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Tacos Al Pastor

Meredith Deeds, Special to the Star Tribune

Fruit with meat: How sweet (and savory) it is

  • Article by: MEREDITH DEEDS
  • January 10, 2013 - 1:30 PM

Recently I was asked to fill out a questionnaire for a popular food blog. One of the questions was whether I preferred salty or sweet.

Well, that's a tough one. Really, one of my favorite tastes is salty and sweet together, or more to the point, savory and sweet. Of course, too much sweet defeats the purpose -- after all, we're not looking for dessert for dinner, although my children might dispute that claim.

Adding fruit to savory dishes, though, is a good way to insert a little sweetness without going overboard. It's a popular technique used in cuisines all over the world, from Eastern Europe's sweet-and-sour cabbage with apples to Thailand's green curry with chicken and bananas.

The addition of fruit does more than just add sweetness to a dish; it can make a dish more appealing and accessible to the younger diners at your dinner table. As a child, one of my favorite meals was Grandma's version of Indian curry, which included bananas in the array of garnishes she served with the dish.

I wasn't born with an adventurous palate. Like most of us, I developed mine over time. As a youngster, my list of favorite foods wouldn't normally include Indian curry, but bananas got my attention. Of course, the coconut and cashews didn't hurt, either.

A prize fruit

A top contender for "Most Popular Fruit in a Savory Dish" is pineapple. It's everywhere: kebabs, salsas, pizzas (and pizza doesn't even need fruit to appeal to kids).

My personal favorite savory/sweet dish is a Mexican recipe for Tacos al Pastor. It's the perfect marriage of pork, chiles and pineapple. Pork is marinated (although in my slow-cooker version, we skip the marinating and jump right to slow cooking) in a pineapple, chile and vinegar mixture.

An enzyme in pineapple called bromelain acts as a meat tenderizer. The result is a tender, slightly sweet and deeply flavorful taco filling, which, paired with fresh pineapple as a garnish, makes for a memorable meal.

Meredith Deeds of Edina is the author of "Everyday to Entertaining" and "The Big Book of Appetizers." Reach her at meredith@meredithdeeds.com. Follow her on Twitter @meredithdeeds.

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