Saturday, November 16, 2013

Not Slow Cooker Pineapple Teriyaki Pork

This Thursday I wanted to get back to something I really enjoy and post a solid recipe for Teriyaki Pork (chicken works too) with pineapple.

Before I start I want to note that the original inspiration I had for this was a slow cooker recipe, but here's the thing with cooking meat and sauce in a slow cooker:   Almost everything comes out watery and looking like shapeless grey alien meat.   Don't get me wrong, I love my slow cooker and love using it to "cheat" by making dinner at 10 a.m. and then being able to forget about it all day.  But when it comes to making things in the slow cooker, the food isn't bad, but it could almost always be better if you used a different cooking method instead.  There are exceptions (like some stews) but as a general rule, if you're not satisfied with a slow cooker recipe, sometimes all it takes to get it right is modifying the recipe to cook in the oven or on the stove top instead.

With that in mind:

Teriyaki Pork with Pineapple


2 pounds boneless pork or chicken
1 large can diced pineapple, with juice
1 large onion
1 red or green pepper
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 cup rice (optional)

I recommend serving this dish over rice, so I begin cooking by starting the rice.  I love our rice cooker, but it does take a long time to cook.

Start by cooking the pork by whatever means you find convenient - this time around I did it in a pan on the stove top, but in the oven (40 minutes at 350 degrees, covered, with just a little water in the bottom of the dish to keep it from drying out or burning) probably works even better and results in pork that isn't as tough.

While the pork is cooking, cut up the onions and the pepper.  My preference for this recipe is to cut them into fairly large chunks, instead of dicing.  You can substitute or add any vegetables you like here, although I suggest sticking to stuff that has a nice crunch to it - snap peas and broccoli are both good.

Drain the pineapple and add the juice to a medium to large pot.  This process should yield about a cup of pineapple juice.  If it's more, don't worry about it and just add it all.  If it's less, you may have to add a little bit of water to make up the difference.  Set the diced pineapple aside.

When the pork is finished cooking, chop it up into bit sized pieces.

Add the brown sugar and soy sauce to the pineapple juice and bring to a slow boil, stirring often.  Add  just enough water to the corn starch to get it to dissolve fully, then add it to the soy-pineapple mixture.  This will get the liquid to thicken to to a good sauce consistency.  If you're impatient or it doesn't seem to be working, add a bit more cornstartch (but always dissolve the cornstarch in water first, it's much easier than dealing with chalky clumps of cornstarch in boiling liquid!), but err on the side of patience if you can, as you want to avoid adding any more cornstarch than you need to while still getting a nice, thick sauce.

Stir often - don't walk away - and reduce the heat if necessary if it seems like it's burning to the bottom of the pan.  After it boils for a few minutes the sauce will start to thicken.  Once this happens, add the pork, pineapple, onions, and peppers and mix well.  Heat for just a few minutes - we still want the veggies crunchy and closer to raw than cooked - and serve over rice.

First final thought:  I really liked the way this turned out.  It can easily be modified to fit different tastes as well - kick things up with a bit of garlic or ginger in the sauce, or if you like it hot, crushed red pepper flakes.

Second final thought:  I really need to invest in a camera, because cooking entries look really weird without the finished prepared plate money shot.

Pictured:  Not actually my pineapple pork.  But it's pretty close. 

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