Thursday, January 05, 2012

Fennel-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Fennel Wedges

Oh my goodness, this is a good one. I got two new cookbooks for Christmas that have completely rekindled my interest and excitement about cooking and being in the kitchen. This recipe is from neither of the new books — ha! The fennel seeds with the pork is a wonderful combination that smells like sausage while it's cooking, while being quite a bit healthier. And the fennel wedges become nicely caramelized and melt in your mouth. I served this over simple mashed potatoes. I left the skins on and mashed with some skim milk. You don't need to overly season or butter them because the sauce is very rich and flavorful. You could also serve with white or jasmine rice, egg noodles, couscous, or just about any grain.

Before I move on to the recipe, I want to direct your attention to the tabs at the top of the page here under the banner. I've added a recipe index there for your (and my) convenience. I've been wanting to do this forever and took some downtime over the holidays to cut and paste it all there. It still needs a bit of tweaking in terms of categorization, but it's a start. I welcome your suggestions and ideas on its format and hope that it proves useful to you! 

1 tsp fennel seeds
1 lb pork tenderloin
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 yellow onion, trimmed and peeled
2 large fennel bulbs, trimmed, reserving 1/4 cup of fronds
2 Tb extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, smashed, then roughly chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 Tb unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 tsp fresh lemon juice, or to taste

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.

Crush fennel seeds with a mortar and pestle (or wrap in a kitchen towel and crush with bottom of a heavy skillet). Add salt and pepper and stir to combine.

Pat pork dry, then sprinkle with crushed fennel seed mixture. Pat mixture gently to make sure the pork is well coated.

Cut onion in half and then into 1/2-inch wedges. 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 to 8 minutes total, then transfer to a plate. Sauté garlic, onion and fennel wedges in skillet until fennel is golden brown, about 6 to 8 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 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer pork to a cutting board and let rest 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, transfer skillet to stovetop (handle will be hot) and boil, stirring occasionally, until much of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in lemon juice and fennel fronds, chopped. Thinly slice pork and serve over fennel with sauce.

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