I went back to Ohio… but my pineapple ginger marinade was gone.

This week I am going on “vacation”. Well, it is more of just a trip but ‘vacation’ sounds way more impressive, don’t you think? We are traveling (by car) north to what several of my friends – and a large percentage of the population living on Hilton Head Island call the “motherland”… Ohio.

I lived on Hilton Head Island for a long time and it is a beautiful, wonderful place indeed with many (can you believe over 200!) very good and interesting restaurants. While the Island still retains some of it’s southern roots, it is a real melting pot of people – one of the best aspects of living there I think. On the one hand it can be enlightening to be around people from all over, but on the other hand, it can be difficult to ‘get ’r done’, i.e. squabbling, lack of compromise, so many transplants wanting everything to be just like it was in “insert town name here, Ohio”.

It’s curious to live in a place where so many people move to mostly because they loved it so much on vacation. I used to joke that it’s as if the Island magically set adrift from the Buckeye state and then took hold of the South Carolina coast or perhaps Charles Fraser (he developed Hilton Head for the most part) threw out a line as it was passing by and then anchored it good and taut in Calibogue Sound.

But I do like Ohio folks – in my opinion they should just slow down a bit, allow the southern way of life to percolate awhile and enjoy Lowcountry living. And I do like visiting my father-in-law Mike and his wife, Kay up in O-h-i-o. Their latest weather report of 70’s during the day and high 50’s (50’s!) at night is right on time for this southern girl. I’m also looking forward to trying some local Walleye and an exploratory trip to the West Side Market as well.

So as I am preparing for said vacation – finishing real (i.e. paying) work and packing a sweater (yes a sweater in August), I came across this marinade that uses fresh pineapple and ginger and realized I had not posted it yet. I love fresh pineapple but unless we have company or a party, I end up with that last cup or so uneaten. I hate to waste delicious fresh pineapple, so I made this marinade, and slathered it on some thick bone-in pork chops that then seared off in my hand-dandy grill pan. Easy peasy for the day before vacation, ya’ll.

The few ingredients are combined in the food processor and ground up to a chunky puree.

Slather the chops in the marinade, cover and allow to marinate several hours.

About 30 minutes before serving sear the chops. Here I used my grill pan because it was a rainy evening, but you could use your outdoor grill.

Turning the chops over you can see I got some good grill marks with my pan.

Baste the chops with the reserved marinade. Sorry this pic is blurry!

Once the chops are seared on both sides cover the grill pan (or remove to a covered roaster) and allow to cook until you reach your desired doneness. I like my pork slightly pink in the center. And keep in mind that meats continue to cook even after you remove fro direct heat.

Finished chop – still juicy and delicious. Fresh fruit salsa, scalloped potatoes or coconut jasmine rice would go great with this entree!

Pineapple Ginger Marinade for Pork Chops

  • 2 thick bone-in pork chops
  • 1 cup fresh pineapple chunks (and juice)
  • 2 tbl fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 tbl agave nectar
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • salt and pepper

In a food processor or blender mix all above ingredients except the salt and pepper. It will be thick and mostly smooth – some small chunks are okay. Reserve ¼ cup of this mixture for basting. Slather the balance of the marinade on the chops, cover and allow to chill in the refrigerator 4 hours, turning at least once.

Prepare your grill. If using a grill pan, brush on grape oil, or other oil with a high burn temperature threshold. When the grill pan or grill is hot (but not smoking) sprinkle the chops with salt and pepper to your taste and sear on each side. Baste with reserved marinade. Cover grill pan and cook to your desired doneness. If using a grill you may remove the chops to a roasting pan and roast in a preheated 350 degree oven. You can double this recipe.

This marinade is also very good on chicken – 2 large bone-in breasts or 2 thighs and 2 drumsticks or a combination of pieces.


The noble pig is ‘all that’ with mustard roasted pork loin

So today I finish the week’s posts with the third recipe in my creation of mustard roasted pork loin with creamy grits and okra. Getting to the meat of it, ehrrr… the pork loin. This cut of pork is pretty versatile – roasted, pan fried, grilled, smoked – there are many ways to get it from the refrigerator to the plate.

I absolutely love my gas grill and since it’s summer, I find it a snap to cook with it, keeping the mess and heat out of the house. Cooking outdoors is fun in and of itself, not to mention one isn’t allowed to command the grill, at our house anyway, without a proper libation – beer, wine or maybe an adult Arnold Palmer which we make with local favorite, Firefly Vodka (Wadmalaw Island, SC). Their sweet iced tea flavored vodka is in a word, delightful, especially mixed with icy lemonade and enjoyed among friends. I first tried this concoction during the RBC Heritage golf tournament last April and have been hooked ever since. It is quite refreshing if you are partial to iced tea, and if you aren’t, this may make an iced tea lover out of you.

Back to the pork. I actually have found that grilling alone, no matter if using charcoal or gas heat, can be tricky with pork loin. Pork loin is a lean cut, hence it can become dry if overcooked. I prefer my pork loin pink in color in the center and since pork loin, like many cuts of beef, needs to rest (and will continue to cook) before serving, getting the heat and timing just right can be tricky. The best course of action is to practice and take note of how your equipment (grill and range) cooks the pork within a specific time frame. Choosing a symmetrical loin of even thickness is a good idea too.

Over the years I have found that searing off the pork loin on a very hot grill and then roasting it in the oven gives me the best results. Believe me, I have turned some pork loins into shoe leather in the past when only utilizing the grill, so the lesson has been learned. Now I follow the at-home technique that many professionals use exclusively at work: searing and roasting. One could also wrap the loin in foil and roast on the grill and I would try this if I had no other alternative (if I was camping, for instance), but since I have a nice gas oven I see no reason to test fate. Plus I want pan drippings for my sauce.

The marinade is more like a liquidy ‘rub’ – thick with Dijon mustard, honey, garlic and rosemary. The flavor is best if the slathered loin can marinate, refrigerated, for 3 hours but at least one hour is permissible. Obviously, I adore this with creamy grits and crunchy fried okra – making a superb flavor and texture combination. But the loin could also be served with garlic mashed potatoes or even a good quality brown rice favored with stock and herbs, perhaps, if you are not into grits.

And before I forget, leftover pork loin also makes for a delicious sandwich. Add a crusty toasted bun, some caramelized onions, fresh greens and a dollop of homemade peach chutney (hint, hint) and you’ve got a lunch worthy of supper!

Ingredients include a nice pork loin, some fresh rosemary and garlic cloves. The honey is local from Yaveh Farms and is unfiltered, i.e. it includes some honeycomb.

Mix the marinade/rub ingredients together and…

slather it on the pork loin. I tied the two pieces of loin together with some kitchen twine. Refrigerate, covered, for 3 hours.

Remove the loin from refrigeration and allow to rest at room temperature while you heat the grill. Sear the loin on all sides but avoid flipping it around too much.

Place the seared loin on a rack in a roasting pan. Add wine or stock to roasting pan.

Place the roasted loin on a warmed platter and…

cover it loosely with foil. I am showing this because it is very important, even though I realize many home cooks know how and why to do this.

Meanwhile, pour the pan drippings from the roasting pan into a sauce pan.

Reduce the pan drippings and add 1 tablespoon each of honey and butter.

Finally whisk in the cream.

The sauce is ready. It is not thick.

Mustard pork loin served on a bed of creamy grits with accompanying sauce, topped with crispy fried okra. Yum!

Mustard Roasted Pork Loin

  • (1) 3-4 pound pork loin
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1/3 cup Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbl. honey
  • fresh rosemary, washed and minced, approximately ¼ cup
  • 1 cup white wine or vegetable or chicken stock or combination
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. fresh ground pepper

Wash and dry the pork loin. In a small bowl mix together the garlic, mustard, honey, and rosemary. Slather this mixture all over the pork loin. If your pork loin is in 2 pieces, tie together with cotton kitchen twine at several places along the loins to secure.

Place loin(s) on a platter, cover and refrigerate 1 – 3 hours. Prepare your grill about 1 hour 15 minutes (or more for charcoal) before planning to serve the pork loin.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Remove the pork from the refrigerator and allow to sit out 15 minutes or so (it’s still covered). On a hot grill sear the pork loin on all sides, careful not to flip it around too much. Remove the pork to a rack set in a roasting pan. Pour about 1 cup of liquid (either white wine or vegetable or chicken stock or some combination) in the bottom of the roasting pan.

Roast pork loin in oven for 30 minutes. Remove the loin from the roasting pan and allow to rest on a warmed platter, covered loosely with foil. Meanwhile make the sauce:

  • pan drippings
  • 1 tbl . honey
  • 1 tbl. butter
  • 2 tbl. cream
  • salt & pepper to taste

Pour the pan dripping through a sieve from the roasting pan into a medium saucepan. Allow this to come to a low boil and cook until reduced by about a third. Reduce heat and whisk in the honey, butter and cream. Taste and adjust salt and pepper. Serve immediately with sliced pork loin. Note: this sauce will not be thick.