Although it’s hard to define what ‘proper’ American cooking is, I’ve been inspired by the food from the Deep South, where there is an incredible amount of smoking, salting, barbecuing and spit-roasting going on – really intelligent cooking. This is a recipe inspired by the kinds of flavours I tasted when I was in Texas.
Skewers are useful for this recipe. They hold the four fillets together, making it easier to turn over when on the barbecue or under the grill. It also makes serving slightly easier because when you come to slice the fillets up, you can do it between the skewers, giving you pork ‘lollipops’ of blackened meat, which is quite fun. But if you don’t have them, you can just use your tongs.
When you’ve made this once, I guarantee you’ll make it at least once a year as it’s so damn good. Great with salad, spiced beans, corn on the cob or rice.
Yield: Serves 8
For the marinade:
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 heaped tablespoon sweet smoked paprika
Zest and juice of 1 orange
A small bunch of fresh thyme, leaves picked and very finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and very finely chopped
150ml/5 ½ fl oz Heinz organic tomato ketchup
6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 x 400g/14oz pork fillets, preferably free-range or organic
Freshly ground black pepper
Optional: a handful of fresh coriander, leaves picked and chopped
Optional: juice of 1 lemon
To make your marinade, crush up the cumin, fennel seeds and cloves in a pestle and mortar and mix with the paprika, orange zest and juice, thyme, garlic, ketchup and balsamic vinegar. Season the pork fillets with salt and pepper, then toss them in most of the marinade until completely coated. Feel free to marinate for half a day, but at least an hour. If you have metal or wooden skewers, lay the fillets side by side and skewer them together about 2.5cm/1 inch apart.
When you’re ready to cook, simply put the meat on to a barbecue or under a hot grill for 15 to 20 minutes or until nicely charred. Every time you turn the meat, brush it generously with the leftover marinade so you build up a sticky, blackened glaze. When they’re done, put the fillets on a big platter and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Slice the meat between the skewers, or just slice each fillet in half, and sprinkle over some chopped coriander or squeeze over some lemon juice if you fancy.
Matt’s wine suggestion: American white – Viognier, or maybe even a cold beer