Lemon-pepper pork that should have been chicken

Lemon pepper roasted pork tenderloin recipe features coarse black pepper, kosher salt, dried thyme, garlic powder and lemon zest. (AP Photo)

This is the pork tenderloin that was supposed to be a chicken. But it ended up being one of those delicious mistakes I was so glad I made.

I was aiming for a roasted whole chicken that was rubbed under and over the skin with a potent blend of coarse black pepper, kosher salt, dried thyme, garlic powder and lemon zest. Then I’d drizzle it with oil and pop it in the oven. When it came out, I was planning to squeeze the lemon juice over the crisp skin. I could already smell it.

And that was the problem. I pulled the chicken out of the refrigerator and started to unwrap it. The smell hit me hard. The chicken was spoiled. And I didn’t have a spare.

But I did have a bowl full of the lemon-pepper seasoning I’d made. To make the best of it, I grabbed the only other fresh meat I had on hand – a large pork tenderloin. I rubbed, oiled, roasted and drizzled it just as I’d been planning for the chicken. It was outrageously good, tangy and savory and salty with a nice bite from the pepper.

No idea if the seasoning mix will make a good chicken. Still haven’t tested that, but this pork recipe will make you glad I didn’t.

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Serve this pork tenderloin with a side of roasted new potatoes. Toss them with olive oil, smoked paprika, salt and pepper, then roast at the same temperature as the pork for 20 minutes, or until tender. You can even roast them on the same baking sheet. Just arrange the potatoes on one half, roast for about 5 minutes, then add the pork to the other half of the pan and continue roasting. Just before serving the potatoes, squeeze a little of the lemon juice over them at the same time as you do the pork.

LEMON-PEPPER ROASTED PORK TENDERLOIN

Start to finish: 25 minutes

Servings: 4

2 lemons, zested

1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. dried thyme

1 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 1/2-lb. pork tenderloin

Heat the oven to 425. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.

In a small bowl, mix together the lemon zest, salt, thyme, garlic powder and black pepper.

Drizzle the olive oil over the pork tenderloin, then rub to coat evenly. Sprinkle the lemon zest mixture evenly over all sides of the tenderloin. Set the pork on the prepared baking sheet, then roast for 15 minutes, or until it reaches 145 F at the center. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes, then slice into 1/2-inch-thich slices.

Squeeze the lemons over the sliced pork and serve immediately.

Nutrition information per serving: 220 calories; 60 calories from fat (27 percent of total calories); 7 g fat (1.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 110 mg cholesterol; 1 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 0 g sugar; 36 g protein; 810 mg sodium.

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