I’m more confident about grilling pork these days, now that the USDA says I don’t have to cook it past 145 degrees to stay safe. Under the former guideline, 160 degrees, I found there was too much danger of overcooking.
Here, I use 4-ounce medallions, which can be cut from a pork loin; or you can simply cut a large boneless chop in half. The medallions are marinated in a citrus-and-garlic combination that’s a classic Cuban blend. To balance the garlic, I pair the medallions with a cool cucumber salsa.
You can serve the pork warm or chilled. However, the flavors in the dish can grow too strong, so be sure to serve it the same day you marinate and cook it.
6 to 8 servings Ingredients For the pork:
Juice of 1 large lime Juice of 1 large orange
4 medium cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano 1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds pork loin cut into 1-inch-thick, 4-ounce medallions, trimmed of all fat and sinew
For the salsa: 8 ounces seedless, unwaxed cucumber, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1/2 large English cucumber, 3 to 4 small cucumbers, about 11/2 cups diced)
2 large oranges, peeled and sectioned, cut into a rough 1/4-inch dice
3 tablespoons finely chopped sweet onion or scallion
About 20 large mint leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil 1/4 teaspoon sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Steps Prepare the pork: Combine the lime and orange juices, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper in a resealable gallon-size food storage bag or a shallow dish. Add the pork and turn to coat thoroughly in the marinade. Seal the bag or cover the dish and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 12 hours, turning the bag or the pork once or twice to make sure the medallions are evenly coated with the marinade.
Prepare the salsa: Mix together the cucumber, oranges, onion or scallion, mint, oil, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste in a medium bowl. Serve right away, or refrigerate until ready to serve.
When ready to cook the pork, prepare the grill for direct heat. If using a gas grill, preheat to medium-high (450 degrees). If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal or wood briquettes; when the briquettes are ready, distribute them evenly under the cooking area. For a medium-hot fire, you should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals for 4 or 5 seconds. Lightly coat a grill rack with oil and place it on the grill.
Remove the pork from the marinade and transfer it to the grill; discard the marinade. Cover the grill and cook the pork on the first side for about 4 minutes; it should have good grill marks and be nicely colored. Turn the pork over and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until the internal temperature of the meat registers 145 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.
Remove the medallions from the grill and let them cool for 10 minutes. Slice them thinly and serve warm, with the cucumber-orange salsa spooned over. The pork and salsa also can be served chilled; for best flavor, serve them on the day they are prepared.