Sunday, August 1, 2010

Pork Tacos with Grilled Corn and Peach Salsa

It's been way too hot to cook these past several weeks in northern Virginia. With temperatures hitting 100, plus the humidity on top of that, who wants to turn on an oven or stand in front of a hot grill? Not me! But, the temps dropped to the 80s this week and it was time to fire up the grill and play with some iconic summer flavors (that don't involve hot dogs or hamburgers).
What was on the menu? Pork tacos with grilled corn and peach salsa. The inspiration came from July 2010 issue of Cooking Light, but I figured if I was going to turn on the grill, I was going to go whole hog with it (no pun intended). So, I changed up the inspiration recipe. The results were packed with flavor. Not only is this meal delicious, it is also affordable ($2.49/serving) and incredibly healthy.

Pork Tacos with Grilled Corn and Peach Salsa

Juice of one lime, divided
1 tbsp olive oil
1 1-pound pork tenderloin
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
1 garlic clove, minced
1 ear corn, shucked
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded
1 jalapeno, halved and seeded
1 peach, diced
Zest of 1 lime
Cooking spray
Flour tortillas
Feta cheese or queso fresco or queso blanco

1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
2. Combine 1 tbsp lime juice with olive oil in zip-top bag. Slice pork tenderloin into inch-thick slices and add to bag. Marinade for 10 minutes. Discard marinade. Season both sides of pork with salt, pepper, cumin and garlic.
3. Grill for 3-4 minutes per side or until desired doneness. Remove from grill, cover with foil and let rest for at least 5 minutes. Slice pork into thin strips.
4. While pork is grilling and resting, spray corn, red pepper and jalapeno with cooking spray. Grill until each item is moderately charred. Let corn rest for 5 minutes. Remove outer skin from jalapeno. Mince jalapeno and dice red pepper. Cut kernels from corn and add to pepper mixture. Add diced peach. Add lime zest and remaining juice from lime. Toss to coat.
5. Serve pork and salsa with tortillas and preferred cheese.

Substitution Suggestions: I confess, I cheated. Instead of starting from scratch with my pork, I used a pepper and garlici-marinated pork tenderloin. And, I'd do it again in a heartbeat. I washed off some of the peppery marinade before I sliced the loin and put it in the lime marinade. And, because I knew the pre-fab marinade had plenty of salt, pepper and garlic, I didn't add any extra. If you start with a blank slate, add the requisite spices. If you use a pre-marinated cut of meat (regardless of the flavor), whatever you do, omit the salt and rinse the meat before you marinade it! Pre-packaged marinates, especially in pork tenderloins, are loaded with salt.
The inspiration recipe called for nectarine, not peach. Either will work just fine. In fact, I'm sure strawberries would work well, too. The original recipe didn't call for grilling the salsa ingredients (except for the corn). As long as the grill was on, I thought, why not? It worked very well. The inspiration recipe also called for pork chops instead of tenderloin. I don't like chops -- never have -- so the loin suits me just fine.

Lessons Learned: The recipe really is straight-forward. Want more fiber? Add some shredded cabbage (like the original recipe recommended). Toss it in a little lime juice to meld the flavors. Want less fat? Swap out the flour tortillas for corn tortillas (also like the original recipe recommended). Want more texture in the salsa? Forgo grilling the red pepper and jalapeno. Don't eat pork? Use chicken or beef. It is highly adaptable.
I love the fresh taste of this meal. It epitomizes the tastes of summer without resorting to the plain ol' grilled burgers and dogs. I served it with grilled corn on the cob and smoky chipotle rice. For the rice, I prepared 1 cup of rice in a rice cooker (I added 2 cups of chicken stock instead of water for extra flavor). Then, I crumbled several strips of crispy bacon into it, added 1/2 tsp powdered chipotle (which was perhaps a tad too much), two splashes of lime juice and a 1/2 tbsp of bacon renderings. Talk about flavor!!