In my opinion, fennel is the most underrated vegetable there is. I discovered fennel a few years ago, and have been hooked ever since. It is contagious too – I remember telling a good friend of mine about the roasted fennel I made, so she made it one night. She was hooked, and couldn’t get enough of it. Yes, it is on the more expensive side, but so well worth it – especially when roasted with pork. This is one of my favorite recipes from Gourmet – even though it only came out about 9 months ago, I have made it at least a few times. The crushed fennel seed rub on the pork really knocks it out of the park. I have adapted the recipe slightly for temperature and cooking time.
- 1 tsp fennel seeds (or better yet, ground fennel)
- 1 lb. pork tenderloin
- 2 medium fennel bulbs, trimmed, reserving fronds
- 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1/4 C dry white wine
- 1/2 C reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 2 T unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice, or to taste
Preheat oven to 375 with rack in middle.
Crush fennel seeds with a mortar and pestle if you feel like your arms need a good work-out. If you are lucky enough to have a mini-cuisinart, use this to grind the seeds – also, a coffee grinder would work as well – just don’t plan on grinding coffee in it afterwards. If you can find ground fennel seeds in the store – you just won the jack-pot.
Pat pork dry, then sprinkle with crushed fennel seeds and 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper. Cut fennel bulbs lengthwise into 1/2-inch wedges.
Heat oil in a 12-inch oven-proof heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Brown pork on all sides, about 6 minutes total, then transfer to a plate. Sauté garlic and fennel wedges in skillet until fennel is golden brown, about 6 minutes. Add wine, stirring and scraping up brown bits, then stir in broth and butter. Put pork on top of fennel and transfer skillet to oven. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into center of pork registers 145 to 150°F, about 25 minutes. Transfer pork to a cutting board and let rest 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, transfer skillet to stove top (handle will be hot) and boil, stirring occasionally, until most of liquid has evaporated. Stir in lemon juice and 1/4 cup chopped fennel fronds. Thinly slice pork and serve over fennel with sauce.
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