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Mediterranean Grilled Pork, Chicken or Turkey with Tomato-Olive Salsa

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Serves 6

The fragrant fennel-paprika rub and the briny cherry tomato salsa evoke the cuisines of Italy.

For the spice rub:
  • 2 tsp. dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. crushed or chopped fennel seeds
  • 1-1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
  • 1-1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
For the salsa:
  • 2 scant cups cherry (or grape) tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 small red onion, cut into small dice (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped pimento-stuffed green olives
  • 2 Tbs. drained capers
  • 2 Tbs. torn fresh basil leaves
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice; more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 boneless pork loin chops, about 3/4 inch thick; OR 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, tenderloins removed, breasts pounded lightly to about 3/4 inch thick; OR 6 turkey breast cutlets
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. canola or vegetable oil

In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar, fennel seeds, paprika, garlic powder, pepper, and salt.

In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, onion, olives, capers, basil, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, and 1/4 teaspoon each kosher salt and pepper. Let stand while the meat grills. Before serving, adjust the lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste.

Build a hot charcoal fire or heat a gas grill with all burners on high for at least 10 minutes. While the grill heats, lightly coat both sides of the pork chops, chicken breasts, or turkey cutlets with the oil and rub with the spice rub. Clean the hot grate with a wire brush; oil the grate.

Grill the meat (uncovered for charcoal; covered for gas) over direct heat on the hottest part of the grill, taking care not to crowd the meat. Cook until the meat forms impressive grill marks on one side, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn and continue to grill (uncovered for charcoal; covered for gas) until the meat is just firm to touch and just cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes for turkey cutlets; 3 to 4 minutes for pork chops and chicken breasts, depending on their thickness. (If grilling pork, watch out for flare-ups.) Transfer to a serving platter and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve with the salsa spooned alongside or over the meat.

Drink Suggestions

Whichever meat you choose, a fruity, dry rosé like Bonny Doon Ca del Solo Big House Pink would be a delicious match.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : using pork chops, with 1 Tbs. spice rub and 1/4 cup salsa; Calories (kcal): 230; Fat (g): fat g 13; Fat Calories (kcal): 120; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 3; Protein (g): protein g 22; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 6.5; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 7; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1.5; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 515; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 60; Fiber (g): fiber g 2;

Photo: Scott Phillips

I've made this a number of times, with chicken and pork tenderloin. It is incredibly delicious, and always a huge hit. Everything in this recipe goes so well together, the spices, the salsa...yum! I usually serve it with potatoes seasoned with chunks of sweet onion, garlic, rosemary, evoo, s & p, in a foil packet on the grill, which I put on about 20-30 min before the meat. Some grilled asparagus or simple green salad rounds it out nicely. I'm making this for a friend who doesn't cook, at her house this weekend, at her request!

Everyone raved last year after I made a chicken version of this for a family gathering of 12. My sister insisted it was the best chicken she ever had. I was going to make one of the other wonderful rub\salsa chickens from this same article, but popular demand has dictated I repeat this Mediterranean combination. This is one of 3 rub\salsa combinations from the July 2006 issue and each is wonderful in a different way. I recommend trying them all.

I too was hesitant in making this. I gave my husband the choice of 3 different recipes for pork from this site and this is the one he picked. I wouldn't have ever made this if he hadn't picked it...ever. I am sooooooo glad he picked it! My husband absolutely loved this but more importantly...I loved it too! Next time I would have a thicker, meatier pork chop. I wouldn't rub it at all (I think the salsa is the hit here and doesn't need the rub because it doesn't do anything for it) salt and pepper would do the trick. I would use the rub if I was just having a grilled pork. I would omit the capers. I love capers but the olives give it the only kick it needs. But that is just my opinion!!

I was hesitant about this recipe because of all the different ingredients in it, however I've been intrigued by it for awhile too. So since I had all of the ingrediants on hand I thought tonight was the night to try it out. It turned out superb! It was flavorful but there wasn't to much going on. A nice light yet tangy chicken topping. The chicken rub was great too!

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