- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Pork tenderloin is an ideal meat cut for a two-person household. The tenderloinn is a smaller piece, ranging from 10 ounces to a pound.

It also cooks quickly, fitting into busy schedules.

This last attribute may surprise you.

If you’re relying on the advice from a previous generation in the kitchen, you may be cooking pork longer than necessary.

Thirty years ago, cookbooks recommended bringing pork to a temperature of 185 degrees, or until the meat was a white to grayish color, to destroy Trichinella spiralis, which causes trichinosis.

Now, with improved animal breeding, trichinella is rarely found in supermarket pork.

You shorten roasting time because you need only cook the pork to 160 degrees for medium doneness.

At 160 degrees, the pork may still be pink in the center, but it will be safe to eat, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Reduced roasting times will not only speed up dinner preparations. It also will improve the quality of the meal because pork tenderloin will remain succulent and flavorful.

Instead of slathering it with a heavy sauce to compensate for the dryness, just season the meat with a rub and serve a bell pepper compote on the side.

Serve it with potato and fresh pea salad for an easy dinner that is good enough for a special guest.

Spice-rubbed pork with bell pepper compote

SPICE-RUBBED PORK:

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper or less to taste

1/4 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

1 10- to 12-ounce pork tenderloin, fat removed

Bell pepper compote (recipe follows)

Combine cumin, cayenne pepper to taste, salt and pepper on a plate. Roll pork tenderloin in seasonings. Set aside for 15 minutes.

Place pork on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Roast in preheated 400-degree oven for 25 minutes or until meat thermometer registers 160 degrees. Let pork sit for 5 minutes before slicing.

While pork is roasting, prepare bell pepper compote. Cut pork diagonally into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Serve with bell pepper compote on the side. Makes 2 servings.

BELL PEPPER COMPOTE:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into thin strips

1 small yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into thin strips

1 small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

1/8 teaspoon dried, crushed oregano

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Heat oil in large skillet. Add bell peppers and onion, and cook over low-medium heat for 5 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes longer, or until vegetables are tender but not browned and vinegar aroma evaporates.

Potato and fresh pea salad

1 cup fresh peas (or frozen, thawed)

6 small new potatoes, unpeeled

Salt

1 small celery rib, trimmed and thinly sliced

1 tablespoon minced chives

3 to 4 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon pepper

½ teaspoon white horseradish, optional

Place fresh peas in a small pot with ½ cup water. (If using frozen, skip this step but allow peas to come to room temperature.) Bring to a boil. Cook for 2 minutes, or until tender and bright green. Drain well and set aside. Meanwhile, place potatoes in a medium pot with ½ teaspoon salt. Add water to cover; bring to a boil. Boil potatoes for 30 minutes or until tender. Drain well and cool. Cut potatoes into bite-size pieces.

Combine peas and potatoes in a salad bowl. Add celery and chives. Mix mayonnaise, lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, pepper and horseradish (if using) in a cup. Stir into potato mixture; toss gently to mix. Makes 2 servings.

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