I might have mentioned this before: I’m a slow cook. This has nothing to do with slow-cookers or slow cooking or the Slow Food movement. It has to do with not being speedy.
In part, I’m slow in the kitchen because I enjoy the process of cooking, and I get caught up in it. And, in part, I think it’s because I never had to be fast. Everyone I cook for can wait; there’s no maître d’ in my house hurrying diners along, no runner bringing more order tickets into the kitchen. That means I cook for the yum factor.
But then there are those serendipitous recipes in which yum and quick meet. This is one of them.
When I sent the recipe to Mary, my longtime tester, I called it “quick-cooking.” When it came back to me, those words had been replaced by “lightning fast,” which is only a slight exaggeration. Even I can get this to the table in under 20 minutes. Someone with kids clamoring for dinner can probably top my personal best time.
Because the dish is based on pork tenderloin, it starts off with an advantage. The tenderloin is a quick-cooking cut that, when sauteed, as it is here, should be kept over heat for only a few minutes. Because the meat is cut into two-bite morsels, its total cooking time is even faster than usual.
But speed is a convenience; taste is the reason to make this dish. The pork gets three layers of flavor: a spice rub that includes chili powder, ginger, cumin and curry powder; a saucy gloss of honey and apple cider vinegar; and a couple of spoonfuls of Dijon mustard. Quickly mixed in the pan, these ingredients coat the meat and create a sauce that’s good straight or drizzled over what’s next to it on the plate. My favorite go-along is a spicy salad, one with arugula and mustard greens, maybe some tatsoi, too, tossed with a little oil and lemon juice and spooned onto each plate as a bed for the pork and sauce.
● Have everything measured out and ready to go, because once you start cooking, you’ll want to move quickly: You’ll be at the stove for only a few minutes.
● Cut the pork tenderloin into same-size pieces that will all cook evenly. I like to cut the meat in half the long way and then slice it into 1/2-inch-thick pieces.
● Pat the pork dry so the spice mix will stick to it.
● If you’ve got a nonstick skillet, use it: anytime you’re cooking with honey, nonstick is a help.
● Choose a bright, strong mustard for the dis h. I use Dijon, but you could use a combination of Dijon and a grainy mustard.
● The same ingredients and techniques will work with the other white meat: chicken. They’ll even be good with fish, if you choose a firm-fleshed one, such as monkfish or swordfish; scallops would also work.
With all the time you’ve saved making this dish, you could spend more time on a go-along grain, on making dessert or on patting yourself on the back for being a swell cook.
Greenspan will host her Just Ask Dorie chat from 1 to 2 p.m. Wednesday: live.washingtonpost.com.
The recipe doubles or triples easily.
From cookbook author Dorie Greenspan.
One-pound piece pork tenderloin, trimmed of silver skin and excess fat
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, or more as needed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Freshly ground black pepper
White sesame seeds, for serving (optional)
Chopped cilantro and/or parsley, for serving
Cut the meat in half lengthwise, then cut it crosswise into slices about 1/2-inch thick. Pat the slices dry with paper towels, then toss them into a mixing bowl.
Combine the chili powder, ginger, cumin, curry powder and the 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a small bowl, then sprinkle the mixture over the pork, tossing to coat evenly.
Heat the oil in a large skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the pork and cook for a minute or so, turning the pieces so they brown lightly all sides.
Pour in the honey, stir to coat the meat and cook for 1 minute. Add the vinegar, quickly followed by the water; stir to deglaze the pan, dislodging any browned bits. Reduce the heat to medium-low; whisk in the mustard to form a smooth sauce, cooking and whisking for a few minutes, just until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat.
Taste, and season lightly with salt and/or pepper; it will probably need both.
Transfer to a serving platter; sprinkle with the sesame seeds, if using, and the cilantro and/or parsley. Serve warm.
Nutrition | Per serving: 250 calories, 23 g protein, 20 g carbohydrates, 10 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 55 mg cholesterol, 650 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 17 g sugar
Recipe tested by Bonnie S. Benwick; email questions to email@example.com
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