Happy Independence Day! Last week I got my red, white and blue foods out of the way, so this week I can write about fireworks. Or shall I say, fireworks in your mouth from delicious grilled flavors!
I wanted some recipes that are easy for the grill and super flavorful. And this first recipe, for marinated pork tenderloins, produced the best pork tenderloin I’ve ever had. This does require soaking the meat in marinade, but only for up to two hours. Which means you could pre-mix the marinade in the morning, dump it on the pork as soon as you get home, keep turning it as you go about your home-from-work routine and as the grill heats up, and then it’s ready.
Then the second key is to use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the meat. Pull it off the grill, test it, and when it hits 140 degrees, tent it in foil and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting it. I know the food safety rules say pork needs to cook to a higher internal temperature, but the internal temperature will keep rising as it rests. When you cut this pork after the resting time, it will be slightly pink in the thicker end, but it’s also extremely juicy. It made my husband a believer in pork tenderloin.
Next up, a recipe for aloha chicken, as in chicken with Hawaiian flavors. Here you marinate chicken breast in a sauce made from pineapple juice, ketchup, soy sauce, a little brown sugar, fresh ginger and garlic, for at least three hours and up to overnight. That gives the chicken breast plenty of time to absorb these flavors without breaking down the muscle from too much acidity.
You put it on the hot grill for about 8 minutes per side, depending on how big your breasts are, and it should retain that yummy pineapple flavor. Then you make it a complete dish by grilling some pineapple rings on the grill as well and eating them together. Delish!
I have four festive food ideas that feature red, white and blue without being overly cheesy. No Jell-O here, no flag cake decorated with blueberries and strawberries (though yes, most red and blue in these recipes is from blueberries and strawberries and/or raspberries).
And finally, for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike, these smoky Portobello mushroom cheeseburgers. I love a grilled Portobello cap, but they aren’t always the most filling. But if you add smoked Gouda, pickled peppers, and some fresh greens, then it’s going to be more satisfying.
2 pork tenderloins, about 2½ pounds total, trimmed
Salt, to taste
To make the balsamic-rosemary marinade, in a food processor, combine the vinegar, olive oil, soy sauce, brown sugar and pepper and pulse until blended. With the motor running, drop the rosemary and garlic through the feed tube and continue to process until fairly smooth. Place the tenderloins in a nonreactive dish and pour the marinade over them. Cover and let stand at room temperature, turning occasionally, for up to two hours.
Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct grilling over medium-high heat. Remove the tenderloins from the marinade, reserving the marinade.
Grill the meat over the hottest part of a charcoal fire or directly over the heat elements of a gas grill. Turn the meat every 4 to 5 minutes and baste with the marinade for up to 5 minutes before the meat is done until cooked to your liking, about 20 minutes total for medium (slightly pink at the center and juicy).
To test for doneness, insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the tenderloins; it should register 140 degrees. The temperature will rise another 5 to 10 degrees while the meat is resting.
Transfer the tenderloins to a carving board, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 5 minutes. Carve into slices across the grain and at an angle to the cutting board. Season with salt. Serve the tenderloins hot, warm or at room temperature. Serves 4 to 6.
4 ounces peppadew peppers, thinly sliced (about ½ cup)
1 cup loosely packed arugula
Heat an outdoor grill to medium-high heat (about 375 to 425 degrees). Whisk together the Dijon and mayonnaise in a small bowl and set aside.
Brush mushrooms on both sides with the oil, then season with salt and pepper. Place the mushrooms on the grill stem-side down, cover, and grill for 4 minutes. Flip the mushrooms, cover, and grill until mushrooms are tender, about 4 minutes more.
Divided the Gouda among the mushroom caps. Arrange the buns cut-side down on the grill. Cover and cook until the cheese is melted and the cut sides of the rolls are golden-brown, about 1 minute more.
Place the bottom halves of the buns cut-side up on plates and spread with half of the Dijonaise. Top each with a mushroom. Top with the peppadews and arugula. Spread the cut side of the bun tops with the remaining Dijonaise, place on the arugula to close the burgers, and serve.
No-grill option: You can also bake the mushrooms instead of grilling them: Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the oiled and seasoned mushrooms on a rimmed baking sheet stem-side down and roast until just tender, about 15 minutes. Flip them, fill the caps with the Gouda, and continue to bake until the cheese is melted, 2 to 3 minutes. Toast the buns in the oven.