Tequila and Lime Marinated Pork Kebabs

Hey—look what the neighbors are grilling! Burgers are always a favorite, but the other day when my husband was cooking our little discs of ground beef above the flames, I noticed the neighbors bringing out colorful kebabs to their grill. Hmm. A little entrée envy set in. We should do that more, I said.

Well, bring on the neighbor’s entrée envy with this flavorful pork recipe by meat guru Bruce Aidells (which appeared in Real Food). The author of The Great Meat Cookbook knows a thing or two about the subject.

Tequila and lime are not only a great combination in the classic Margarita cocktail, but the flavors marry beautifully with pork as well. This recipe uses the budget-friendly Boston butt (pork shoulder), which has great flavor and ample fat to be juicy even if overcooked a bit, notes Bruce. Instead of buying a whole pork shoulder, you can purchase boneless country ribs, which are simply strips cut from the Boston butt. If you can’t find a firm, fresh pineapple, leave it out. Serve kebabs with some roasted sweet potatoes and cheesy grits. (Note: Plan ahead—overnight marinating of the pork is recommended.)

A pitcher of Margaritas would be a tasty complement to this meal. If you’re looking to serve cold brew, classic Corona with little limes cut and ready to stuff into the bottlenecks is a good option, or try an American pale lager like Michigan’s Bell’s Lager, Oregon’s Full Sail Pale Ale, or Goose Island’s Summertime Ale.

Tequila and Lime Marinated Pork Kebabs

Makes 8 servings

Tequila Lime Marinade
5 tbsp. fresh lime juice
2 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. grated lime zest
3 tbsp. tequila
1 tbsp. agave syrup (or honey)
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. ground cumin
¼ tsp. allspice
2 tsp. fresh oregano, chopped
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2½ lbs. Boston butt or boneless country ribs, trimmed of fat and cut into 1½-inch chunks
1 sweet red onion, cut into 1½-inch squares
1 fresh pineapple, cut into 1½-inch cubes (optional)
2 green bell peppers, cut into 1-inch squares

Whisk marinade ingredients together in a small bowl. Place pork in a large zipper-lock bag and pour over marinade. Shake bag to ensure all pork pieces get coated. Lay in a pan or bowl (in case bag leaks) and refrigerate overnight, turning over from time to time to redistribute the marinade.

The next day, prepare a gas or charcoal grill for a medium-high fire. Remove pork from marinade and set aside. Pour marinade into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil 1 minute and set aside.

Create kebabs by threading on a pork cube, onion, optional pineapple, green pepper, another piece of onion, and another pork cube. Continue this pattern until skewers are full and all ingredients are gone. If you have extra vegetables and pineapple, skewer on their own. (Or, as an option, skewer the meat on its own as well as each vegetable and pineapple on its own.)

Brush all skewers with marinade and lay over fire. Grill 2 minutes with grill lid down, then turn kebabs, brush again with marinade, and continue to turn and brush every 2 minutes. If flaming occurs, move to a cooler part of grill until flames subside. Kebabs will be ready in 8 to 10 minutes; the meat should be nicely browned and the onions and peppers softened with their edges just beginning to brown. Cut into one or two pieces of meat to taste. The interior should be faintly pink and nice and juicy. Remove skewers from heat as they finish cooking, brush one more time with marinade, and place on a warm platter. Cover finished kebabs loosely with foil. When all kebabs are done, let rest 5 minutes, then remove all the goodies from the skewers, mound on a deep platter, and serve.

Nutrition info (per serving): CALORIES 294 (172 from fat); FAT 19g (sat. 6g); CHOL 80mg; SODIUM 459mg; CARB 4g; FIBER 1g; PROTEIN 25g

Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine, and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.