The Chili Spice Mix is the secret ingredient that makes this dish sing. It adds a lovely color and intense flavor to the pork bites. Also can be used on the table, to sprinkle at will. This paired with the pineapple, whose flavors have been enhanced by a complex rum and grilling. The decadence of the pineapple adds a sweet, juicy element to the lean pork. Your guests will be popping these in their mouths with joy!
MAKES ABOUT 50 BITES
MARINATE THE PINEAPPLE
6 oz Kracken rum
2 TB maple syrup
1 pineapple, cored and cut into 1-inch cubes
Gently heat rum and sugar to incorporate, about 2 min. Let cool. Marinate pineapple chunks in mix in the fridge.
MAKE THE CHILI SPICE MIX
Combines bitter annato seeds, some fiery aspects, and a touch of cinnamon. The flavors blend well with meats and could also work in some sweet dishes as well. To grind the spices, use a coffee grinder devoted to spice grinding, and be done in a jiffy.
Makes about 1/3 cup
1 TB annato seeds, crushed in spice grinder
1 TB pink peppercorns, crushed in spice grinder
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/4 CUP chili powder
1 TB onion salt
1 TB cinnamon
Use a mortar and pestle if you don’t have a spice grinder. Transfer crushed annato seeds and pink peppercorns to a bowl and mix everything together.
1 LB pork loin
Chili Spice Mix
Cut loin into 3/4 inch-thick fillets. Rub spice mix all over.
PREHEAT OVEN 350ºF… COOK THE PORK
Heat up a skillet. Sear meat, about 3 min on each side. Move to a baking dish. Cook about 8 min. Let meat rest 5 min.
1 TB honey
Baste pineapple chunks with honey. Sear on grill pan turning frequently.
cilantro, torn into individual leaves
grilled pineapple pieces
Sweet Hot Sauce (optional)
Cut pork into 1-inch cubes. Place sprig of cilantro on top of pineapple bit, spear with toothpick, then stick into a piece of pork. Drizzle Sweet Hot Sauce over it.
Put this trio of sauces and spices on your table, so guests can add extra flavor to suit their palate. From the top: Aji Criollo, Chili Spice Mix, Sweet Hot Sauce.
See these 3 sauce recipes—and more—for a hot and steamy Latin dance party in 07 A Latin Fiesta