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Grilled deviled pork kebabs

August 21, 2010|By LYNNE ROSSETTO KASPER / Scripps Howard News Service

Dear Lynne: Grilled pork kebabs are cardboard even if brushed with oil. What can a girl do? --Grill Babe

Dear Grill Babe: She can do anything she likes once she's got these three concepts down:

1. Your meat's probably pork loin, which is so lean that cardboard is a shoo-in. Instead, try pork tenderloin (which cooks fairly quickly), or marbled pork butt or shoulder (which takes a little more time, but is succulent). No more cardboard.

2. Cook any meat at too high a heat and toughness can take over. So use medium heat for the tender tenderloin, and medium low for the chewier butt or shoulder.

3. This is the best edge you could have when cooking any kind of meat or fish. No matter the cut, always let cooked meat rest at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes before you serve it. The payback is extra-juicy and tender eating. You'll see that when you cut into the meat; it doesn't practically explode juices onto the plate the way it would if it were hot off the grill.

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GRILLED DEVILED PORK KEBABS

Serves 4 to 6

Serve with grilled onions, potato salad and garlicky coleslaw.

Our first time with these kebabs was lakeside in Wyoming's Big Horn mountains, where they slow-grilled over wood embers. Frankly, the meat could've been cardboard and we wouldn't have cared because the setting was pure postcard material. Turns out the meat was nearly as good. Wood charcoal stands in nicely for the wood; the setting is another issue.

Marinade and Baste:

1/2 cup good-tasting extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 teaspoons medium-hot ground pure chile, or to taste
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons soy sauce.

The Meat:

2 pounds pork tenderloin, or well-marbled pork butt or shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces

Table Dipping Sauce:

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar

In a plastic bag or medium bowl, blend the marinade ingredients. Set aside 1/3 of the mixture in a separate container and refrigerate. Add the meat to the rest, toss to coat, seal or cover and refrigerate overnight.

Bring the meat to room temperature before cooking. Soak about 16 bamboo skewers in water for a half hour. Prepare the grill with a two-zone fire and burners -- that is, about four layers of hot coals or a high heat on one side and a single layer of coals or lower heat on the other.

Drain the skewers. Remove the pork from the marinade, thread onto the skewers, and sprinkle with salt. Place on the grill rack and place over the high heat just to quickly sear. Push to the lower-heat side of the grill and cook slowly, with the grill lid down, about 6 to 8 minutes to the side. You want them to be at 150-160 degrees internal temperature.

Brush with the reserved marinade once the meat's done and tuck it over the high heat to glaze. Let the kebabs rest on a serving platter for 10 minutes before serving. Meanwhile, mix the table sauce and set out in individual bowls. Dipping the pork cubes in is the final seasoning.

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