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    sunday supper

    Mexican spiced pork one day, tacos the next

    Mexican spiced pork tenderloin.
    Sally Pasley Vargas
    Mexican spiced pork tenderloin.

    A Mexican-inspired spice paste, highlighting the smoky, mild flavor of ancho chilies, adds plenty of flavor to lean, pink, and juicy pork tenderloins. Ever since 2011, when the USDA lowered its recommended internal temperature for pork tenderloin to 145 degrees (with a three-minute resting period) you don’t have to settle for tough, dry meat. All kinds of pickled vegetables, most famously jalapenos, are an integral part of the Mexican table. Here we underscore the Mexican theme with onions and cabbage in a light pickle to go with the pork.

    Save one of the tenderloins for a healthy version of carnitas, traditionally consisting of fatty bits of pork rendered crisp and golden in pork fat. Saute the meat until it turns crisp, add some with the pickle to warmed corn tortillas. Garnish with avocado, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime and you get similar, guilt-free results.

    Shopping list

    (Pork tenderloins, tacos)


    3 pork tenderloins

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    3 tablespoons orange juice

    ½ head red cabbage

    1 large white onion

    2 avocados


    2 jalapenos

    1 bunch fresh cilantro

    2 limes

    2 oranges

    1 clove garlic


    ¼ cup olive oil

    12 (5-inch) corn tortillas

    Salt and pepper

    1 cup distilled white vinegar

    ¾ cup sugar

    3 tablespoons slivered almonds

    2 tablespoons ancho chili powder

    1 teaspoon dried oregano

    1 teaspoon dried cumin

    Sally Pasley Vargas can be reached at sally