Pineapple Pork

I've been craving Chinese food, something a little rich and smoky with a bit of sweetness and it just wouldn't be summer if we didn't manage to cram fruit into every meal of the day. 

Creating and making a meal feels like such an indulgence to me right now; when we are in the school year I am typically in school, too. So although we have weekly standards, they rarely fall into the "fun, festive, culturally expansive" categories and instead land with a thud in the categories no one is too proud to advertise. Like..."leftover scramble night" or "hash night". I'm planning on doing some writing about meal planning, which I find stressful and a bit deceiving but right now I can say that when I'm busy, it shows up on the plate. Frustrating for me as I'm someone who loves to cook and sit down to a meal made with some feeling behind it. So when things do slow down a little, I often have moments of, "Hey! I'm not doing anything...I could cook. Actual food!" Tonight was one of those nights and so, instead of asking around to see if anyone had something left in their lunch they could eat for dinner (it happened once in a moment of desperation) I made something I knew would at least get marks for being colorful and hot. Luckily, it totally filled my take-out cravings. 

One piece of advice for this recipe, and cooking in general - If you use the pork tenderloin as suggested, don't be afraid to ask your butcher to prep it for you by removing the silvery skin you'll notice on the cut. Taking it off makes a big difference!! I've found that most people working behind the counter are happy to take an extra step for you. If they don't have pork tenderloin or that's not in your budget at the moment, ask what they have that would work for a stir-fry. I've learned so much (and gotten a lot of free/discounted stuff) over the years just by being conversational and expressing an interest when I'm putting in my order. 

Tonight we had this with rice and baby bok choy and white snap peas (who knew) from our CSA. Since the pork is really flavorful, just add about 1/2 cup chicken stock to a small, shallow pan, put it on medium high then add your baby bok choy and spread a few handfuls of snap peas around. Cover with a lid and steam for 5 minutes. Perfection! 

Ingredients:

1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp garlic powder
4 tbsp coconut oil or cooking oil of your choice
1 onion, cut into large dice
1 green or red pepper, also cut into large dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp ginger, minced
2 stalks thin, crisp, very green celery (sorry, this is not negotiable. clean out the vegetable drawer another day)
2 cups pineapple chunks, juice reserved
1 lb pork tenderloin or other tender cut, chopped into large bite-sized pieces

Pineapple Sauce:

1/4 cup coconut aminos
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar (rice vinegar would work, too)
1/4 cup pineapple juice
1 tbsp arrowroot powder (cornstarch would also be fine)
Sesame seeds and green onions for garnish

Instructions:

First, prepare the pork. Mix the sea salt, paprika, cayenne pepper and garlic powder in a small bowl and once the pork is cut up, open the paper it came wrapped in and spread it out on the counter. Arrange the pork in a single layer, sprinkle it with the rub then work it in work your hands. Once it's all mixed evenly, loosely wrap the paper and set it aside while you prepare the other ingredients (effective AND saves a dish). After all the vegetables are chopped, heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large skillet or wok. Once hot, adjust heat to medium high and add pork, tossing occasionally and working it around the pan to get a nice sear on all the pieces. Remove the pork from the pan with a slotted spoon and put into a bowl. Add remaining tablespoon oil to the pan quickly followed by the onions, peppers and celery. Reduce heat slightly and cook until the onions are translucent and you're just starting to see a few dark spots here and there. Add the garlic and ginger and continue stirring for 2-4 minutes. 

While this cooks, combine the coconut aminos, vinegar, pineapple juice and arrowroot in a small pyrex. Add the pork back to the pan and pour the sauce over. Stir to mix it all together then let it cook until the sauce has thickened slightly, about 7 minutes. Add the pineapple chunks, stir, then remove from heat. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onions to serve (or definitely do not if you have someone who will run from the table screaming at the sight of a bright green onion). Enjoy!