By JIM ROMANOFF
Pork tenderloin gets plenty of attention for it leanness. After all, it rivals boneless, skinless chicken breast.
But tenderloins also deserve credit for their versatility. They usually weigh between 1 and 11/2 pounds, the perfect size for feeding a family of four. And they lend themselves to so many different preparations, you never need to serve it the same way twice.
For ultra-quick meals, cut the tenderloin crosswise into 1/2-inch medallions. These can be grilled or sauteed, then finished with a quick pan sauce made with minced shallots, white wine, a bit of Dijon mustard and some chopped fresh herbs.
To make the medallions even more tender and quick-cooking, place the raw medallions between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound them to 1/4-inch thickness using a meat mallet or heavy frying pan.
Chunks of pork tenderloin can be used in stews and soups, but be sure to keep the cooking times short so the lean pork doesn't get too tough. Or for a truly impressive presentation, you can prepare a stuffed pork tenderloin.
Using a sharp knife, make a slit in a pork tenderloin lengthwise to within 1/2 inch of the other side. Open the tenderloin flat and place it between two sheets of plastic wrap. Pound to 1/2-inch thickness.
Fill the flattened tenderloin, lengthwise down the center, with a stuffing (such as chopped, sauteed mushrooms and onions or slices of proscuitto layered with slivers of Parmesan cheese). Roll the pork like a jelly roll and tie with kitchen twine in several spots.
Grill or roast the stuffed pork tenderloin until it reaches an internal temperature of 155 F. Let the meat rest for 5 minutes, then carve into 1/2-inch slices to serve.
One of the simplest preparations is to roast or grill a tenderloin that has been marinated or rubbed with a spice blend.
This grilled pork tenderloin in a soy-sherry marinade takes only a few minutes to prep, but can sit all day in the marinade. For a convenient but sophisticated weeknight meal, you can start it in the morning and simply cook it when you get home from work.
If you don't feel like grilling, roast it in the oven at 400 F until it reaches an internal temperature of 155 F.
GRILLED PORK TENDERLOIN IN SOY-SHERRY MARINADE
* Start to finish: 30 minutes (plus 1 to 8 hours marinating). Makes 4 servings.
* What you'll need:
2-inch piece fresh ginger, sliced
6 cloves garlic
1/2 cup dry sherry
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
11/4-pound pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat
4 scallions, thinly sliced
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
* How to do it:
In a food processor, combine the ginger and garlic. Pulse until coarsely chopped. Add the sherry, soy sauce, oil and cinnamon. Pulse to just combine.
In a large zip-close plastic bag, place the pork tenderloin and scallions. Add the marinade, then turn the tenderloin to coat completely. Seal the bag and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours.
Heat a gas grill to medium-high or prepare a charcoal fire.
Remove the tenderloin from the bag, leaving as much of the seasonings on the meat as possible. Season with salt and pepper.
Oil the grill grates. Grill the tenderloin, turning several times, until just cooked through and an instant read thermometer inserted at the center registers 155 F, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Transfer the tenderloin to a cutting board, cover with foil and let rest for 5 minutes. Carve crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices to serve.
* Nutrition information per serving (rounded to the nearest whole number): 204 calories; 49 calories from fat; 5 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 92 mg cholesterol; 5 g carbohydrate; 30 g protein; 0 g fiber; 560 mg sodium.