John Brown has been a wine and food columnist in West Virginia since the 1980’s. His regular columns appear in the Charleston (WV) Gazette-Mail under the title Vines & Vittles and in The State Journal - a statewide business weekly
Pork Mojo with Vino
I know it’s weird to feel a sense of loss and to grieve for an inanimate object. Nonetheless, I nearly shed a tear when I felt compelled to euthanize my rusty old grill by burying it on Mount Trashmore – our local landfill.
However, on the way back from the malodorous burial mound, I stopped at the local hardware store and purchased a brand, spanking new Weber Performer Charcoal grill. I’ve been using Weber grills for decades because they can accommodate everything from burgers and steaks to large roasts and even 20 pound Thanksgiving turkeys. As soon as I got this shiny – but soon to be grimy- new grill assembled on my deck, I put it immediately to task. And, as it’s name so aptly suggests, the Weber “performed” flawlessly.
Today, I’m going to share a meat, vegetable and fruit recipe my wife concocted and I grilled to perfection on the new Weber. Of course, I’m also going to suggest a couple of special wines to pair with the meal that will greatly elevate this whole dining experience. And while I prefer to use charcoal, the following recipe can also be successfully prepared on a gas grill.
The origin of this dish is Cuba where a wide variety of foods are marinated in – or basted with – a sauce called “mojo” (pronounced “moe-ho” in Spanish). Here in the US, mojo is pronounced just the way it looks and it’s defined as a trait that involves a bit of magic or good luck. In the recipe that follows, you won’t need to use any mojo to make this exceptional “moho” dish.
Grilled Pork Mojo with Seared Avocados and Oranges
-One pork tenderloin (one to two pounds)
-Three garlic cloves peeled
-One medium red bell pepper diced
-One-half cup of freshly squeezed orange juice
-Two tablespoons of freshly squeezed lime juice
-One tablespoon each of kosher salt and ground cumin
-One-half teaspoon each of dried oregano, black pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper
-One teaspoon of neutral oil – like grape seed or canola
-Eight small red and yellow bell peppers or two large ones quartered
-One orange and two ripe avocados quartered; and one lemon sliced into 1/8 inch rounds
-One small bunch of green onions cleaned
Combine garlic, orange and lime juice, diced pepper, salt, cumin, black pepper, paprika and cayenne pepper in a blender
Process ingredients until smooth and pour into a large zip lock plastic bag
Place pork in the bag and marinate for 12 hours or overnight
Prepare a charcoal or gas grill
Remove pork from marinade and pat dry and rub with the neutral oil
Grill peppers, avocados, green onions, lemon and oranges until seared and put aside
Grill pork until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees F
Allow pork to rest for 10 minutes and then carve it into quarter inch thick slices
Place pork on a platter with avocados, oranges, peppers, lemon slices and onions around it
We accompanied the pork mojo with a side dish of spicy Cuban black beans and rice, and I opened two red wines to pair with the meal that worked exceptionally well. Both wines really enhanced the nuanced citrus notes in the grilled pork mojo. Give one, or both of these wines a try:
2010 Beronia Gran Riserva Rioja ($32) – One of the advantages of drinking Rioja is the ability of the wine to age well for a decade or more. This Spanish red is composed mainly of tempranillo and was aged in oak for three years before bottling. It is full of dark fruit flavors and just a touch of vanilla from the oak.
2016 Luigi Righetti Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico ($37) – From the Veneto region of northern Italy, this Amarone is chock full of bright cherry fruit with an undercurrent of mocha and spice. It is an exceptionally well made wine with the requisite acidity to balance the richness of the oak enhanced flavors.
So fire up the grill and try this recipe. You’ll find your Mojo with this Moho!
John Brown is also a novelist. His latest book is “Augie’s World” which is a sequel to his debut novel, Augie’s War. You can find out more about his novels at wordsbyjohnbrown.com