In the Kitchen With: Dana Sicko’s Carnitas and Pineapple Salsa

Dana Sicko's Carnitas and Pineapple Salsa on Design*Sponge

I’m always a little sad to see summer go — mostly because I have to say goodbye to great tomatoes — but I do love the transition into autumn. As temperatures gradually drop, turning on the oven becomes more and more enticing, as do long-cooked dishes. This week’s recipe, perfect for the seasonal transition, comes from food entrepreneur Dana Sicko. Dana’s Carnitas with Pineapple-Jicama Salsa are made using the pressure cooker to maximize efficiency in cooking pork tenderloin. The spicy and contrasting flavors and textures still evoke bright summer food even as the days get shorter. If you can’t find jicama, Dana recommends using cucumber and radish together in its place. —Kristina

Why Dana loves this recipe: I haven’t met a single person who says “no” to tacos or carnitas or, really, any Mexican food! I love this recipe because it is a great hit of flavorful and succulent (yet lean) pork tenderloin and the pineapple-jicama salsa is a great punch of texture and bright flavors. Also by using the pressure cooker you are able to get a delicious texture of meat in less than half the time. I absolutely love my pressure cooker. This is a great recipe moving into the fall when the evenings start to get a little cooler and you have exhausted the grill.

Food Photography by Kristina Gill | Portrait by Julie Andersen

Carnitas with Pineapple-Jicama Salsa

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

– 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
– 1 yellow onion, diced
– salt and pepper
– 2 ½ lbs. pork tenderloin, cut into 3 pieces
– 1 tablespoon chili powder
– 1 tablespoon ground cumin
– 1 teaspoon ground coriander
– 1 teaspoon dried oregano
– ¼ teaspoon cayenne, optional
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 3 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly smashed
– ½ cup hot sauce (I prefer Cholula)
– 3 cups low sodium chicken stock, enough to almost cover tenderloin
– 2 tablespoons orange juice
– 1 tablespoon lime juice

Heat the 1 tablespoon of oil in your pressure cooker over medium high heat. Once the oil is heated, sautee the diced onion until translucent and until most liquid has evaporated. Remove the diced onions to a plate and reserve.

 Salt and pepper the tenderloin on all sides. Heat the tenderloin in the pressure cooker, searing on each side for about 2 minutes.

Once the meat has been seared on each side, place all remaining ingredients (including the sautéed onions) into the pressure cooker. Follow your pressure cooker manufacturer’s directions for bringing up to temperature, and sealing your specific pressure cooker model. Once pressure has been reached, cook for 1 hour. Take your pressure cooker off the heat and allow to cool and then release. Follow your manufacturer’s directions for carefully opening your specific cooker. Remove pork to large plate, or bowl and shred using two forks.

Return uncovered pot to heat and simmer gently until liquid is reduced to a slightly thick sauce, about 15 minutes. With heat still on, stir in the pork, allowing it to shred and become fully coated in the sauce. Check for seasoning. Add more salt and pepper, if needed. Once the pork is heated through and well coated, it is ready to be enjoyed in a tortilla with pineapple-jicama salsa!

Pineapple-Jicama Salsa

Serves 4-6

The key to a really good salsa is keeping everything as uniform in size as possible. Look at it as a way to really practice your chopping skills!

Ingredients

– 1 cup of jicama (or a mix of cucumber and radish)
– 1 cup of pineapple
– ¼ red onion, minced
– 1 orange, juiced and zested
– 1 jalapeño, seeded, stemmed and minced, less if you prefer less spicy
– ¼ bunch cilantro, chopped
– salt and pepper

Chop jicama and pineapple into ¼ inch cubes. Mix all ingredients and let sit for at least an hour in the refrigerator (perfect for while the meat cooks) so the flavors can develop.

Dana Sicko's Carnitas and Pineapple Salsa on Design*Sponge

About Dana: At 27, Dana Sicko is the CEO of two growing food businesses and she’s also a cookbook author. Her first business, the personal chef and boutique catering service Nutreatious, was founded in 2011. Dana’s other company Gundalow Juice, now available at Whole Foods, was founded in 2014 with its first official sale out of the back of her Fiat. Dana is a smiling, bubbly presence at almost every Baltimore start-up and health & wellness event. Many of Dana’s recipes are available in Perfectly Plated: The Nutreatious Cookbook, which was co-written by Dana and her team of chefs. Find Dana on Twitter and Instagram.

Dana Sicko on Design*Sponge

  1. Marisa says:

    Yum! I wish I had this for lunch right now.

  2. Roz says:

    When preparing Mexican food that calls for oregano, it’s important not to use Mediterranean oregano. The McCormick brand is Mexican oregano, most other brands are Mediterranean oregano. And make sure you warm your tortillas. Thoes in the photo are cold, how can I tell? They’re stiff and with no blisters (I’m sure tasteless). ¡Buen provecho!

    1. Dana says:

      Hi Roz,

      What great recommendations! Thank you!

  3. Kristina says:

    Thanks for your tips, Roz! You are right- warm tortillas are delicious! -K

  4. JudiAU says:

    The meal looks really tasty but using a pork tenderloin is really really strange. And in a pressure cooker no less! Is this a mistake?

    1. Kristina says:

      Hi, Judiau! The meal is indeed very tasty! I believe Dana’s choice for tenderloin was to use a leaner cut of pork, and the pressure cooker to speed cooking. The tenderloin was very easy to tear with forks- something I hadn’t expected at the outset but was very happy to discover. -Kristina

  5. Krayl Funch says:

    Thank you Dana! This looks like the perfect dish for an early fall dinner in the patio with friends.

    1. Dana says:

      Thank you so much Krayl! I hope you enjoy it! – Dana Sicko

  6. Lee says:

    I made this yesterday and it was fantastic. I’m usually not a fan of fruit based salsas, but this was sooooo good and what really makes it, in my opinion. No jicama available, but the cucumber and radish substitution was spot on. I made a giant bowl of this salsa and will be having it all week, along with the pork, mixed with crisp romaine for lunch salads.

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