Sweet and Spicy Pork and Pineapple Tacos

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I’ve found a lot of favorite new recipes on Mel’s Kitchen Cafe recently. This one I’ve already made twice and know it’ll be a frequent repeater because it’s absolutely yummy (especially with ancho chili powder- you must try it!) and comes together so so quickly. Pork tenderloin might be my favorite cut of meat- it’s super lean and still has so much flavor. These pork tacos are sweet (thanks to the pineapple/juice) and just a bit spicy (from the chili powder/cayenne) and amazingly tender. We wrapped the sweet and spicy pork filling in warm corn tortillas (the Tortillaland uncooked corn tortillas from Costco) and topped them with salsa verde, a touch of sour cream, and guacamole.

Sweet and Spicy Pork and Pineapple Tacos

INGREDIENTS

2 lbs. pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. chili powder (I used ancho chili powder because I love the flavor)
pinch of cayenne pepper (more to taste, if wanted)
1/4 cup pineapple juice
3 cups diced pineapple (fresh or frozen preferred to canned)
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
warm corn or flour tortillas, for serving
salsa verde, for serving (optional)
sour cream, for serving (optional)
guacamole or avocado, for serving (optional)

DIRECTIONS

1. Heat the oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the pork pieces and add them to the hot skillet, browning on each side until golden (the pork doesn’t need to cook all the way through in this step, just get a nice color on all the pieces).

2. Stir in the garlic, cumin, chili powder and cayenne and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the juice and pineapple and simmer the mixture until the pork is just cooked through, 5-8 minutes.
Stir in the cilantro. Serve with corn or flour tortillas and salsa, sour cream, and guacamole (all optional).

Serves 8 (I halve it to serve four.)

(Adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe)

By in Pork, Southwestern ·

Slow-Cooker Cuban Pork

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Succulent, slow-cooked, shredded Cuban pork. Authentic? I don’t know. But really really good. I’m honestly a little sick of it because we had it so many times this past week- 3 lbs. of pork loin is much more than enough for 2.75 people. (Clara is almost eating enough now to be counted a whole person.) We mixed it up though and had it several different ways: over Cuban rice with black beans (recipe coming!) and mango-avocado salsa the first night, stuffed with said rice in a burrito the second, grilled as a Cuban sandwich the next, and a few days later in a burrito bowl (with more of that rice and beans, chipotle cream, and avocado, etc.).

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For the most flavorful, tender meat use a pork shoulder. I had a pork loin, which is much leaner, in the freezer so that’s what I used. It was still awesome. For that mango-avocado salsa combine a fresh (I actually used frozen) diced mango, a diced avocado, juice 1/2 lime, handful cilantro, diced red onion, and salt, freshly ground black pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes to taste. Serve on top of pork with rice and beans and/or tortilla chips. Instructions to make a Cubano included below.

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Slow- Cooker Cuban Pork

INGREDIENTS

1 (2.5- 3.5 lb.) pork shoulder or loin, trimmed of fat
1 heaping Tbsp. cumin
1 heaping Tbsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper and/or crushed red pepper
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves smashed garlic
1 medium white or yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 lime, juiced
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken stock

Cuban Sandwich:
slow-cooked Cuban pork
deli-sliced ham (I used Virginia)
thinly sliced Swiss cheese
yellow or Dijon mustard
thinly sliced pickles
Ciabatta, Cuban, or French bread

DIRECTIONS

1. To make the pork: In a small bowl, mix the cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper. Evenly rub the spices all over the pork. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Sear the pork on each side until browned all over.

2. Transfer to a slow cooker. Add the garlic, onion, lime juice, orange juice and chicken stock. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or until the meat completely falls apart. Remove from the slow cooker and shred with a fork. Return it to the slow cooker to stay warm in the juices (unless you are making sandwiches, then reserve the juices for dipping).

3. To make Cuban sandwiches: Spread mustard on the bread, then layer Swiss cheese, pickle slices, ham, shredded pork, and more cheese. Spread tops with butter and grill until the cheese has melted and the bread is golden. Serve with reserved juices for dipping. (Or if you are using ciabatta rolls, spread with mustard then melt the cheese on the ciabatta under the broiler before adding the pickles, ham, and pork.)

Serves many.

(Adapted from Bev Cooks)

By in Pork ·

Hawaiian Fried Rice

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Fried rice is one of my favorite dinners. Once you complete all of the prep it cooks so quickly and you can include lots of protein and veggies, making for a relatively healthy meal (especially compared to take-out, though I love that too!). I have recipes for Shrimp Fried Rice (can sub chicken) and Pineapple Mango Fried Rice. This fried rice has a Hawaiian twist. It probably isn’t authentic Hawaiian because I didn’t use spam. If you’re brave, be my guest. I’ll stick with deli sliced ham or Canadian bacon. Fresh pineapple is a must though to achieve that perfect balance of sweet and salty (and spicy with some added sriracha)!

Hawaiian Fried Rice

INGREDIENTS

~2 Tbsp. canola, coconut or peanut oil
1 medium shallot, minced
1/2 large red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1 carrot, peeled and grated
3 large eggs, whisked
4 cups cooked white or brown rice, cold (prepared ahead/leftover refrigerated rice)
1 1/4 cups ham or Canadian bacon, diced
~ 2 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
2/3 cup frozen peas
1 1/2 cups fresh pineapple, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
fresh cilantro, chopped, to taste
sriracha or crushed red pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS

1. Prep all ingredients ahead of time. This is key because once you start cooking, it moves fast!

2. Heat 1/2 Tbsp. oil in a large wok or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallot, pepper, garlic, ginger, and carrot and saute for several minutes, until golden and slightly softened. Remove from the pan to a plate and set aside. Return the pan to the heat and lightly coat with cooking spray. Pour the whisked eggs into the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until almost cooked through. (They’ll cook FAST.) Remove the eggs from the pan and set aside on the same plate. Once cooled, break them up into tiny pieces with a knife or fork.

3. Return the pan to the heat and add the remaining 1 1/2 Tbsp. oil. Add the rice and spread into a single layer. Cook, only stirring every other minute or so, for 5-8 minutes until the rice is golden and warmed throughout. Add the ham and cook for several more minutes.

4. Stir in the vegetables/eggs that you set aside, 1 Tbsp. soy sauce, the sesame oil, peas, and pineapple. Cook, stirring frequently, for several minutes until warmed throughout. Add the green onions, cilantro, sirracha or red pepper, and adjust seasonings to taste (adding another Tbsp. of soy sauce if necessary). Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

(Adapated from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe)

By in Asian, Fruit, Pork ·

Citrus Ancho Grilled Chicken or Pork

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This marinade is amazing. I’ve made it twice now- both times with chicken breast (although pork tenderloin would be fantastic) and served it as tacos. The citrus (orange and lime) + brown sugar + ancho chile powder works magic on a lean, boring cut of meat. This could also be prepared as kabobs, threaded with onions and peppers or pineapple and mango and served over a bed of rice or quinoa.

Ancho chili powder can be found at Whole Foods or in the Latin section of many grocery stores. It’s my favorite of all chili powders and I use it constantly. So stock up- you won’t be sorry. A few other recipes using ancho chili powder: Chicken Skewers with Ancho Sauce, Maple Ancho Grilled Salmon, and Slow-Cooker Carnitas.

Citrus Ancho Grilled Chicken or Pork

INGREDIENTS

1- 1 1/2 lbs. boneless chicken breast or pork tenderloin, cut into strips or cubed
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
2 Tbs. canola oil
2 tsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. pure ancho chile powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

for serving as tacos:
corn or flour tortillas
cheese (Monterey or Pepper or Colby Jack)
lettuce
salsa (tomatillo highly recommended)
sour cream
diced avocado
chopped cilantro
diced white onion

DIRECTIONS

1. In a medium bowl, whisk the orange juice, lime juice, oil, sugar, ancho powder, garlic, pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.

2. Add the chicken or pork, toss to coat, cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 4 hours.

3. Preheat outdoor grill or indoor grill pan to medium-high heat. Lightly oil and grill the meat (if the meat is cubed, you’ll want to thread it onto skewers before grilling) until the juices run clear (time will depend on the size and type of meat). Let rest several minutes before slicing (if needed) and serving.

4. To serve as tacos, melt cheese on tortillas over medium heat on the stove or griddle. Fill with meat and toppings and serve.

Serves 4-6.

(Adapted from Fine Cooking)

By in Chicken, Pork, Southwestern ·

Pork Loin with Mushroom Cream Sauce

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This recipe comes from sister who made it for our Christmas dinner. We all loved it and so I made it again last week. It’s fancy enough for a special occasion, yet simple enough for any night. You can roast it in the oven (after searing on the stove-top) or slow-cook it in the crock pot and walk away (my preferred method). You can even skip the marinade and just rub the Dijon and thyme on right before it goes in. I used half in half instead of heavy cream in the sauce. It was plenty rich but needed a little help from cornstarch to thicken. I suspect a combination of milk and sour cream would make an equally delicious sauce. Serve with mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes (dreamy sweet potato casserole recipe up next!), or even rice or pasta.

Pork Loin with Mushroom Cream Sauce

INGREDIENTS

1 6-7 lb. pork loin, trimmed of fat
¼ cup Dijon mustard
4 tsp. dried thyme (I use ground thyme)
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
¼ cup olive oil (if browning on the stove)
2 cups chicken broth/stock
2 cups heavy cream or half and half
1 lb. sliced mushrooms (I use cremini)
chopped fresh parsley or dried parsley, for garnish

DIRECTIONS

1. A few hours before cooking, pat meat dry. Combine mustard, thyme, salt, and pepper. Rub into pork. Wrap in wax paper and then in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to brown.

2. To cook in the oven: Heat oil in a roasting pan and brown pork on all sides. Add chicken stock and roast in an oven preheated to 350 degrees for about 1 – 1 ½ hours or until thermometer registers 140 degrees. The meat will be very rare but it will finish cooking in the sauce. The thermometer is important if you don’t want dry, tough meat.

To cook in a slow-cooker: Place pork in slow cooker with chicken broth and cook on high for about 4-5 hours, until tender.

3. Remove meat and cover to rest while you make the sauce. Add cream to juices remaining in roasting pan/slow-cooker and bring to a boil scraping up any bits of meat stuck to the pan.

4. Simmer gently until thickened. Add mushrooms and simmer until tender. Thinly slice meat and add it to the simmering sauce to reheat – about 5 minutes. If the sauce is too thin, combine 2 Tbsp. cornstarch with 2 Tbsp. cold water and add to sauce; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until thickened. It can be kept warm for quite a while if needed. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Serves 12-15 (I halved it to serve 6.)

Recipe from my sister, Katelyn Crump.

By in Pork ·