Forget about pork chops, pork roast or even those tasty baby back ribs. There is another cut of pork that is healthy, cooks quickly and is chock full of protein and vitamins.

Pork tenderloin, which should not be confused with pork loin, is thin and flavorful and can be prepared and on the table in less than 30 minutes.

Tenderloin is a boneless cut of meat and can be purchased plain or marinated in a variety of flavors, such as mesquite, garlic or teriyaki. If cooked correctly, which means cooking it quickly, it is an extremely tender cut of pork. Unflavored tenderloins can be flavored with a variety of spices and work well with many kinds of marinades.

Some tenderloins are sold with the silver skin still on the meat. This is a light gray connective tissue and should be removed before cooking. To remove it, slide a knife under the silver skin and gently, but firmly, pull the skin off the meat.

This lean cut of meat can be fried, baked, broiled or even grilled. The trick here is not to overcook the meat. Overcooking the tenderloin will dry it out and make it tough and chewy. Using a meat thermometer is a great tool to avoid overcooking. The tenderloin should reach a temperature of 145 degrees.

However, pork - like most other meats - will continue to cook after being removed from the oven or grill. So it should be removed when the internal temperature reaches 135 to 140 degrees. Once removed from heat it should be set on a plate and allowed to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

This is all that is required to get that internal temperature up to 145 degrees. Cutting the meat to test for doneness is not recommended as it will allow the rich juices to flow out.

Get out of your comfort zone when cooking pork. These are great dishes for weeknights as they cook quickly; and when paired with a potato or green vegetable, you will have your family’s meal on the table in the time it takes to watch the evening news. Happy Eating!

A Bit of Maple Tenderloin

  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup maple syrup (pure, do not use pancake syrup)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • Nonstick cooking spray

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray the bottom of a baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

If necessary, remove the silver skin from the tenderloin and trim any excess fat. Pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the salt, pepper and garlic powder evenly on the tenderloin.

Place a large skillet on the stove, add the olive oil and heat to medium heat. Add the pork and cook just until lightly browned on all sides.

While the pork is cooking, mix the maple syrup, Dijon mustard and vinegar in a small bowl or measuring cup. Mix until well blended.

Remove the pork from the skillet and place into the prepared baking pan. Bush the maple mixture over the entire pork tenderloin. Place into the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove and spoon the pan drippings over the tenderloin. Check the temperature and if not at 135 degrees, return to the oven and cook an additional 5 to 10 minutes, just until the internal temperature hits 135. Remove from oven and let sit in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes.

Slice and put on to individual serving plates. Spoon the drippings over the sliced pieces and serve immediately.

Easy Grilled Tenderloin

  • 1 1/2- to 2-pound pork tenderloin
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons honey

Pat the tenderloin dry with paper towels

In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, seasonings, olive oil, mustard, vinegar and honey. Mix well.

Place half the marinade in a resealable plastic bag or a bowl with a tight fitting cover. Add the pork and turn over so it is well coated. Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes to 2 hours. Remove from refrigerator and let warm up for 15 minutes before cooking.

Heat a grill to medium heat. Spray the racks with nonstick cooking spray or wipe them with a paper towel coated with canola oil.

Place the pork on the grill. Close the lid. After 5 minutes open the lid, turn the pork and brush some of the remaining marinade on the pork. Close the lid and cook another 5 minutes. Again, remove the lid, turn the pork and baste with marinade. Close the lid and cook 5 to 8 minutes. Remove the cover and check the temperature of the pork. If not up to 135 degrees, cook an additional 3 to 5 minutes, until 135 is reached.

Remove from heat and let the pork sit for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing and serving.