Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Pork Tenderloin, A Dinner-Fast Idea

Poor pork tenderloin--it is virtually unknown on most weeknight dinner tables.

Why is that? Many people think pork is fattening, hard to cook, time-consuming and tends to be dry.

However, pork tenderloin is a great weeknight, healthful meal. It is low in fat and high in protein. If you buy good pork (I like to buy it at Whole Food's meat counter), it will not be soaked in salty chemicals. In fact, a plain piece is lower in sodium than chicken. Its cholesterol level is comparable to other meats. Click here for the complete nutritional information.

It also is delicious. And versatile.

Here is one of my favorite ways to cook a basic pork tenderloin. I've included a recipe for a quick glaze at the end.

One note about cooking pork: I highly recommend using a meat thermometer to make certain the pork doesn't get overdone. It is pretty much inedible when overcooked. I like a meat thermometer like this one because the probe is left in the meat, in the oven, while the display sits on the counter. And, it alerts you when the meat's internal temperature hits the mark. You can get all sorts of fancy meat thermometers if you want to pay a price, but a good, basic digital will work just as well.

A final note: In 2011, the government lowered the required internal temperature for pork from 160 degrees to 145 (you can read about it here). This leaves the pork a little pink in the middle, very juicy and perfectly safe. No wonder pork has had such a bad reputation for being dry.

How to Roast a Pork Tenderloin
Serves 4-5

1 pork tenderloin
1-2 tablespoons canola oil
Sea salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and remove meat from fridge about 30 minutes before cooking. This is a good time to prepare a glaze or rub, if you are using one.

Add a tablespoon or so of canola oil to the bottom of an oven-proof pan. I love to use my large cast-iron pan for this. Apply a rub, if using, or sprinkle the meat with a bit of sea salt if desired. Set the pan over medium high heat and lay in the tenderloin. Sear on all four sides for about 5 minutes each. Remove from heat and apply a glaze, if using.

Place skillet in oven, insert the meat thermometer probe, if using, and roast, bringing the internal temperature to 145. It will take about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and tent with foil for about 5 minutes.

Tangy-Sweet Glaze for Pork Tenderloin
1 1/2 Tablespoons yellow mustard
1  1/2 teaspoons molasses
1 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon canola oil
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon sea salt, if desired
1 - 2 drops hot sauce

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk. Add to tenderloin after searing and before sliding it into the oven.

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