Spanish Seared Pork Bites with buttery Fried Apples has quickly become a weeknight staple in our home. Bite size pieces of pork tenderloin are coated in a Spanish inspired dry rub, sautéed quickly in oil until tender and juicy, then tossed with lemon juice, honey, olive oil, and fresh oregano.
Pork Bites are delicious all on their own, served as a quick, light supper or tapas-style dish. But, they are positively mouthwatering when eaten with green apples that have been sautéed in butter and brown sugar.
How to cook pork tenderloin in about 8 minutes:
Let me first say that I love, love, love pork tenderloin. When cooked right, it's tender, flavorful, and juicy. It's also conveniently boneless, and can be roasted whole, cut into medallions, or cut into pork bites and cooked in about 8 minutes.
It's one of my favorite things to have in our refrigerator.
Just to keep it real, I want to point out that a whole pork tenderloin only takes about 20 minutes to cook.
Cutting it up into bite size pieces and cooking them in a skillet gets the job done faster. But, it's a relative kind of faster and doesn't save you that much time.
Still. There are other super good reasons to chop up that tenderloin into cute little bite-size pieces:
- Cooking small pieces of pork tenderloin at high heat creates a crispy on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside situation in every single bite.
- Cutting pork tenderloin into small-ish pieces means that every bite is completely coated in spices. More spices = more flavor.
- Pork bites are a big dinner kind of meal, a light lunch kind of meal, or a small-plate-tapas kind of meal. It really just matters how many you serve per person.
- Bite size pieces are fun, casual, weeknight fare AND the perfect party food. No need for knives and perfectly self portioning. The hungry people will take a lot and the not so hungry people can take a bite or two.
Pork Bites, in 4 super basic steps:
#1. Cut a pork tenderloin into pieces that are about the size of chicken nuggets. Coat the pork bites in a mix of coriander, cumin, paprika, cayenne, salt, and pepper and set them aside for a bit so they have time to absorb all those delicious flavors.
#2. Add some lemon juice, honey, garlic, olive oil, and fresh oregano to a bowl and stir. This simple, flavorful vinaigrette will coat the pork with bright, fresh, sweet and sour flavor. Trust me, trust me, trust me on this step. So. Good.
#3. Cook the pork bites in some olive oil on one side, then the other, until the outside of the pork is all brown and slightly crispy. This whole process takes 6-8 minutes.
#4. Toss the hot pork bites with the honey-lemon-garlic vinaigrette.
Apples, and Butter, and Brown Sugar, oh my
Pork and apples, bread and butter, cake and ice cream. Some things are meant to be served together.
In this situation, we've got tart, green apples cooked in butter and brown sugar until they're so soft and buttery they almost melt on your tongue.
The combination of sweet, buttery apples and spicy, savory, juicy pieces of pork is extraordinary. And the whole process couldn't be simpler:
#1. Heat a bit of butter and oil in the same skillet you used to cook the pork bites. Add slices of green apples and cook them just until they start to brown. Then add more butter and some brown sugar...
#2. And cook the whole delicious mess until the apples are all soft and saucy, and mmmmmmmmmm.
That's it. Scoop all those sweet, buttery apples onto a plate with the pork bites and dinner is served.
Bonus: Pork Bites are just as good at room temperature as they are hot
They might be even better served at room temperature than they are hot out of the pan. So, you can cook the pork bites, set them aside, cook the apples, and not have to worry about keeping the pork warm while you do.
The fact that they're so good at room temperature also makes them ideal to serve as a starter or as a part of a buffet-style spread.
If you give this recipe a try, let me know! Scroll down to rate this recipe, leave a comment, or take a picture and tag it @alittleandalot on Instagram.
For the Pork Bites:
- 1 ½ lbs (24oz) pork tenderloin
- 3 tsp ground coriander
- 3 tsp ground cumin
- 3 tsp smoked paprika
- ⅛ - ¼ tsp cayenne (to taste)
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- 1 ½ tsp kosher salt
- 3 tbsp (44ml) lemon juice
- 3 tbsp (63g) honey
- 1 tbsp (8.6g) minced garlic
- 3 tbsp (45ml) + 2 tbsp (30ml) extra virgin olive oil, divided
- ¼ cup (13g) minced fresh oregano
For the apples:
- 1 tbsp (15ml) extra virgin olive oil (or vegetable or canola oil)
- 1 tbsp (20g) + 3 tbsp (60g) butter
- 2 lbs Granny Smith apples, cored, and cut into slices that are about ¾-inch thick (toss with a teaspoon of lemon juice to keep from browning)
- ¼ cup (50g) packed brown sugar
- About ½ tsp kosher salt
- Cut the pork into 1 ½ inch pieces - about the size of chicken nuggets. Add to a medium size bowl.
- Add the coriander, cumin, paprika, cayenne, black pepper, and salt to a small bowl, stir to combine, and dump it over the pork. Toss the pork in the spice mixture so that each pieces is coated. Let the pork sit at room temp for 30 min or up to 6 hours in the refrigerator.
- Add the lemon juice, honey, garlic, 3 tbsp (45ml) extra virgin olive oil, and oregano to another small bowl. Stir to combine and set aside.
- Add the remaining 2 tbsp oil (30ml) to a large skillet and set it over medium-high heat. When the oil is just barely starting to smoke, add the meat to the pan, spreading it out into a single layer. Cook, without moving the pork until the underside of the pork is browned and the meat releases from the skillet, about 3-4 minutes.
- Turn the pieces over and cook until the pork bites are cooked through and browned all over - another 3-4 minutes.
- Remove the skillet from the heat and pour the honey-oil mixture over the pork bites. Toss to coat, then dump the whole thing onto a plate or serving platter. Let sit at room temp while you cook the apples.
- Wipe out the skillet and set it back over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon (15ml) of oil and 1 tablespoon (20g) of butter to the skillet.
- When the butter has melted, add the apples. Cook, stirring frequently, until they start to brown, 4 - 5 minutes.
- Add the brown sugar and remaining 3 tbsp of butter and stir to mix. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes longer, until the apples are tender but not yet falling apart. Remove from the heat and stir in the salt.
- Scoop the apples onto the tray with the pork bites and serve.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 623Total Fat: 27gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 139mgSodium: 625mgCarbohydrates: 48gFiber: 8gSugar: 35gProtein: 46g