Friday, August 6, 2010

Pork tenderloin: A kitchen mainstay

I cannot remember when I discovered pork tenderloins, but from the day I first brought one home, they have become a staple in my freezer -- always at the ready for a quick thawing out and easy weeknight dinner.

My absolutely favorite way to cook one is to marinate it in an Asian-inspired mixture -- which changes depending on what is in my pantry and fridge, and can include any or all of the following ingredients: dark sesame oil (a little goes a long way), lime juice, some rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, garlic and freshly grated ginger. Easy and fast, this marinade works well year-round and really is brainless cooking.

Recently, I have been trying other recipes, just to mix things up a bit. I know some say that when you are dieting, sticking to the same meals over and over again works. I can do that for breakfast and lunch. But come dinner, I really want something different.

The first recipe is from Weight Watchers, and is really yummy. A tad more complicated than my Asian marinade, but absolutely a snap to get on the table.

½ Tblsp. Dijon mustard, coarse-grain
1 lb. lean pork tenderloin, trimmed of all visible fat
½ tsp. olive oil
6 oz. frozen pearl onions
Q clove garlic, minced
½ cup reduced fat chicken broth
½ Tblsp, balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. thyme leaves
1 tsp. packed brown sugar
Spray the broiler rack with nonstick spray; preheat the broiler.
Rub the mustard over the pork to coat; place on the broiler rack.
Broil the pork 5 inches from the heat until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees, about 5 minutes on each side. Transfer the pork to a plate, wrap it in foil, and let it stand 10 minutes before thinly slicing.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring constantly, until they begin to brown, about 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic, then stir in the broth, vinegar, thyme, and brown sugar; bring to a boil and boil until the liquid is reduced by one-third and thickens into a sauce, 3-4 minutes. Spoon over the pork.
Makes 4 servings. 4 POINTS per serving.
Note: The pork can also be roasted in a 425-degree oven for 20 minutes.

The next two recipes are from Cooking Light, one a bit sweet, the other a tad spicy. Try either – depending on your mood!

Here, a pork tenderloin is cut into 16 medallions, an ideal shape and size for sautéing. Butter is whisked into the red wine mixture at the end, creating a velvety and rich sauce. Serve with plain or garlic-flavored couscous.
1 cup ruby port or other sweet red wine
1/3 cup dried sweet cherries
4 tsp. seedless raspberry jam
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tblsp. vegetable oil
1 1/2 lbs. pork tenderloin, trimmed
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 Tblsp. butter
Fresh parsley springs (optional)
Combine first 4 ingredients.
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over low heat for 2 minutes.
Cut the pork crosswise into 16 pieces. Sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper.
Place pork in pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Remove pork from pan. Stir in wine mixture, scraping to loosen browned bits. Increase heat to high; bring to a boil. Cook until reduced to 1/2 cup (about 3 minutes). Remove from heat. Stir in butter with a whisk. Serve sauce over pork. Garnish with parsley, if desired.
Makes 4 servings: 4 tenderloins and 2 tablespoons sauce: 269 calories; 8g fat; 79mg cholesterol; 13g carbohydrates; 295mg sodium; 24g protein; .7g fiber.

This fiery barbecue was invented by runaway slaves as a means of preserving meats without refrigeration. Here, we butterfly the pork tenderloin to increase the surface area for the Scotch bonnet pepper marinade to penetrate.

2 cups coarsely chopped green onions
1/2 cup coarsely chopped onion
2 Tblsp. white vinegar
1 Tblsp. soy sauce
1 Tblsp. vegetable oil
2 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. fresh thyme
2 tsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 to 4 Scotch bonnet or habanera peppers, seeded and chopped
1 to 1½ lb. pork tenderloin, trimmed
Cooking spray
Place first 15 ingredients in a blender or food processor, and process until smooth.
Slice pork lengthwise, cutting to, but not through, other side. Open halves, laying each side flat.
Combine pork and green onion mixture in a dish or large zip-top plastic bag. Cover or seal; marinate in refrigerator 3 to 24 hours. Remove pork from dish or bag; discard remaining marinade.
Prepare grill.
Place pork on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 8 minutes on each side or until meat thermometer registers 160° (slightly pink).Makes 4 to 6 3-ounce servings, depending on size of pork. Per 3-ounce serving: 248 calories; 8g fat; 111mg cholesterol; 7g carbohydrates; 1126mg sodium; 1.5g fiber.

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