Cooking for one can be singularly satisfying

Posted Oct. 04, 2011, at 5:13 p.m.

Cooking meals or downsizing recipes to serve one or two is a big issue for many cooks.

But if you have the right strategies in place, it doesn’t have to be, says Pete Loren, director of culinary development for Nino Salvaggio’s International Marketplace stores.

Loren, who is single, has found that many singles have flexible schedules but tend not to spend a lot of time cooking because they think it’s a chore.

“When they do cook, they feel the time spent doing it doesn’t justify the reward,” says Loren.

His cooking demonstration and lecture will focus on a multiplan approach that includes having ready-to-cook options in your refrigerator or freezer and some quick 20-minute meals.

“It’s really strategies for meal preparation, not just a cooking class but also how to do meal prep at home,” Loren says.

One strategy is to make sauces, then freeze them and scoop them out like ice cream when you need to.

Loren has several sauces in his freezer, including a chicken gravy-type sauce made from the carcass of a leftover rotisserie chicken, a lobster sauce made from a lobster base with a little cream or sherry added and a Thai peanut curry sauce.

These sauces can turn a bland dry piece of chicken into a restaurant-quality dish.

In the pantry, having a good chicken or beef base is handy for making sauces and soups. And have soy or teriyaki sauces on hand for making stir-fries.

“Also have one or two jars of good pasta sauce that you like,” says Loren. “You can use it for Italian dishes or thin it to make soup.”

Loren says he doesn’t expect a single person to have a sack of potatoes.

“But you can slice up some peppers and onions, saute them and freeze them,” says Loren.

The idea, Loren says, is that you can come home, “take something out of the freezer, quickly saute it along with a protein and have a meal.”

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Char-crusted BBQ pork tenderloin medallions

Serves: 2-4 / Preparation time: 10 minutes / Total time: 20 minutes

This recipe makes enough for one or two with generous leftovers. Look for Char Crust seasoning blend in the meat counter at some grocery stores.

4 strips bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces

1 green onion, cut into ¼-inch pieces on the diagonal

¾ cup cooked, cooled red skin potatoes sliced ¼-inch thick

¼ cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)

¼ cup heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

1 pork tenderloin (about 12 to 14 ounces)

2 tablespoons Char Crust seasoning (hickory flavor) or favorite meat rub

2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil

½ cup Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue sauce

You will need two skillets for this recipe, one for the red skin potato dish and one for the pork. Set each one over medium heat.

In one pan, add the bacon and cook until almost crisp, leaving the grease in the pan. Add green onion and saute one minute. Add potato slices and corn and cook 2 to 3 minutes longer. The potato will brown a little. Add cream and cheese and bring to a simmer. The mixture will thicken. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Meanwhile, cut the pork tenderloin in 3/4- to 1-inch disks and flatten slightly. You should have 8 medallions.

Season each medallion on both sides with the Char Crust seasoning. In the other skillet, heat the oil over medium heat and sear pork medallions on both sides or until the pork is nearly cooked through.

Place 1 to 2 teaspoons barbecue sauce over the top of each medallion and turn them over so that the sauce is now under the meat and sizzling under each medallion. Cook about 1 minute.

Turn medallions over and cook a few moments longer. Divide the potato-corn recipe between 2 plates and top each with pork medallions.

From Chef Pete Loren, and tested by Susan M. Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen. Analysis based on 4 servings

412 calories (44 percent from fat), 20 grams fat (6 grams sat. fat), 25 grams carbohydrates, 32 grams protein, 648 mg sodium, 103 mg cholesterol, 1 gram fiber.

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