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Pork & Pineapple Skewers

I'm thankful that where I live grilling season is all year long. I know first hand that's not the case for most Canadians. Growing up in Ottawa our barbeque spent the winter buried under several feet of snow, and the kicker was we could see that from the kitchen table. There were two main signs of spring growing up. The first was the neighbourhood kids peddling their bikes along slushy sidewalks with their winter coats tied around their waists. The second was the smell of grilled meat in the air. To this day when I catch the smell of flaming meat wafting over the fence it's about freedom, baby. Freedom to leave the house without boots, freedom to visit a park, and freedom to hang out in the back yard again (while ignoring those piles of snow in the shade that lasted into mid-April). Yes, I'm thankful for mild winters here on Vancouver Island and grilling whenever.

These pork and pineapple skewers are an easy weeknight grilled supper. Cubes of pork loin chops are marinated in the morning or the night before and are quickly skewered with chunks of sweet pineapple, red pepper and red onion right before going on the grill. The marinating liquid - pineapple juice, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil - is then brought to a boil in a small saucepan and turned into a fantastic sauce to pour over the skewers right before serving.

Fruity. Fun. Freedom.

Pork & Pineapple Skewers
Makes 12 skewers

1 1/2 lb (675 g) boneless pork loin chops, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 can (398 mL/14 fl oz) pineapple chunks
1/4 cup (60 mL) soy sauce
1 tbsp (15 mL) rice vinegar
1/4 tsp (1 mL) sesame oil
12 wood or metal skewers
1 red bell pepper, seeds and stem removed, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 small red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tbsp (15 mL) cornstarch
1 green onion, chopped (optional)
1 tsp (5 mL) sesame seeds (optional)

Put the pieces of pork in a medium mixing bowl. Open the can of pineapple and pour the juice over the pork (set aside the pineapple chunks in the fridge for later). To complete the marinade, pour the soy sauce, rice vinegar and sesame oil into the mixing bowl with the pork. Cover and leave it to marinate in the fridge for at least a few hours (or overnight - the longer the better). At the same time, if using wood skewers, leave them in water to soak. 

Preheat the grill to medium-low (about 375° F/190° C). On each skewer, slide a piece of pork, a piece of red pepper, a piece of onion, a chunk of pineapple and repeat, finishing each skewer with a third piece of pork. Reserve the marinade. Grill the skewers for 5 minutes, then flip and cook another 5 to 7 minutes until the pork is cooked through. Transfer to a serving plate.

Pour a small amount of the reserved marinade (about 2 tbsp/30 mL) into a small bowl. Pour the rest of the marinade into a small saucepan. Bring it to a boil over high heat, allowing it to bubble away for a couple minutes, stirring frequently. Stir the cornstarch into the cold marinade in the small bowl until the lumps disappear. Pour this mixture into the boiling marinade and allow it to boil for another 60 seconds to thicken. Pour this sauce over the skewers and sprinkle with the chopped green onion and sesame seeds, if using.

Can you grill year-round where you live? What's the first thing you like to get on the grill in the spring?