Monday, February 25, 2013

Sweet and Sour Pork

I remember going to my grandma's house every year for my mom's birthday and drooling over a giant turkey platter piled full of homemade sweet and sour pork.  Bite sizes of crispy pork and chunks of luscious pineapple swimming in a golden sauce that was perfectly sweet yet perfectly sour.  I always looked forward to mom's birthday dinner, so I could eat some of my favorite foods!  

When you have to change your eating due to food allergies, it's not like being on a diet.  You can't have your once a year/month/week binge and make up for it by working out extra hard at the gym or having lettuce for dinner.  If you have your binge, you are left with consequences far greater than an extra pound on the scale. You can become violently ill or break out in a rash, or even worse, suffer an anaphylaxis reaction.  Often times, the reaction you have to the offending food can last much longer than your initial reaction, lasting for days, weeks, or even months, leaving you suffering with headaches, body aches, digestive issues, and countless other issues.  For me, if I eat foods with gluten, I wake up the next morning feeling like I am extremely hungover.  I'm tired, nauseous, irritable, and achy.  Each time I eat gluten, it leaves me wanting more gluten, starting that entire cycle all over.  

It can be frustrating to try to convert your favorite family recipes to a gluten-free version.  The flours generally don't work on their own, the suggested make-your-own kinds can be costly, and the pre-made "cup-for-cup" all-purpose flours just don't always seem to work out in your favorite cake or cookie recipe.   Plus, many of those pre-made blends have other ingredients I can't, shouldn't, or won't eat.  Luckily, this recipe only calls for a small amount of flour, and I found substituting with a gluten-free all-purpose flour that worked just fine. As always, make sure that all ingredients are free of any allergens you need to avoid.

I think the key to this recipe is frying the pork twice to achieve that truly cripsy batter.  It's a little bit of extra time, but totally worth it! 

Since this is a special occasion dish for us, and it's usually made for a family get-together, I tend to double or quadruple the recipe.

Gluten Free Sweet and Sour Pork

1 lb pork tenderloin, visible fat trimmed, cut into 1" cubes
Your favorite high-heat oil for frying

1 egg
1 tsp salt
1/2 c. organic cornstarch
1/4 c. gluten-free all purpose flour (I'm really liking this brand right now)
1/4 c. chicken broth
1 tsp. grated ginger (fresh or powdered)

1 tbl. organic corn starch mixed with 1tbl. water till smooth
1 8oz. can chunk pineapple in 100% juice (not syrup)
1 TBL gluten free soy sauce/liquid aminos/coconut aminos
5 tbl rice vinegar (not seasoned)
5 tbl organic sugar
1/2 bell pepper, cut in small chunks

Preheat oven to 250*.  Set aside an oven safe shallow dish (like a jelly roll pan) lined with a  couple paper towels. 

Heat a dutch oven or deep heavy skillet to 350* with approximately 2" of oil. 

Mix together egg, salt, cornstarch, flour, chicken broth, and ginger until batter is smooth. I like to use the blender for this.  Place cut up pork in a large bowl and pour batter over the pork.  Make sure to coat each piece of pork completely with batter. 

Working quickly, carefully place pork, one piece at a time, into hot oil with tongs and dry to a light golden brown, about 3-5 minutes.  Work in batches and be sure not to crowd the pork, or it will clump together and the yummy batter will fall off.  When you take your first pieces of pork out of the oil.  Place them on the oven safe baking dish layered with paper towels.  Place the baking dish in the preheated oven, adding each batch of pork until you are finished frying all the pork.  Leave in the oven until a few minutes before serving.

Use a candy thermometer to make sure your oil is the proper temperature.
In a medium sized saucepan, mix together cornstarch water mixture, vinegar, and soy sauce.  Add the juice from the can of pineapple into the sauce pan as well, reserving the pineapple chunks.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Add pineapple and cook for one minute.  Reduce heat to low and simmer until ready to serve.

Sauce waiting to meet the crispy pork
While the sauce is cooking, reheat the oil back to 350*.  Add the pork back to the oil and fry once more until a medium golden brown and it's extra crispy.  If you need to fry in batches, make sure to keep the pork in the oven so it doesn't get cold and soggy.

Place twice fried pork in a large serving dish.  Pour sauce over the top.  Serve immediately.   

So much yummy goodness, you won't want to share! 

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