Pineapple Pork Loin – A Taste of Aloha

pineapple pork loin vert

This year, I was fortunate to spend part of the winter break basking in the warm Hawaiian sun. I came back refreshed and inspired and wanted to share a little spirit of aloha.

I am a big fan of most things pineapple… and pork, so this recipe is right in my sweet spot. Pork loin is a flavorful and lean cut of meat which should serve well for many New Year resolutions. And as someone once said (Bourdain, maybe?), pork is the perfect vehicle for sauce! The meat is simply seasoned with salt, pepper and a hint of curry powder to help accentuate the pineapple flavor of the barbecue sauce.

Even though the pork loin could be cooked completely with either direct or indirect heat, I used both to ensure that the meat cooks evenly. Searing the meat with direct heat gives it some nice char and attractive grill marks without becoming too browned plus it adds another flavor layer to the finished dish. Moving the seared loin to the indirect side allows the meat to finish cooking more evenly and without me having to stand there flipping to it. The sauce is brushed on at the end and returned to direct heat side of the grill to caramelize the sugars in the sauce.

Grilling the pineapple sweetens and intensifies the flavor of the fruit as it’s sugars start to caramelize, plus it gives the fruit a slightly smoky flavor. Serve the pineapple alongside the pork with some white or coconut rice for a great Hawaiian-style meal!

Pineapple Pork Loin

serves six to eight

One 3-1/2 to 4 pound pork loin
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon yellow curry powder
Pineapple-Brown Sugar Barbecue Sauce (recipe follows)

For the grilled pineapple rings:
1 medium pineapple, trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch rings
2 tablespoons neutral flavored cooking oil

Method: direct and indirect grilling

(First, make the sauce.) Set up grill with two zones for direct and indirect cooking with medium-high heat. Brush and oil the grates before cooking.

Trim away any excess fat and silver skin from the pork loin; set aside on a small baking sheet. Combine the salt, pepper and curry powder and rub over all sides of the meat; use all of the spice mix. Place pork on the direct heat side of the grill and sear the meat for about 5 minutes per side or until marked. Transfer to the indirect side of the grill and close the grill cover. Cook for another 15 to 25 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 140°F (no more than 160°F if you like you pork well-done). Brush with Pineapple-Brown Sugar Barbecue Sauce and move to the direct side of the grill, sauce-side down. Cook for a minute or two, brush with more sauce and flip. Repeat this a couple times to caramelize the sauce (layers of flavor, baby!). Transfer the pork to a cutting board and tent with foil while you grill the pineapple.

Re-set grill to direct grilling over medium heat. Brush and re-oil the grates to keep the pineapple from sticking. Rub a thin layer of oil onto the the pineapple. Grill for 3 to 4 minutes per side or until well, marked.

I like to serve this family style with the pork loin and the pineapple all on one platter. Slice the pork loin cut into 1/2-inch pieces across the grain of the meat and the remaining sauce on the side.

pineapple pork loin - horz

This is a delicious and easy to prepare sauce to have in your back pocket. Prefect for pork, chicken, and definitely shellfish and fish. I added habanero chile to the sauce which is not necessarily Hawaiian, but more my latest chile obsession. The fruity flavor of this fiery chile is a no-brainer for this sauce. Removing the seeds and pith before mincing will greatly reduce the heat. If a little heat is not your thing, you can use half a chile or leave it out completely – the sauce is tasty with or without it.

Note: Wash your hands well after handling the chile and be careful to keep your hands away from your eyes (and other sensitive areas)!

Pineapple-Brown Sugar Barbecue Sauce

makes about 1 cup

Note:  Have all ingredients prepped and ready to go before cooking.  🙂

1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 to 1 habanero chile, seeded and minced (optional)
1 1/2 cups pineapple juice
1/3 cup ketchup
2 teaspoons soy sauce

Combine brown sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook (without stirring) until the sugar looks like molten lava (all the big bubbles will be gone).  Add the ginger, garlic, and habanero and stir until fragrant; about 30 seconds.  Carefully stir in the pineapple juice, ketchup, and soy sauce.  Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes or until the mixture is thick enough to lightly coat the back of a spoon. Keep warm until ready to use or cool and refrigerate for up to one week.

Cheers and Happy Grilling!

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