Pork is so popular now that it occupies nearly as much space as chicken in grocery stores. Unlike the pork of yore, today’s pigs have been bred to be lean, which makes pork a healthy choice—and also makes it trickier to cook. It dries out when overcooked, so make sure to use an instant-read thermometer to cook it just to the right temperature, and always let the meat rest before serving it (more tips on getting juicy results with pork below). Cuts like tenderloin, loin and sirloin from the middle section of the pig rival skinless chicken breast in percentage of fat, but have a richer, more delicious flavor. Plus you can now buy natural pork raised without hormones and antibiotics (see Pork Buyer's Guide).
Because of its pleasant, mild flavor, pork is versatile enough to go with everything from sweet fruits to stronger flavors like vinegar, chiles, garlic, soy and ginger. On a global scale, it is the most-often-eaten meat and is the preferred meat in German, Spanish, Italian, Chinese and many other cuisines.
Pork can find a home on your family’s weekday menus but also act as the centerpiece for special occasions. When you are in a hurry—turn to cuts that cook up quickly, such as rib chops, pork tenderloins and pork cutlets. When you have company—go with loin roasts, pork chops and pork tenderloins garnished with special ingredients like porcini mushrooms or Parma ham. For more informal entertaining, you can choose an ethnic theme and make pork recipes and accompaniments that stay within that cuisine. You'll find a bit of everything below: two different stuffed pork tenderloins for fancier entertaining, two ethnic pork recipes packed with flavor (one Cuban pork and one Moroccan pork) and two quicker pork recipes, one for pork chops paired with apples and another for thin medallions of pork tenderloin with a quick fig sauce.