Week of: April 25, 2011
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Pork Meets Spring
By Dana Jacobi
for the American Institute for Cancer Research
I cook pork frequently because it mixes so sociably with other ingredients. Concentrating on keeping the meat to a lesser role in meals, I find pork particularly goes well with a wide variety of vegetables and fruit. Preparing pork gets especially interesting when cooking with a seasonal eye.
For example, lean boneless pork chops, so good served on a bed of mashed sweet potatoes in winter, are just as enticing set over baby spinach sautéed with garlic when spring brings tender leaves to life. Strips of pork cooked in a wok with broccoli, sliced radishes – the first spring vegetable ready for harvest in most gardens – and black beans in store-bought black bean sauce makes another easy, timely meal. For slow cooking, pork shoulder simmered long and gently with tomatoes and heaps of onions produces an Italian red sauce for pasta that is an ideal example of using meat to flavor a dish to serve when April showers demand comfort food.
As for fruit, pork goes with just as many choices. For pork chops, consider them smothered in sliced apples and onions or braised in apple juice on a bed of prunes and pear slices any time of year. Then, on unseasonably warm spring days, pair grilled pork with a colorful salsa of mango, kiwi, strawberries and a Serrano chile.
Borrowing inspiration from Rozanne Gold, the queen of cooking with a minimal number of ingredients, grapes plus pork (she uses chicken breast), makes a company dinner guests will remember. The grapes are roasted at 375 degrees F until wrinkly-looking. Keeping half for garnishing, purée the rest in the blender, then strain, keeping the liquid. (I stir the grape pulp into my morning oatmeal or yogurt…you must try this!) Finally, sauté the chops, set aside, add the grape liquid to deglaze the pan, return the chops and roasted grapes, and when all are hot, serve with a sprinkling of chives, springtime’s earliest herbal harbinger.
Finally, with summer just ahead, think of pork with this refined combination of cherries and pomegranate.
Pork Tenderloin with Pomegranate Cherry Sauce
- 1/2 cup dried tart cherries
- 3/4 cup pomegranate juice, divided
- 1 lb. pork tenderloin
- 4 tsp. canola oil
- 1/2 cup fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 1 Tbsp. coarse seed mustard
- 2 tsp. unsalted butter, optional
- Salt and ground black pepper
Place cherries in small bowl. Add 1/2 cup pomegranate juice and let sit until cherries are plump, about 20 minutes. Drain, setting fruit aside and reserving liquid.
Cut tenderloin crosswise into 8 pieces. Using your palm, gently flatten each piece to an even thickness.
Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork and cook until it is browned on both sides, turning meat once, about 6 minutes in all. When instant read thermometer reads 150 degrees F. or meat resists slightly when pressed with your finger, remove it to plate, cover loosely with foil, and set aside.
Pour broth into the pan. As it boils, use wooden spatula to scrape up all browned bits. When broth is reduced by half, 4-5 minutes, add cherries, shallots, pomegranate juice and reserved juice from soaking, thyme and mustard. Simmer vigorously until liquid is reduced by one-third, 4 to 5 minutes. Return meat and any juices that have collected to pan and cook until meat is barely pink in the center or instant read thermometer registers 160 degrees F. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Place 2 pieces of tenderloin on each of 4 dinner plates. If using, swirl butter into sauce until it melts. Spoon sauce over meat. Serve immediately.
Note: If the tenderloin has a silverskin membrane, remove it or at the meat counter, ask the butcher to do it for you.
Makes 4 servings.
Per serving: 238 calories, 5 g total fat (4 g saturated fat), 43 g carbohydrate,
7 g protein, 6 g dietary fiber, 155 mg sodium.
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