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How To Attack a Pineapple Before It Attacks You

Posted Jul 08 2010 9:17am
This post is for my lovely friend Molly, who tried to mask her identity when she posted on the blog, but I watched every episode of Alias (meaning: I am clearly trained as a spy), and her ruse did not fool me. Miss Molly (Good golly!), requested a step-by-step tutorial on how to cut a pineapple, so that she could indulge in it's succulence without having to pay the heavy price of purchasing it in it's pre-cut form. [Some might also add "without having to sacrifice the flavor of eating canned pineapple," but, if I'm going to be honest with you...I like canned pineapple, too.]

My love for pineapple was really solidified when I spent three weeks living in Costa Rica, and ate 14 pineapples every day by myself. (This is only an approximation, but the people I was working for did comment that I might, in fact, turn into a pineapple before the trip was over.) I also, at that time, learned how to cut a pineapple with a machete on the beach, but that will not be demonstrated here. Sad, I know. Happy, however, that y'all can now join me in pineapple passion (fruit is also delicious*).

*A little Wheel of Fortune "before and after" for you.

First, you need a pineapple.
This one was pretty much perfect. You want big "eyes" that are yellow, not brown...a little green ring will usually be OK. Like a dog, you want to sniff your pineapples should smell really sweet, not like the pineapple is started to go bad/rancid/acidic.

Another trick I learned from a chef who had worked in Hawaii: cut the top off of your pineapple and turn it upside down overnight to let the sweet juice redistribute throughout the fruit. I cannot testify that this works, but it's worth giving it a try!

In addition to your pineapple, you need a cutting board, a bowl for your pieces, and a knife (or two).
I actually prefer to use the thinner, smaller knife, to help get close cuts on the edges, but a larger chef's knife might be necessary for the initial cuts.

If we were in Highlights Magazine, this would be the time when you would see an image of Goofus, attacking a pineapple like so Gallant, however, would know to proceed by cutting the top of the pineapple in one smooth stroke.
Goofus would use the top of the pineapple as a hat.
Gallant would proceed by cutting off the bottom of the pineapple...
...and cutting down each of the sides...
...and then the corners.
Goofus would be so overcome by the sweet smell of this prickly perfection of a pineapple, that he would use his teeth to eat any morsel of pineapple he could get from the scrap edges...
...but Gallant would continue to carefully trim the sides.
Both Goofus and Gallant would most likely eat those finer trimmings, because what's a little "eye" in your pineapple? It's like kiwi skin...a little texture never hurt anyone! [Although, if you know of any medical reason to avoid eating those brown eyelets, let me know.]

Next, Gallant would slice evenly around the inner core/rind.
Goofus would do the same, and then chew on the rind until every last morsel of available pineapple is gone.
To make neater "cubes," Gallant would trim off the arched tops and pointy edges. Goofus could care less about pyramid-shaped pineapple.
Gallant would cut the larger side pieces in triplicate, and then dice them evenly.
Cut them into whatever size cube you like! Finely diced for a salsa...larger for grabbing handfuls from the fridge...and medium-sized for a fruit salad.
Gallant would save every bit of the pineapple and show off a job well done!
Goofus would eat most of the pineapple before it even made it into the bowl.
The ultimate question is...what do I do with my pineapple? Well, aside from the obvious--EAT IT, YOU FOOL!--there have been cases of plain-pineapple-overload (PPO) that is similar to watermelon overindulgence (WOI), whereby your stomach hurts really really badly and you curse yourself for your lack of self-control. [With pineapple, you can also get a Sour Patch Kid-like burning sensation in your mouth.]

You can combine your pineapple with watermelon and mint....
....for a change-your-life fruit salad.
Or, alternatively, you can be like me and turn everything into salsa .
What are those satisfying salsa-rific substances? I like to call them Tro-pico* Two Ways.

*Since moving to Texas, I have had to adjust my salsa definitions. Although salsa is still the broad category including most chopped, tomato-based-or-not, condiments containing red onion, jalapeno, and cilantro...most Tex-Mex fans like the term to apply to more liquidious creations, whereas the chopped-n-chunky variations I prefer are solely referenced as pico (as in, de gallo...again, please listen to some Trout Fishing In America ). And let us not forget relish . That is an entirely other class of condiment.

The "two ways" refers to one that is sweet, and one that is spicy...they start off the same, and then can take on two entirely different flavor profiles.
Spicy Tro-pico

1/2 cup finely diced pineapple
1/2 cup finely diced mango
1/2 cup finely diced papaya
1 finely diced kiwi
1/4 cup finely diced red onion (or more to taste)
1 finely diced small jalapeno, seeded
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro (or to taste)
Juice of 1 lime

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Stir. Enjoy!
Both of these Tro-picos are great served with salty chips (love sweet and salty!), but, in the vein of many food bloggies who have been making "fruit bruschetta," I would also suggest a homemade (or storebought) cinnamon and sugar tortilla or pita chip for the sweet version. :)

The spicy style would be great on fish or chicken (or in fish or chicken tacos?), and the sweet one I think would be lovely on top of yogurt or ice cream!
Sweet Tro-pico

1/2 cup finely diced pineapple
1/2 cup finely diced mango
1/2 cup finely diced papaya
1 finely diced kiwi
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint (or to taste)
Juice of 1 lime
1 1/2 tsp. of honey (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Stir. Enjoy!
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