Monday, May 2, 2011

PLEASE...NO MORE CHICKEN THIS WEEK!

Like many of of my friends, I tend to eat a LOT of chicken. Especially when eating out, chicken is usually the safer bet if you're finicky about your food. Beef can be tough, pork can be overcooked or tasteless, seafood can be expensive. But chicken is almost always tasty and affordable.

Same thing for eating at home. It's very easy to cook chicken, everyone does it, and if you don't feel like starting from scratch, it's so easy to find already pre-cooked in the grocery stores that meals practically make themselves.

Well, I'm tired of chicken. So no more chicken breasts in the shopping basket for this week.  In considering my alternatives, I readily admit that I like beef, but I REALLY like pork. I will acknowledge that pork can be difficult to cook so that it's edible. Pork roasts require long, slow cooking and work well over the winter months in the slow cooker. Pork chops can be really difficult since they quickly go from perfectly cooked to hard as stumps almost immediately. Modern pork has been bred to be very lean so that today it can be a very good choice for healthier eating, but unfortunately that means it's also lost a lot of it's flavor

To the rescue comes Pork Tenderloin. Unlike pork chops or pork loin roasts, pork tenderloins do not need to a brine to enhance their flavor and texture but they can do with a bit of jazzing up with a pan sauce or a spice rub. They can be cooked as one piece and sliced when done, or sliced and pounded thinly to form cutlets. Avoid the pre-flavored ones and go for the plain packages so that you can flavor them yourself.

Pork tenderloins are often sold two to a package but for the single cook, even one tenderloin is too much for one meal. I bring mine home, cut the tenderloins into halves and freeze them individually for future use.

This recipe was inspired by a recipe from America's Test Kitchen. It is easy to make and the glaze is delicious served over the carrots I cooked with my meal.  The glaze is a bit sweet, so if you prefer plain buttered carrots, they will help to cut the sweet of the meal.


ROAST PORK TENDERLOIN WITH APRICOT-ORANGE GLAZE
Pork Tenderloin
  1/2 pork tenderloin (about 5-6-ounces), silver skin removed
  1 teaspoon vegetable oil

Apricot-Orange Glaze
  1/4 cup apricot preserves
  2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Carrots with Glaze
  3 thin carrots, cleaned and cut
  2 tablespoons of glaze from the pork pan
  1 teaspoon chopped chives

Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees.

Pat the tenderloin dry with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a 6-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown the tenderloin on all sides, reducing the heat if the fat begins to smoke, about 10 minutes. Transfer the tenderloin to a small baking dish, just a bit larger than the pork.

Pour off the fat left in the skillet. Add all the glaze ingredients to the skillet, stirring and scraping up any browned bits, and simmer until slightly thickened and fragrant, about 3 minutes.

Brush all but 2 tablespoons of the glaze over the tenderloin and roast until the thickest part registers 135 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 10 to 15 minutes, flipping the tenderloin over halfway through the roasting time.  Keep the remaining glaze in the skillet on low until the carrots are ready.

Meanwhile, put the carrots in a small saucepan.  Cover with water, add about 1 teaspoon salt and cook over medium-high heat until done to your liking, 10-12 minutes. 

Transfer the tenderloins to a carving board, cover with foil, and let rest until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 145 to 150 degrees, 5 to 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, drain the carrots and toss in the glaze, adding the chopped chives.  Slice pork into 1/2-inch-thick pieces, serve with glaze.

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