Working with smaller cuts of meat is an easy way to get supper on the table in a flash.
But smaller cuts of, say, chicken or pork that are packaged and labeled as cutlets cost a little more.
But if there’s one trick to being a savvy shopper, it’s to buy larger portions and cut them yourself.
Pork tenderloins, which are considered a lean protein, are in this category. If you buy them on sale, they’re not terribly expensive. If you’re cooking, say, just for two, you still have to handle a whole tenderloin. When you cook them whole they take about 40 minutes total, depending on the size, which isn’t all that long. But if you slice a tenderloin into medallions, as we did for today’s Grilled Pork Tenderloin, they cook quickly. You can cook them on the grill, pan-sear or even broil them.
When slicing the tenderloin, start at the tapered (smaller) end and slice on a slight diagonal for even pieces. To get them to an even thickness, place the slices between plastic wrap and use a meat mallet to pound them gently to desired thickness. I was able to simply press down on them with my palm.
Having pork tenderloins tucked away in the freezer is a must. They’re easy to work with and usually thaw quickly. You can thaw them in the microwave or in the refrigerator. If you thaw them in the microwave, planning on cooking them right away. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) says that foods thawed in the microwave could become warm enough for bacteria to grow.
This recipe easily serves four with a vegetable side dish and a salad.
Pork Cutlets With Zucchini and Oregano/Feta Butter
Serves 4. reparation time: 10 minutes. Total time: 30 minutes.
Adapted from Cook’s Country magazine, August/September 2013 issue. Tested by Susan M. Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.
1 1/4 to 11/3 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup flavored feta cheese or regular feta cheese
1 tablespoon oregano, freshly chopped
1/2 teaspoon grated orange or lemon zest, optional
4 small zucchini (6 ounces each), halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Preheat the grill to medium heat.
Starting at the tapered end of the tenderloin, slice it on a slight diagonal about 1/2 – to 3/4 -inch thick. You should have about 10 or more slices.
Press or gently pound the pieces out to about 1/4 -inch thickness. They will look round but not perfectly so, and that’s OK.
Pat pork dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper; set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the butter, feta, oregano, orange or lemon zest and season with salt and pepper to taste, about 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of each in bowl; set aside. Brush the zucchini with oil and season with salt and pepper.
Oil the grill grates. Grill the pork until lightly charred and cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to serving platter, tent loosely with foil to keep them warm and let them rest while cooking the zucchini.
Place the zucchini on the grill, cut side down, and grill about 3 minutes. Turn and grill another 2 to 3 minutes or until just tender. Serve the pork with the zucchini, topping both with some of the butter.
Analysis based on 4 ounces pork tenderloin and 1 1/2 tablespoons feta butter. 301 calories (59 percent from fat), 20 grams fat (10 grams sat. fat), 5 grams carbohydrates, 26 grams protein, 591 mg sodium, 11 mg cholesterol, 2 grams fiber.