Weary (people do get weary) of chicken? Try a little (pork) tenderloin

January 02, 1991|By Charlyne Varkonyi

Pork hasn't been a member of the restaurant menu hit parade during the past few years. As fat and cholesterol-conscious Americans turned away from beef and pork and toward chicken and fish, pork became a rarity on restaurant menus.

But even the skeptics, who say many pork cuts are still too fat for a prudent diet, now agree that roasted, boneless, trimmed pork tenderloin is comparable to roasted, boneless and skinless chicken breasts. A 3-ounce serving of chicken has 140 calories, 3 grams fat, 0.9 grams saturated fat and 72 milligrams cholesterol. The pork has 133 calories, 4 grams of fat, 1.4 grams saturated fat and 67 milligrams cholesterol.

One of the chefs to rediscover pork tenderloin in a creative way is Jean-Pierre Brehier, chef/owner of the Left Bank restaurant, a favorite haunt of mine when I used to live and write about food in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. A recent newsletter from his restaurant contained a recipe for one of the tastiest pork tenderloin dishes I have experimented with in a long time.

"People were always under the assumption that pork is fatty and pork is bad for you," Mr. Brehier says. But pork is better for you today. This pork tenderloin is like the finest veal you have ever had. It is extremely tender, flavorful and moist. If we do this dish as a special, people really go for it."

This Fastlane Feast adaptation takes its inspiration from his Left Bank recipe, but I have played around with the seasoning to make it less sweet and added pine nuts for additional texture. Serve it with buttered spinach egg noodles and salad with the dressing of your choice.

First, put the water on to boil for the pasta, then start cooking the pork. While the sauce is simmering, you can wash the lettuce greens and get the salad ready.

Items you should have in your pantry include: extra virgin olive oil, salt and freshly ground pepper, 2 shallots, red wine vinegar, honey, 1 can orange juice concentrate, butter, salad greens and dressing.

Your 10-item-or-less shopping list should include:

*1 pound pork tenderloin, sliced into 4 chops

*pine nuts, optional

*1 bottle merlot wine

*1 pint heavy cream

*9 ounces thinly cut spinach egg noodles

Pork tenderloin with orange-honey sauce Makes 4 servings.

1 pound pork tenderloin, sliced into 4 chops

salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 shallots, chopped

1 tablespoon pine nuts, optional

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 cup merlot or other red wine

1 tablespoon honey

1/3 cup cream

1 tablespoon frozen orange juice concentrate

Flatten chops with a meat hammer. Season with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat oil in a large frying pan until smoking. Fry chops on medium high, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove the pork from the skillet and set aside.

Add shallots and pine nuts to the skillet and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until the shallots are translucent and nuts slightly brown. Add vinegar and red wine and stir. Then add pork chops and cook on medium, reducing the sauce for about 10 minutes. Remove chops again and add honey, cream and orange juice, mixing well. Bring to boil, adjust seasoning and serve over pork.

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