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QUICK FIX

The Gin Tonic

September 24, 1997|MAY PARICH | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

I love food that's simple, requires little preparation and yet is a bit unusual. A friend and I were discussing possible ingredient combinations and menu ideas when he remembered a dish he had made that required little more than a pork tenderloin and gin.

An interesting idea, but I don't like gin. Not to worry, he said, you don't need to like gin to like this dish.

And he was right. The pork is tender and juicy with a pleasant, slightly juniper-like flavor. A little cumin in the marinade rounds out the flavors, and the cucumber salad--tangy and crisp--is the perfect foil.

The cucumber-pork duo stuffed in whole wheat pitas and topped with yogurt sauce makes for a meal that is full of different textures and flavors and is a cinch to prepare.

Menu (30 MINUTES OR LESS)

Pork Tenderloin

and Tangy Cucumber Pita With Yogurt Sauce

Countdown

30 minutes before: Slice pork. Make marinade and begin marinating.

25 minutes before: Prepare cucumbers.

20 minutes before: Make yogurt sauce.

15 minutes before: Remove pork medallions from marinade and season. Begin sauteing.

5 minutes before: Halve and stuff pitas.

Ingredients

Shopping List

1 package pita bread

1 European or 2 pickling cucumbers

1 (750-ml) bottle gin

1 (1- to 1 1/4-pound) pork tenderloin

1 (12-ounce) bottle tarragon vinegar

1 (8-ounce) carton plain yogurt

Staples

Cumin

Vegetable oil

Pepper

Salt

PORK TENDERLOIN AND TANGY CUCUMBER PITA

1 (1- to 1 1/4-pound) pork tenderloin

1/2 cup gin

1 1/4 teaspoons cumin

1 seedless or 2 pickling cucumbers

Salt, pepper

1/4 cup tarragon vinegar

1 cup plain yogurt

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons oil

2 pitas

Trim excess fat from tenderloin. Slice tenderloin on bias into 12 medallions about 1/2-inch thick.

Combine gin and 1 teaspoon cumin in shallow dish. Add pork medallions, cover and marinate in refrigerator 15 minutes.

Slice cucumber into 1/8-inch rounds. Season with salt and pepper to taste and toss with vinegar. Let rest at least 10 minutes. Combine yogurt, garlic and remaining 1/4 teaspoon cumin. Set aside.

Remove pork from marinade and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and heat until oil just begins to smoke. Saute pork medallions until lightly browned, about 2 minutes per side. Saute in 2 batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding.

Cut each pita in half. Stuff each pocket evenly with pork, cucumbers and yogurt sauce.

4 servings. Each serving:

367 calories; 321 mg sodium; 63 mg cholesterol; 13 grams fat; 24 grams carbohydrates; 25 grams protein; 0.54 gram fiber.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Short Cuts

*To save time, ask your butcher to slice the pork tenderloin.

*A mandoline or a food processor with a slicing attachment makes it easy to thinly slice the cucumber.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Cook's Tips

Seedless cucumbers are often called European cucumbers. Like pickling cucumbers, they do not need to be peeled. Cucumbers with waxy skins and bitter seeds need to be peeled and seeded.

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