Due to its association with high-fat meats such as bacon, sausage and spare ribs, pork has gotten a bad rap over the years. Thanks to changes in breeding and feeding practices, many pork cuts are significantly lower in fat than they were 20 years ago.
In fact, a 3-ounce cooked serving of pork tenderloin has the same amount of saturated fat as a skinless chicken breast.
Nutritionally speaking, pork provides high-quality protein and is an excellent source of several B vitamins, which helps the body produce energy and selenium, a mineral essential for a healthy immune system and thyroid gland.
When incorporating pork into a healthy eating plan, consider the following:
■ Look for the word “loin” when selecting leaner cuts of pork such as, top loin chop (now called New York pork chop), top loin roast (now called New York pork roast), loin chop (now called porterhouse pork chop), sirloin chop, or tenderloin as used in today’s recipe.
■ Stick to a 3- or 4-ounce cooked portion size. A 3-ounce portion looks like the size of a deck of cards.
■ Trim visible fat before cooking.
■ Prepare it by baking, broiling or grilling.
Unless you prefer pork well done, do not overcook it. A few years ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture updated its guidelines for cooking whole cuts of pork. The new recommended internal temperature is 145 degrees, provided the meat is allowed to rest off the heat source, for 3 minutes before serving. This safe temperature leaves the meat juicy with a pink blush in the middle.
The temperature change does not apply to ground meats, including beef, veal, lamb and pork, which should be cooked to 160 degrees. Poultry should be cooked to 165 degrees. The only reliable indicator of safe meat temperature is a food thermometer. For the most accurate reading, place a digital food thermometer in the thickest part of meat, not allowing it to touch the bone.
Darlene Zimmerman is a registered dietitian in Henry Ford Hospital’s Heart Vascular Institute. For questions about today’s recipe, call 313-972-1920.
Sriracha Pork and Peppers
Makes: 7 servings / Preparation time: 15 minutes (plus marinating time) / Total time: 45 minutes
Partially freeze the pork tenderloin or chops to make it easier to cut into cubes.
1 cup water
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons sriracha sauce or to taste
4 tablespoons hoisin sauce, divided
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons grated gingerroot
1 clove garlic, peeled, minced
3 tablespoons cornstarch, divided
20 ounces pork tenderloin or boneless pork loin chops
3 tablespoons peanut or canola oil, divided
5 cups assorted bell peppers (red, green, yellow), cut into 3/4-inch pieces
42/3 cups cooked brown rice, prepared without salt or oil
1/4 cup sliced green onion
In a large jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine water, brown sugar, sriracha sauce, 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce, vinegar, gingerroot, garlic and 2 tablespoons cornstarch. Shake until well blended; set aside.
Trim any excess fat from pork and cut into 3/4-inch cubes. Place cubed pork in a bowl and sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon cornstarch and toss to coat. Add remaining 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce to pork and toss to coat.
Cover and marinate in the refrigerator at least two hours or overnight. In a large wok, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add the pork and stir-fry 3 to 5 minutes. Remove pork from wok and cover. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to wok and cook bell peppers 4 to 5 minutes. Return pork and any juices to the wok with peppers. Add brown sugar sriracha sauce, stirring to loosen the fond on the bottom of the wok. Continue to cook, allowing sauce to bubble and thicken, an additional 3 to 5 minutes.
Serve over cooked rice and garnish with sliced green onions. Each serving consists of about 3/4 cup sriracha pork over 2/3 cup of brown rice.
Created by Darlene Zimmerman, MS, RD, and tested by Susan Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.
445 calories (26% from fat), 13 grams fat (3 grams sat. fat, 0 grams trans fat), 59 grams carbohydrates, 24 grams protein, 243 mg sodium, 61 mg cholesterol, 45 mg calcium, 4 grams fiber. Food exchanges: 3 starch, 2 vegetable, 2 lean meat.