Spiced Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with Squash & Apples

“This tastes like Fall!”

That’s what Mike said about this recipe, which is exactly what I was going for.

Cinnamon, brown sugar, and nutmeg. Salty bacon and tender pork. Sweet squash and apples. I’d say this is Autumn in a Pan, and is completely Thanksgiving-worthy.

Make the bacon-wrapped pork the night before, and you can easily throw everything in the pan and cook it while you entertain guests. A meat thermometer (get one here) ensures perfect doneness and no need to poke and prod at the meat.

Use a large roasting pan if you like, to fit more vegetables. My home was filled with the scent of cinnamon and apples…I buy candles that smell like this!

I served the pork and squash with rice that got a big spoonful of the cooking sauce over the top. Or add sliced potatoes to the pan for a one-pot meal.

No candle necessary for festiveness! Have I mentioned how glad I am it’s Fall/Autumn/Festive Food Time/Good Hair Weather?

Spiced Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with Squash & Apples

for the roast:

  • 2 pounds whole pork tenderloin (2 loins)
  • 1 pound bacon
  • 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 wooden skewers, cut to 4-5 inches long

for the vegetables:

  • 1 sweet dumpling squash, seeded and cut into wedges
  • 1 large red delicious apple, cored and cut into chunks
  • 2-3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • juice of 1/4 lemon

for the glaze:

  • 2 large garlic cloves, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 425°F (400°F convection).

Set roasts out on counter for 30 minutes before preparing. Rub roasts all over with chili powder, oregano, salt and pepper. Use skewers to hold roasts together. Wrap bacon slices, one at a time, around pork, ends on the bottom, slices slightly overlapping. Lightly oil a large skillet, and place pork in center of pan. If desired, sear off bottom of roast over medium heat while you slice the vegetables.

Carefully cut the squash into wedges, using the ridges as a guide. Cut the apple into large chunks (peel if desired). In a large zip-top bag, add squash and apple and toss with canola oil, cinnamon, and lemon. Add to the pan with the pork roast, insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part and transfer to the oven.

Meanwhile, prepare the glaze. Add all ingredients to a small saucepan and simmer over low heat, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens and bubbles form but pop slowly, 30-45 minutes. Strain out garlic (yield about 1/2 cup sauce). Pour over the top of the roast and vegetables about halfway through cooking.

Roast 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until an internal temperature of 135°F is reached. Broil 5 minutes if needed to brown the bacon. Enjoy!


Curried Pork Loin Chops with Brown Butter & Coconut Rice

Featured on Food & Wine Magazine’s Instagram account for #thisisfall, September 2014

When I made these chops, Mike took one look and asked, “Are those steaks?”

Ah, dear friends, the power of a good sear.

These are so flavorful, you’ll fall over when you take your first bite.

And they’re so easy, you’ll never get back up. (But you should, so you can make them again.)

I brine the meat first to make sure it’s extra tender (directions below).

Melt the butter over medium heat. Add the pork chops.

Don’t touch ’em. Don’t disturb ’em. For like 10 minutes.

When the meat is nice and golden, flip them. I strongly suggest using a meat thermometer to get these babies to just the right temperature (135°F). After your first flip, stick the thermometer into the middle of one of the chops and watch the temperature. Overcooking is the death of pork chops!

Pork loin chops have a nice big medallion of meat attached to the bone – get them if you can. They might be called “center cut” – same thing. 1/2-inch or thicker, please.

For reference, these three chops weighed 1 3/4 pounds uncooked; so they were a little over 9 ounces each.

This is one instance where a little crowding in the pan is a good thing, to keep the butter bubbling around the meat (this was a 10-inch nonstick Scanpan). I don’t have a cast iron fry pan, or I’d have used it!

Once the proper temperature is reached, spoon the butter over the chops (it will be nice and browned by this point).

I served these with coconut rice and a Caesar salad. The rice recipe is in the notes below.

Super, extra, mondo deliciousness.

2014-09-23 18.32.26

Curried Pork Loin Chops with Brown Butter & Coconut Rice

  • 3 thick cut (1/2-3/4 inch) pork loin chops, bone-in
  • 2-3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 lemon
  • salt

for the brine:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1/4 cup salt

for the spice rub:

  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (or substitute paprika if you don’t want the heat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

coconut rice:

  • 1 cup uncooked white rice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil (if you don’t have this, use 2 cups of coconut milk and omit the water)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • handful of fresh cilantro, finely chopped

Dissolve the salt in water for the brine in a dish big enough to submerge the pork chops completely. Add the chops, cover, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes – an hour or two is ideal.

Just before removing the chops from the fridge: mix the uncooked rice, water, coconut milk, coconut oil and salt in a pan. Heat to boiling, reduce to low, cover, and let simmer 20 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. (You can also heat the coconut oil in the pan, lightly brown the rice, then add the water, coconut milk, and salt. Bring to a boil and reduce to low, simmering 20 minutes. This adds a nice flavor to the rice.)

Remove the chops from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt.

Mix the curry powder, chili powder, salt, pepper, and garlic powder in a small bowl. Put about 1/2 teaspoon of this mix on each chop and rub all over with your fingers. Flip them over and do the same on the other side.

Heat a 10-inch pan over medium heat, and melt the butter. When the butter begins to bubble, add the chops.

Squeeze the lemon over the chops (not a lot, just a sprinkling). Let the chops cook for about 10 minutes (don’t touch!).

Check to make sure they are browned on the bottom, then flip. Insert a meat thermometer into one of the chops to monitor internal temperature.

Squeeze the lemon over the chops again. Cook another 5-10 minutes, or until thermometer reads 135°F. Spoon butter over chops.

Stir the chopped cilantro into the rice, and serve the chops over the rice. Enjoy!

Crispy Parmesan Pork Chops

Crispy. Healthy. Delicious.

This recipe is all of these things.

Greek yogurt keeps the pork moist and adds flavor. You can use sour cream in a pinch, but stick with the yogurt if you can. And go easy when coating the meat – you only need a thin layer to get the bread crumbs to stick!

Gluten free bread is by nature drier. So, it makes fantastic breading for meats and crisps up perfectly in the oven. Baking the meat first gives it a head start on cooking so you don’t burn the bread crumbs trying to get it baked through. (P.S. – don’t forget to spray the breaded chops with cooking spray before you bake!)

My oven has 5 settings for broil – Lo, 2, 3, 4, Hi. I set it on 3 or 4 to get these chops just right. If you only have one setting, keep the oven door cracked open to help remove some of the heat, and broil on the middle rack.

Of course, regular bread crumbs will work too. But gluten free ones get so crispy! I’m biased.

2014-09-02 18.21.19

[recipe recipe title=”Crispy Parmesan Pork Chops” servings=4-5]

  • 1 1/2 pounds 1/2″ thick boneless pork loin chops (4-5 steaks)
  • cooking spray oil (I use olive oil, any Pam-like spray will work)
  • salt & pepper

for the wet coating:

  • 1 container (5-6 ounces) fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

for the dry coating:

  • 2/3 cup gluten free Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (the kind in the can)

Preheat your oven to 400°F. Place the oven rack on the second highest notch.

In a bowl, combine yogurt and spices. Stir to combine.

On a large plate, combine bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Mix well.

Salt and pepper both sides of the pork chops. One at a time, spoon a small amount of the yogurt onto a pork chop and smooth over. Flip over in your hand and coat underside.

Drop yogurt-covered chop into the breading and coat well. Shake off excess and place on a baking sheet lined with either silicone or parchment paper (if you don’t do this, you risk your breading staying on the pan when you flip them!).

Don’t forget to spray them with cooking oil now!

Bake for 10 minutes, then switch to a medium broil. Watch them – it will take about 5 minutes for the breadcrumbs to start to brown. If they begin to burn, move the oven rack to the center position. Remove from oven, flip chops over. Spray with cooking oil and brown the other side as well, another 5 minutes.

I serve them with spaghetti, then sprinkle dried parsley and a little more Parmesan cheese on top. Enjoy![/recipe]

Slow-Roasted Spanish Pork “Lechon Asado” for Cuban Sandwiches

I must confess: I need an intervention.

A pork intervention, because I just ate half this roast as I sliced it.

Simple but delicious, a testament to how good simple can be.

The raw marinade ingredients, when pureed, give off puffs of pungent cilantro and cumin. Your home is filled with these aromas as it cooks.

This, friends, is my Spanish Pork recipe.

I developed it with guidance from a Cuban friend (gracias, Abe) and over time tried different combinations to get it just right. And here it is. Use the resulting pork for Cuban sandwiches like I do, or just cut it into big slabs and add some rice and fried plantains!



Here’s the recipe!


Spanish-Style Roast Pork, Lechón Asado

2 1/2 pound pork butt or 4 pound picnic pork

For the marinade:

  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro with stems (about 1 cup)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup orange juice or lime juice

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Pulse the marinade ingredients until chunky.  Lightly salt the pork all over, then coat with all of the marinade.  Cover with foil and roast for 2 hours covered, plus one hour uncovered, or until roast is beginning to fall apart (more time will be needed for the bone-in picnic pork).

Remove from oven, recover with foil and let rest 10-30 minutes before slicing.

To make Cuban sandwiches you’ll need regular yellow mustard, Virginia ham, dill pickles, mayonnaise, Swiss cheese, butter and a loaf of Cuban bread (and the roast pork of course!). Assemble the sandwich and grill in butter in a pan until heated through and crispy, smashing it flat with a heavy lid (or book, or whatever you have), flipping once. Slice in half, then those halves in half again diagonally.


Spanish Pulled Pork Tacos “Tacos al Pastor”

This is my version of the “el Pastor” street taco…simple and delicious, it just takes a little while to cook.  If you are patient it will be so worth it!

The resulting pork is savory and melt-in-your-mouth delicious.  Use it as filling for tacos, burritos, or even put it on a bun and top it with barbecue sauce!

I like to serve mine with diced onion and fresh cilantro, or fresh pico de gallo.  Let me know how you modify this recipe or what else you like to serve with your pork tacos!

I use a 3-4 pound “picnic pork” that’s bone-in, but any large chunk of pork will work.  Just make sure there’s a good amount of fat on it.

I’ve learned over time that the beauty of Spanish food is it’s simplicity: orange and lime juice, along with some garlic, water, and salt are all you need.


Spanish Pulled Pork Tacos, Tacos al Pastor

  • 3-4 pound “picnic pork”, or other fatty cut
  • 1 1/2 cups orange juice (bitter is better)
  • juice of 1 lime
  • about 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
  • enough water to cover pork halfway (usually 3-5 cups)

Smash garlic cloves but leave them mostly whole or in big pieces.

Salt the pork and place in a large, heavy pot with a tight fitting lid.  Add orange juice, lime juice, water and garlic cloves.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to a simmer and cover tightly.  Rotate roast every 30 minutes to ensure all sides steep in the orange/lime mixture.

After about 2 hours – or when the meat is falling apart – remove the bone and any gristle.  With the pot’s lid half on, return to a boil, lower the temperature to medium and slowly simmer away the liquid – but don’t burn the meat!

Shred or coarsely chop the meat.

Serve with warmed corn (or flour) tortillas, fresh pico de gallo or diced onions and cilantro.  You can also roll up in a burrito or put on a bun and pour barbecue sauce on top!  Enjoy!