Dr. Pepper Pork-and a winner

May 20, 2011

Is it just me, or does everyone who hears the words, “cooking with soda pop,” immediately think of the South?

The old 7-up cake–so good and so wrong at the same time.  Coca-cola barbecue sauce.  Mr. Pibb-basted pot roast.  Southern delicacies, all.

Me? I’d never think to cook with soda pop.  Maybe I’m scarred by all that hot Dr. Pepper I drank at North Dakota hockey games; the idea of adding soda to my food just seems wrong. Plus, soda is laced with high-fructose corn syrup, and aren’t we Americans fat enough? Do we really need to inject HFC into our food?

But also, because I’m some kind of weirdo masochist, whenever I see a recipe that just seems kinda wrong, I have to try it.  My interest was doubly piqued this time because my husband loathes–absolutely loathes–Dr. Pepper.  Remember those charming commercials where the cute guy in suspenders dances around, urging us to “Be a Pepper/drink Dr. Pepper?”  My husband wasn’t even tempted after watching those little slices of entertainment.  Okay, I’ll amend that statement. He was tempted once. And then immediately declared Dr. Pepper the nastiest shit on the planet.

I just couldn’t resist.  The original recipe, courtesy of Jamie Purviance, was just too dang odd to pass up.  And frankly, Jamie Purviance’s cookbook, weber’s Way to Grill, has become sort of my warm-weather bible. Not one thing I’ve made from his cookbook has turned out anything less than swoon-worthy.  And I mean swoon. Mr. JP knows his way around the grill, ladies and gents.

I had to tinker around with the recipe, because the original calls for pork loin, and our family–even with the addition of Mama and Daddy for Sunday lunch–just isn’t big enough for a pork roast.  We’d be oinking around for the rest of the week if I made a whole loin of pork.

My solution was to use pork tenderloin instead. I felt good about this substitution, because in addition to the waste issue, pork tenderloin is a lean, fighting, protein machine.  If I used the tenderloin, I could baste it in Dr. Pepper sauce and still feel just fine about it.

Pork tenderloin cooks fast, so I knew I’d have to adapt the recipe even further, since the original calls for the pork to cook in the sauce and self-baste.  I didn’t think that would work with tenderloin,  so I cooked the sauce on the stove and basted the pork just after grilling, then tented the whole shebang with foil for 8-10 minutes.  After slicing the pork into medallions, I dumped them back into the Dr. Pepper bath, tossed a few times, and served.

Hel-lo Pepper People!  This is hot-dang good.  The sauce is complex, smoky, sweet-spicy, and truly a lovely complement to pork.  everybody (with the exception of Miss M., who eats nothing)  liked the sauce, although I added more spice to the “adult-sauce” pot.

We had such a great Sunday, eating our funky soda pop pork, lamenting the rainy weather, and playing a few raucous games of WhoNuu? with the girls.  Spring may be dragging her heels over here, but as long as we’re all together, eating good things and telling tall tales*, we’re happy with the universe.

Dr. Pepper Pork

serves 4-6

adapted from Jamie Purviance’s Soda-Brined Pork Loin with Cherry-Chipotle Glaze from weber’s Way to Grill

Brine:

4 cups Dr. Pepper (don’t use the diet kind or you’ll be sad)

1/2 cup kosher salt

2 pork tenderloins (each about 1 pound), trimmed of silver skin

Sauce:

1 jar (6-ounces) tart cherry preserves

1/2 cup Dr. Pepper

1/2 cup beer or water

1-2 tablespoons minced canned chipotle chile in adobo

4 teaspoons Dijon mustard

dash garlic salt and black pepper

For brine: In a very large bowl, pour the Dr. Pepper in. Slowly add the salt; it will foam up quite a bit. Whisk until the salt completely dissolves. Remove the fat and silver skin from the pork. Place brine in a large Ziploc bag and add pork. Seal and refrigerate at least 2 hours (I marinated mine overnight).

Combine glaze ingredients in a heavy medium saucepan and whisk well. Bring to a boil over medium heat and reduce until glaze is thickened, about 10 minutes. If mixture gets too thick, add a little water. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat grill to medium. Pat tenderloins dry. Grill over direct medium heat, lid closed, 15-20 minutes, turning the tenderloins every 5 minutes.  Pork should be at 150 degrees on a meat thermometer before taking off the grill.

Brush the pork with a little glaze and tent the pork with foil; let rest at least 8 minutes. Slice into pork into medallions and toss with remaining glaze.

**Well, maybe we weren’t all telling tall tales, but some of us were. Have you guys heard of chitchat cards? It’s this deck of cards with questions, meant to spark dinner table conversation. We don’t need the cards; Miss D. would be happy to Bogart the entire afternoon discourse, but this way, we all get to share things and laugh and hey! the girls will sit still for more than five minutes. Win-win. Plus, then the girls get to hear the story of Wild Uncle Johnny and the toy farm…but that’s for another time.

~~Winner, winner, Chicken Dinner! (okay, who the Hell coined that phrase? It’s weird.) Bruce of Privilege of Parenting won a copy of my friend Linda’s book! Bruce, shoot me your address and you are in for a great treat. Thanks to all of you who commented and came out in support of Linda, who is an amazing writer and human being. I am honored to know her. I’m reading her book with a pencil in hand–does anyone else do that?–and marking my favorite parts. It’s kinda heavily marked already. :)

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