapple–they are barely the same species. Besides the taste difference, you get a lot more fruit for the money when buying fresh.
Start by grabbing a big, sharp knife and lopping about 1/2-inch off of each end of the pineapple. I use an 8″ chef for jobs such as these. It makes my MIL nervous when a grab “such a big knife.” If you don’t have a large chef knife, use the biggest, sharpest knife available. You have a higher chance of knife-wielding injury using a dull knife, or knife that is not adequate for the job than when using a big, sharp knife. I’m all about using proper tools for the job.
In fact, if I could only have 2 knives in my arsenal for the rest of my life, I would want an 8″ chef knife and a paring knife. Those two knives will handle 98% of knife-related kitchen tasks.
But I digress. Stand the pineapple up on end, and make 1/4-inch cuts downward around the perimeter of the fruit to remove the spiky skin.
By the way–it’s not a bad idea to have a paper or dish towel handy to wipe the skin flecks off of the knife and cutting board as you go.
I’m usually able to peel the pineapple with 6 cuts, making a nifty hexagon. The sunburst-like circle in the center is the core. Pineapple cores are tough and fibrous, neither of which attributes make for good eating. The core must be removed.
To get to the core, make a downward cut lengthwise through the center of the peeled pineapple to slice it in half.
Flip the halves so that they lie flat on the cutting board before cutting them in half lengthwise, again.
The pineapple core can then be removed one of two ways. One way is to stand a quarter of the pineapple on end, and make a downward cut to remove the core. (I do it this way.)
The other, and perhaps safer method is to lay the quarter on the cutting board and make a diagonal cut around the core to remove it. Do whatever you are comfortable with, man.
To cut the pineapple into chunks, make a few lengthwise cuts. The number of cuts will depend on how big you want the pineapple chunks to be. I may or may not have mowed down a big slice or two during this process. It happens.
Turn the long slices a quarter turn and then cut them widthwise into chunks.
An average sized pineapple usually yields 3-4 cups of pineapple chunks. Since this recipe only calls for two cups, save the rest for snacking. Or better yet, freeze the remainder in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet, then transfer to a freezer bag for later use in smoothies.
Next up is trimming all of the fat off the pork loin. I know. I know! I like my fats as much as the next person. Fat has flavor, Pork Fat Rules, and all that. However when making a stir fry, I’ll be sauteing everything in oil so the extra fat on the meat is redundant.
My jiggles can so identify with that last part of that statement. I blame it on having four children. I’ll blame my jiggles on them until the day I die–mark my words!
Grab the end of the layer of fat, pulling upward. You might have to try a few different spots, but some part of the fat will lift away from the meat.
Run a sharp knife in short, quick bursts along the pocket formed when the fat was pulled upward, until a sheet of fat has been removed. You can stop here, or…
…continue to make thin cuts along the top of the pork loin to remove more fat.
Slice the pork into thin medallions against the grain. Then slice the medallions into strips, about 1/2-inch by 2-inches.
To peel the garlic, remove a few cloves from a garlic bulb.
Place the flat side of a large knife over a single clove of garlic, and give the blade a good whack with the heel of your hand. Repeat with the other cloves. If the thought of whacking a sharp object with your hand makes you a little queasy, then skip the knife and whack the garlic with the bottom of a soup can.
Whacking the garlic clove will loosen the peel so that it is easily removed. As an added bonus, the whack bruises the clove, which in turn forces the garlic to release some oil, therefore releasing more garlic flavor to the dish.
Thinly slice the garlic cloves widthwise.
To mince, tightly run the knife over the slices lengthwise.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet set over medium heat, until hot. (About 1 minute.) To test for heat, I hold my hand several inches over the top of the pan. If I have to pull my hand away, the pan is hot. A few drops of water will also “dance” if tossed into the pan. I hate hot stuff spitting at me, so I use the hand method.
Place the strips of pork into the skillet. Don’t worry about crowding, but be careful not to overlap the meat.
Cook the pork, stirring frequently until the pork is mostly cooked through. (About 3 minutes.)
Pour the soy sauce over the pork, then add the ginger, minced garlic, and a good pinch of kosher salt and black pepper. Stir the pork to coat. Saute for another minute.
Dump the pineapple into the skillet, and give everything a good stir.
Pour in the juice of one small lime. (About 2 tablespoons.) Stir. Continue cooking for another 30-60 seconds or so, or until pineapple is warm and pork is cooked through.
Serve Pork and Pineapple Stir Fry over hot, cooked brown rice or noodles, and a wedge of lime. Go ahead and sprinkle on a little chopped parsley if you have it. Then sit down and
feast on enjoy a quick and delicious meal!
Pork and Pineapple Stir Fry
Yield 6 Servings
Tender glazed pork, stir fried with a burst of sunny pineapple and served over brown rice. Simple. Healthy. Delicious.
Prep Time: 20 minutes, Cook Time: 8 minutes, Total Time: 28 minutes
For the Rice:
1 C. Brown Rice
1 tsp. olive oil or butter
2 C. water
For the Stir Fry:
2 C. fresh pineapple from 1 whole pineapple
1 ½ pounds pork loin roast
1 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. soy sauce
1 tsp. ground ginger
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
3 Tbs. fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
For the Rice:
- Cook rice in a large saucepan by sautéing rice over medium heat with a teaspoon of olive oil (or butter) for 1 minute.
- Increase heat to high and pour the water over the rice.
- Bring the water to boiling. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer rice for 20-30 minutes, or until rice is tender and the water is mostly absorbed; stirring occasionally. (Only a teaspoon or two of water should remain.)
- Fluff rice with a fork, and let stand covered until ready to serve.
For the Stir Fry:
- Peel and core the pineapple. Cut remaining fruit into 1 inch chunks. Set aside.
- Trim any fat from the pork tenderloin. Slice the tenderloin into ½-inch thin strips, about 2-inches long.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat for about a minute, or until hot.
- Once the oil is hot, add pork and sauté it for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until pork is cooked through.
- Add the soy sauce, ginger, and garlic to the skillet, stirring to coat.
- Add pineapple to the pan, and continue stirring for 30 seconds.
- Remove from heat, and stir in the lime juice.
- Serve pork mixture over a bed of brown rice with a wedge of lime. Sprinkle chopped parsley over top, if desired.