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.


Robust rules the grill with ancho chili lime steak

Sometimes you just feel like eating a steak and since I’ve had my cholesterol checked recently (all is well) that time is now. In recent years I have taken to buying grass fed, organic or otherwise locally farmed beef whenever my tastes turn bovine.

Small-production, grass-fed meat can be a lot more expensive than your average grain-fed beef, just as artisanal cheese costs more than industrial cheddar. So at the same time I have tended to purchase more affordable “bargain” cuts like sirloin, flank, chuck eye and skirt (my personal favorite) rather than a bone-in ribeye or porterhouse. I do realize that a bulk purchase of grass fed beef would significantly lower our over-all cost and we have considered making a freezer commitment. Unfortunately, reality set in and our current abode (a loft-style townhouse) is not roomy enough. Rest assured we will come back to this idea in the future!

Skirt and flank steak are my favorite bargain cuts. They have a rich beef flavor hiding covertly within that protein, just requiring a little thoughtful planning and a good marinade to tease what could be a tougher cut into tender submission. I play around a lot with rubs and marinades for my beef (and other meats too) and in most cases they contain garlic, some type of fruit (I’m partial to citrus) and beer, wine or alcohol, like Bourbon. Lately I’ve been loving the addition of peppers, from smoky and sublime Poblano (Ancho when dried) to kicky with chipotle, jalepeno and New Mexican varieties.

My tips for a great, marinated steak:

  • Salt just before grilling (no salt in the marinade)
  • Marinate at least 12 hours (24 is much better)
  • Allow the meat to come to room temperature (or close to it) before grilling
  • Sear the meat off on a clean, hot grill but do not flip it around too much
  • Invest in a good quality meat thermometer if you are unsure of your skills in determining meat “doneness”
  • Likewise it is not advisable to slice into a steak or other cut of beef to check its “doneness”
  • Allow the cooked meat to rest on a warmed platter, covered, before slicing and serving

Ingredients. I soak the ancho chilies in the warm syrup I make with just sugar and water.

Puree the chilies. My small food processor is the one electric kitchen tool I find indispensible. I use it almost everyday.

The chilies look like this after they are pureed.

Add the lime zest, garlic and fresh ginger to the chili puree along with the lime juice, pepper and paprika.

Beer goes in last. It doesn’t matte what brand you use – whatever brand you like. My hubby likes Belgian-style “Shock Top” so that’s what I used here.

As you may know I’m a fan of those huge zippered bags for marinating (and brining) and that’s what I’m using here too.

Sprinkle liberally with salt and sear the meat on a hot grill. I use gas but charcoal works great too. It would be a treat to use real wood coals, someday perhaps…

Here’s that beautiful flank steak, almost ready for the platter. I made this for my hubby on Father’s Day along with grilled bacon wrapped, stuffed banana peppers and grilled fresh corn on the cob. My husband’s favorites.

After removing the steak from the grill allow it to rest for a few minutes, loosely covered, before slicing. This steak was really juicy and tender to the bite with a peppery, meaty flavor.

Ancho Chili Lime Marinated Flank Steak

  • 1/3 cup Demera or brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2-3 dried ancho chili peppers
  • 2-3 inch piece of fresh ginger
  • 1 lime
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 tbl. ground pepper
  • 1 tsp. smoked sweet paprika
  • 1 beer
  • salt
  • 2 ½ – 3 lb Flank steak (or skirt or sirloin steak)

Prepare the marinade the day before you plan to grill and serve the steak. In a saucepan heat the water and sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil for 30 seconds and then remove from the heat. Add the dried Ancho chilies and allow them to soak for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel and then grate or finely mince the ginger. Remove the zest from the lime and squeeze the juice into a bowl. Mince or press the garlic. Set aside.

Remove any tough stems fro the Ancho chilies and grind in a food processor or blender along with the soaking liquid. When ground, pour into a bowl and add the garlic, lime zest and juice, ginger, pepper and paprika. Pour in the beer and mix well. Wash and dry the steak. Place the steak in a very large bag or glass dish, pour marinade over and secure bag (or cover with plastic wrap).

Place in the refrigerator to marinate for 24 hours, turning the bag over 2 or 3 times during this time. When ready to cook, prepare your grill. Remove steak from bag and sprinkle liberally with salt. Sear each side and grill to your desired doneness, but I suggest rare or medium rare for best results. When grilling is complete remove to a warmed platter, cover with foil and allow to rest for 5-8 minutes before slicing across the grain.