Pepper-Crusted Pork Loin with Sweet Heat Sauce

Sweet heat is a wonderful flavor effect. The sweetness in the sauce balances of an otherwise over-the-top degree of pepper heat in the dish, thereby resulting in a greatly heightened flavor. The Chinese have known about this for years; we’re just learning it. You can use either pork tenderloin or pork rib loin for this dish. The latter is better if you’re using the outdoor grill.

I will always associate this dish with Hurricane Katrina. I made it up the weekend before the storm hit. Then, while my family and I were evacuated to the home of our niece Jennifer Donner in Atlanta, I cooked it again.

Pork tenderlion with sweet heat sauce.

Pork tenderlion with sweet heat sauce.

  • 1 pork loin, 10-12 inches long, trimmed of fat and silverskin
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup coarsely ground black pepper
  • Salt
  • Sauce:
  • 1/4 cup fig preserves
  • 1/4 cup orange marmalade
  • (Or substitute other kinds of jellies or preserves)
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 2 Tbs. steak sauce
  • 1 Tbs. Tabasco soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

1. If cooking outside, build a fire with some wood chips or other smoking fuel in the pit. If cooking indoors, preheat the broiler and pan with the pan six inches from the heat.

2. If using the rib loin, cut it from end to end into two pieces of the same size. Pour the soy sauce over the loins and coat them all over. Sprinkle on a bit of salt and pepper. The pepper should create a distinct crust.

3. Place the loins right over the fire in the grill and cook, turning every few minutes, until cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees. This may leave a blush of pink in the center, but that is well past the safety point for pork.

If using the oven, place the loins under the broiler and broil, turning once, for 10 minutes, until the exterior is well browned. Lower the heat to 275 and continue to cook until the interior temperature reaches 160 degrees on a meat thermometer.

4. Slice the pork loins about a half-inch thick. If using tenderloin, slice it on the bias.

5. Combine all the sauce ingredients in a saucepan and heat through. Reduce the sauce a little if you think it’s too thin.

Serves eight to ten.

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