Some people daydream about sandy beaches or trips to Venice. I daydream about recipes.
Recently I was daydreaming about a chicken dish my mother made when I was a child. Chicken pieces were baked with orange soda. She doesn't remember the recipe, but I remember the dish. It was one of my favorites.
Then I pulled out a cookbook and found a barbecued chicken baked with Coca-Cola and ketchup. I began to wonder what other recipes could be created using a can of soda. After much daydreaming and a bit of experimenting, I came up with today's recipe for ginger ale pork tenderloin.
Using ginger ale in a marinade has many benefits. First, you get bold ginger flavor without grating fresh ginger. The carbonation also makes the ginger ale a great meat tenderizer.
A cup of ginger ale is combined with soy sauce, garlic powder, dry mustard, black pepper, brown sugar and a bit of hot sauce for a delicious, alcohol-free marinade. The mixture is squeezed together in a zip-top plastic bag, and pork tenderloins are added for a long soak.
The longer the tenderloins marinate, the more tender and flavorful they'll be. I mixed up the marinade and added the pork before heading off to bed one evening, then prepared a great grilled dinner the next.
Removing the silver skin (the membrane that appears on the outside of each tenderloin) is an essential step. If left on, the membrane becomes chewy when cooked and causes the tenderloin to curl. If you want to avoid this step, consider substituting pork chops or boneless, skinless chicken breasts.
Grilling a perfect pork tenderloin can be a bit tricky. A hot fire is essential for browning the outside perfectly, but a low fire or indirect heat is best to cook them completely.
On a charcoal grill, begin cooking the tenderloin uncovered over the hottest part of the fire, turning the tenderloins every two to three minutes so they brown evenly on all sides. Then move the tenderloins to a cooler part of the grill, cover, and finish cooking - about three minutes more for medium or 145 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.
Keep the grill top down when cooking on gas, lifting the lid and turning the tenderloins every three minutes, for a total cook time of about 15 minutes.
Serve the tenderloins with your favorite packaged rice mix and a green vegetable for a great meal.
1 cup ginger ale
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 to 5 dashes Tabasco sauce
2 pork tenderloins, 1 1/2 to 2 pounds total, well trimmed
Place marinade ingredients in a zip-top plastic bag. Squeeze to combine.
Add pork tenderloins and marinate several hours or overnight.
Heat grill to high. Place tenderloins over hottest part of grill and cook, turning every 2 to 3 minutes. Move to cooler part of grill, cover with lid and cook an additional 3 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees for medium or 160 degrees for well done.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Karin Calloway is a Web chef for Viking Range Corp. (www.vikingrange.com) and a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. You can write her in care of Newsroom, The Augusta Chronicle, P.O. Box 1928, Augusta, GA 30913. Or send e-mail to email@example.com.