To minimize my chances of getting cancer, I quit smoking as a young man back in the Pleistocene era. Because of similar concerns, I’m that lump in the hammock in the deep shade while everyone else is sunning themselves on the beach. My sense of self-preservation completely breaks down, however, when it comes to meat cooked on a grill.
As we’ve long been told, charring not only makes meat taste really good, it also creates carcinogenic compounds called heterocyclic amines. Scary.
Much to my relief, Kanithaporn Puangsombat and Scott Smith, two researchers at the Food Science Institute at Kansas State University, report in the Journal of Food Science that, because of the herb’s antioxidant qualities, adding rosemary extract to beef patties reduced the cancer-causing chemicals in the seared meat by up to 92 percent.
Whew! Rosemary just happens to be the key ingredient in one of my favorite grilled dishes, which appears in Complete Meat Cookbook by Bruce Aidells and Denis Kelly. In the interest of assuring the longevity of readers of this blog, I pass the recipe on with the warning that it has converted at least one vegetarian (a friend’s 11-year-old son) into an omnivore.
Full disclosure: Aidells is an old pal of mine. Fuller disclosure: I set up permanent housekeeping with his book editor many years ago.
Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Rosemary and Fennel Seed Crust
You can also use this savory herb rub with grilled pork chops, lamb chops, or veal chops.
2 pork tenderloins trimmed of silverskin and butterflied by cutting lengthwise down the center, and pounded to a ½-inch thickness.
For the Rub:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fennel seed bruised with the flat side of a knife or with a mortar and pestle
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary or 2 teaspoons dried
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
Spread the meat on a plate and rub the olive oil on both sides. Combine the remaining ingredients and rub the mixture all over the pork, pressing it into the meat and crevices. Let the tenderloins rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
Grill the tenderloins over medium-high coals for 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature registers 145 degrees to 150 degrees. Let them rest, covered lightly with foil for 5 minutes. Serve ½ tenderloin per person.