We are big pork fans. Pork BBQ, pork sandwiches, shredded pork, diced pork, bacon, the list goes on and on. We even eat honeybaked ham for Thanksgiving and Christmas, not turkey! I love how versatile pork is and how easy it is to stretch one roast or tenderloin into three dinners, plus a few lunches. It is definitely an affordable protein for a family.
That said, I am very aware of health and environmental issues surrounding commerical pork farming. I’ve read some pretty scary stuff about recalls of imported pork and the living conditions at commercial farms. A few weeks ago I went to our farmer’s market and picked up a 3# pork roast from a local farmer who raises pastured pigs. The farm is about an hour away and the animals get sunshine and grass (or whatever the Florida “soil” will grow), and no antibiotics. I was thrilled to buy the meat, but it cost $21 and gave us one meal. Plus, the roast wasn’t boneless so I was paying for a 3# roast, but was only getting about 2#.
After that experiment, I decided pasture raised pork, as wonderful as it is, was not in the budget. At least not now. So, back to Publix where I can buy cheap cuts for the slow cooker, or expensive cuts even when they aren’t on sale, that will give us several dinners.
Here’s the process I use to cook two pork tenderloins, inspired by the Hispanic side of my family:
- First, make the rub. I use:
- Zest of 2 limes (organic if possible)
- Zest of 1 orange (organic if possible)
- A few garlic cloves, minced
- Coarse salt, pepper
- Other spices – Oregano, parsley, whatever you like
- Rub the mixture on the pork
- I cook at 325 until the thickest part reaches 145. Last time it was about an hour. I’m sure every chef on Top Chef would be appalled saying I am way overcooking and removing all the flavor from the pork. My response – I follow USDA guidelines for cooked meat.
Dinner #1: Cuban Sandwich
I have been making my version of Cuban sandwiches since my first trip to Miami back in 2001 (woa, long time ago). If you want a “real” Cuban sandwich, Miami is the place to get one. If you want to make one at home, google Cuban sandwich or medianoche and you will get tons of hits. My version uses pork tenderloin cooked in the above manner, ham (if I have any), some kind of cheese, and bread. No pickle..lo siento! I use my panini press to smoosh the sandwiches and melt the cheese, but back in college I cooked the sandwiches on a skillet and pressed with my tea kettle. A cast iron skillet would work too! I have been adding my cilantro pesto because I think it makes the sandwiches extra delicioso, but plain is good too. Everyone eats this in our house.
Dinners #2 and #3: Diced pork over rice/beans, or potatoes
I dice up some pork, saute in some olive oil and serve over rice and beans. I now make rice with my homemade chicken stock! We spoon homemade chimichurri on top. Mmmmm.
And sometimes I dice up the pork, and throw in a skillet with some diced potatoes I cooked in the oven. It’s good with ketchup, kind of a breakfast hash, for dinner
So, two tenderloins (one package) gives us three full dinners, and I put diced pork in the toddler’s lunch all week. All for $14-18, for the protein part (less if on sale). Since the pork is so inexpensive, it leaves me more room in our budget for other high quality ingredients.
Do you have favorite pork tenderloin recipes? I’m always looking for more! Happy eating.