I grew up in suburban Menlo Park, California. You wouldn’t know if from the tree-lined residential streets and quaint downtown, but my hometown’s the birthplace of Google, Round Table Pizza, and the psychedelic 60s. I lived a block away from what is now the first-ever Tesla Motors dealership; as a high schooler, I worked there as a file clerk when it was a Chevy showroom. (I got hit by a truck while sprinting across the street after work to watch Donahue. If only I’d owned a DVR in 1989, I would’ve skipped the ambulance ride to the hospital.)
Menlo Park is also home to the Connoisseur’s Marketplace, a difficult-to-spell mid-summer festival highlighting food, wine, music, and art. As kids, my sister and I would peer into each of the stalls, tug on our parents’ arms and beg to buy trinkets and snacks. “Too expensive,” they’d say.
“Can we at least buy a lemonade? It’s hot out!”
“No. We have lemons at home, and we live two blocks away.”
The one thing—the only thing—for which my mom and dad would gladly shell out their hard-earned bucks? Pork-a-bobs. We always made a beeline for the Filipino stand offering grilled swine slathered with a sticky-sweet barbecue glaze. I haven’t been back to the Connoisseur’s Marketplace in over twenty years (even though it’s just the next town over from Palo Alto), but I still think about those skewers.
This year’s Connoisseur’s Marketplace just took place last weekend. So when the fine folks over at U.S. Wellness Meats asked me to develop a new recipe for them, Pork-a-Bobs were the first thing to spring to mind.
My version incorporates sweet summer peaches in the smoky, fruity sauce, because I really don’t know of a better flavor combination than grilled pork and peaches. The pork is marinated in a simple, flavorful marinade, which means the sauce isn’t absolutely necessary. But I brush on the sauce after the pork’s off the grill (so it doesn’t burn) to give the meat an extra boost of flavor and to make it a fun, messy, lick-your-fingers treat.
Although I normally reserve pork shoulder for low and slow cooking preparations, it’s also fantastic cubed and grilled. This recipe keeps on giving because the pork reheats beautifully and the leftover sauce (which can be smeared on your favorite meats) will keep for up to a week in the fridge.
Here’s what to gather to make 8 hearty servings:
- 1 small red onion, roughly chopped
- ⅓ cup macadamia nut oil, avocado oil, olive oil, or melted ghee
- ⅓ cup coconut aminos
- 3 tablespoons of fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons apple juice
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- freshly ground pepper
- 3 pound pork shoulder roast, cut into 1½ inch cubes
- ½ cup diced fresh peach (optional, for garnish)
Spicy Peach BBQ Sauce
- 2 medium peaches (1 pound), halved and pitted
- ½ red onion, peeled and cut through the root end
- 2 tablespoons melted ghee
- 1 jalapeño pepper
- ½ cup coconut aminos
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 ½ tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- Freshly ground black pepper
Here’s how to make the pork kabobs:
First, make the marinade for the kabobs by blitzing together the onions, macadamia nut oil, coconut aminos, fish sauce, apple juice, tomato paste, garlic, and freshly ground black pepper in a high speed blender or food processor until smooth.
Grab your pork shoulder and cut it into uniform 1½-inch cubes.
Place the cubes in a large storage container and pour the marinade over the pork.
Make sure the pork is well-coated before covering the container and storing it in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 8 hours.
Next up: la barbecue sauce!
Heat your grill or grill pan to medium high. Cut your peaches in half and pry out the pits.
Brush the melted ghee on the cut surface of the peaches and onion. Place the peaches, onion, and pepper on the hot grill and leave ‘em there for a couple minutes per side…
…until you get nice grill marks all over.
Roughly chop the peaches and onion, and discard the stem end of the onion. Trim off the stem of the jalapeño and remove the seeds and ribs. (If you want a less-spicy sauce, just use part of the jalapeño instead of the whole thing.)
Toss the peaches, onion, jalapeño coconut aminos, tomato paste, rice wine vinegar, fish sauce, garlic, ginger, and a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper into a high speed blender or food processor.
Blitz until smooth.
Pour the sauce into a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.
Lower the temperature to medium low and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes or until slightly thickened. The sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Last step: grilling the skewers!
Heat the grill to medium high.
Thread five to six pieces of pork on each skewer. If you make lots of kabobs, you should invest in some flat metal skewers. Wooden skewers always burn no matter how long you soak them in water.
Grill the skewers for about 10 minutes…
…turning every couple of minutes…
…until cooked through.
Remove the kabobs from the grill and brush on the barbecue sauce.
Rest the pork for 5 to 10 minutes before digging in.
I added some diced peach to make ’em pretty.
Grab some napkins!