Whoopee! It’s one of my favorite times of the year in Colorado! It’s late summer which means the PEACHES ARE HERE! I know it’s the last thing that you think about when you think of Colorado but our farmers grow some of the best peaches in the country (sorry Georgia). Something about the hot days and cool nights on the Western Plains that make them large, beautiful and super flavorful. Who knows what it is, all I know is that I only like peaches for about three weeks a year. We are in the midst of it now and what’s even better, I haven’t even received the two cases that I ordered yet! I can’t wait to make my yearly batch of jam so that I can enjoy them all year long!
Since it is peach season, I decided to make a peach salsa and what goes better with peaches than pork. I love the combination and decided it would be something tasty to make this week. I also know that peaches work well with the Southwest flavors that I enjoy cooking with so I came up with this Southwest Beer Brined Pork and Peach Salsa. I love brining pork. It really makes the boring dried out pork chop tasty and tender, especially when grilled. Of course, as you have all gotten to know me, I like cooking with alcohol. With brining, the meat takes on the flavors that you marinate it in. The beer flavor kinda tones down the spiciness in the marinade and in the salsa. For some reason, it just works. This will be one of my new “go to” meals that I prepare, especially for company. It’s so colorful that you wouldn’t even have to put flowers on the table! LOL!
From the Western slope to the Eastern plains of Colorado.. Word on the street this week was that the sunflowers were in full bloom and absolutely stunning. I remember my first sunflower experience twenty six years ago this month when I moved to Colorado. I reminisced and thought how cool it was that I was moving to a state with “happy” flowers greeting me as I arrived. That’s what sunflowers are to me. Happy fields of big beautiful flowers with a personality all their own. Since my first step in Colorado, I have always had a fascination with them and decided that it was time to go and see them first hand again. Lucky me the drive was just a little East of the airport and oddly enough just right off I-70. I went and stood in a couple hundred acre field of sunflowers to take pictures. Wow! It was just breathtaking. It seemed as though the flowers had something to say. I know that’s strange but until you stand in a field of them, you won’t understand!
While I was in my “happy” place, a couple of farmers approached me and gave me the low down on sunflowers. I’ll put this in the “you learn something new everyday” category. Colorado sunflowers are grown to make oil whereas Kansas sunflowers are a larger variety and are grown for seeds. The sunflowers are actually a “dry crop”, meaning no irrigation is needed to grow them. I found this fascinating as it seems like a perfect crop for our hot, dry climate. A dry crop is also good for a farmers wallet.. no water equals minimal expense, so it’s essentially a cash crop! Finally, sunflowers are all perky in the morning and begin to flop over by the end of the day. It has something to do with the energy that they receive from the sun and when they have enough for the day, they put their head down. It’s kinda like an afternoon nap! Sounds like a good thing to me! Take me advice… if you are ever driving down a highway and see sunflowers, pull over and stand in the field of beauty. It may not change your life but it will certainly put a smile on your face!
For the pork
- 1½- 2 pounds of pork loin chops or tenderloin
- 3 cups water
- 1 lager beer (I used a Modelo)
- ¼ cup salt
- ¼ cup honey
- ½ cup pineapple juice
- ¼ cup Chipotle chili in adobo sauce (about 2-3 chopped chipotle with the adobo sauce from can)
- 4 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp chili powder
- zest and juice from 1 lime
- 3 cups ice
For the peach salsa
- 4 peaches, seed removed and diced
- ¼-1/2 cup red onion, diced small (depending on how much you like)
- 1 red pepper, diced small
- 1 jalapeno, seeds removed and diced small
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped fine
- zest and juice from 1 lime
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder
- For the brine, in a stock pot, add the water, beer, salt, honey, pineapple juice, Chipotle, garlic, cumin, chili powder, lime zest and juice. Heat until the salt is dissolved and remove from stove. Add the ice cubes to chill it down. Either transfer to a zip lock bag or use same container and put in the pork. Refrigerate overnight until ready to grill.
- For the salsa, in a large bowl, add the peaches, onions, red pepper, jalapeno, cilantro, lime zest and juice, salt, pepper, cumin and chili powder. Combine well. Best to make this right before serving.
- Heat up the grill to a medium high heat. Grill the pork to an internal temperature of 145 degrees (perfect medium rare) or 160 degrees (medium). Timing on this will depend on your grill and if you decide on chops or a tenderloin. I made chops this time and it took about 25 minutes. When done, let the meat sit for 10 minutes before serving.
- Serve the pork with a big spoonful of the peach salsa.