Memorial Day Grilling: Soda Pop Pork

May 29, 2016

Happy Memorial day weekend, Readers!

I got the hard part of the weekend out of the way Friday, with the upper GI scope and biopsy, which I’m happy to file away as “done.” Honestly, though, it wasn’t bad. You’re out cold for the thing, and besides the indignity of having a Hannibal Lecter-esque mouth guard thingy in your face and a mildly sore throat afterwards, it’s not a big deal.

Good news is, they didn’t see any tumors and I’ll have biopsy results probably at the end of the week. They did say that my esophagus looked like “hamburger,” but when you’ve been throwing up every 3-4 days for months, what do you expect?

With that behind me, the fun can start! My dear friend Annie and her husband are visiting from South Dakota, and it’ll be great to get into some mischief. Our friendship began not long after I started my blog. I didn’t know anything about blogging (like, at all) when I began this whole business, and at first, I spent hours looking at other food blogs and photography blogs, trying to find my bearings and learn some things. (alas, still suck at photography but I am a lazy slob and people have tried.)

One of the first blogs I stumbled on, and commented on, was Annie’s. Gorgeous recipes, gorgeous photography, intimidating talent. But I commented and reached out to her, and then she responded, and then I annoyed her with a bazillion questions about blogging and photography, but she was kind. So, so kind.

We became friends. Close ones.

Seems a little crazy to bond with someone over the computer, but with Annie, I just knew she was a kindred soul. It was the person, the voice, the entity beyond the blog that made me think: “I really want to know that person. If she will have me and not think I’m some crazy whackjob.”

Annie is not the only friend I’ve made via the Internet, but she’s one of my most cherished. We roomed together at our first BlogHer (I cried a lot that weekend. She did not.) She has visited several times, has endured many indignities from my girls when they were small, and now we’re going on 8 years. With a friend you met and love via Internet. I know there’s lots of horrible stuff that can happen to you when you put yourself out there in print, press send, and wait. I know that. But I’ve made several true-blue soul sisters that way, too. Sisters that you didn’t expect, but damn, it’s a lucky happenstance.

We’re excited for the My Morning Jacket concert at Red Rocks on Sunday (ahem. Undeniably the best venue to hear music in the US of A–I stand by my bias.) We will cook together, and laugh, and maybe cry a little, too. She’s been there through ShitApril and CrapMay and everything in between.

Alas, it may rain on us at the concert, but that’s what ponchos and 7 dollar beers are for, right?

With the weather being a little unsettled, we probably won’t fire up the grill much this weekend, but if the weather’s balmy in your neck of the woods, consider busting out the tongs and making this awesome pork recipe.

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.  When I saw this recipe a few years ago, my interest was doubly piqued 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 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.

Spring may be dragging her heels over here, but I can’t wait until I can make this again. Put this on your list of summer must-do’s.

I hope you all are having a wonderful kickoff to summer and spending the weekend with people who bring you joy. I sure feel lucky to be doing so.



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


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


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.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Dawn in MI May 30, 2016 at 4:43 am

Hope you are having a great long weekend. This recipe looks wonderful. I’ve put it on my list of ‘must do’ things to make. Soon.

I, too, have made some really good friends in the blogging world. Who knew!? A few I’ve even met. Certainly there are quality people out there reading our stuff, as we read theirs. It’s a wonderful world.

Hope the medical results come back with some answers, none of which are scary.


Annie May 30, 2016 at 12:17 pm

We had such an awesome time hanging with you and the family this weekend. It was a terrific mix of chill time and outrageous laughter and fun. Love you all so so much.


Sherri June 1, 2016 at 3:33 am

I might try this. Have seen similar recipes that end up really good, right? Glad to hear your dad is doing well. And…. have gone through the whole upper GI mess myself many times. Stomach still not right :) – but better than it used to be. Hope you get answers / feel better soon.


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