Food & Drink

I'm Chris - or Christopher - or Mr. Dean - or Master Christopher - or just plain Sir. I'm a self-professed foodie. I love to cook and I take great pleasure in all things edible. My husband and I are relatively new to Portland, Oregon and are enjoying our culinary explorations of the area!

Food is NOT just fuel!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Pot-Roasted Pork in White Wine with Garlic, Fennel and Rosemary

In an attempt to prepare meals days in advance (I'm still not used to being able to go to Whole Foods every day on my way home...I'm slowly adjusting), I poured through some cookbooks last week and picked out a bunch of recipes. And then, like the true suburbanite I am, I had the market deliver all of the essential ingredients I would need for each meal. How nice. :)

One recipe that caught my eye was from the book "Happy Days with the Naked Chef" by Jamie Oliver. Jamie is a go-to for me - he's one of my favorite and most dependable chefs. His recipes are fresh and delicious, and this one did not disappoint. The use of fennel in 2 forms (both as seed and as fresh bulb) I thought might be overpowering - especially since keith isn't a great fan of fennel/anise. But when cooked way down and in conjunction with the wine and other spices, the fennel is soft, delicate in flavor and delicious. The meal as a whole has a lightness to it that is unexpected. I served this with a simple saffron rice.

Just a note: the recipe calls for a 3.5 lb. loin of pork. Mine was just under 3 lbs, so I adjusted the cooking time (from 1 1/4 hour to just about 1 hour). Also the recipe suggest you cover the pot with wet wax paper - while this seemed to work, when I checked on the dish at the half way point a lot of the liquid was boiling out because the wax paper was too loose. So I switched to a loose covering of aluminum foil. AND (lots of my own notes, huh?) I think this recipe could have actually been elevated a touch further with the addition of one chopped sweet onion - and for those of us that like it, a tiny hit of heat with the addition of a few red pepper flakes. But that's just my opinion. But here's the recipe as the Naked Chef intended it to be:

Pot-roasted Pork in White Wine with Garlic, Fennel and Rosemary
1 - 3 1/2 lb. loin of pork (bone & skin removed)
Fresh ground pepper
1 Tbl. fennel seeds
2 - 3 large pats of butter
Olive oil
8 cloves garlic, skin left on
1 handful fresh rosemary
4 bay leaves
1 fennel bulb, sliced
1/2 a bottle of Chardonnay

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. With 2 or 3 bits of string, tie up your pork loin - this is simply to keep the meat all together so it cooks the same throughout. Season with salt & pepper, and then roll the meat in the fennel seeds to evenly distribute them all over the loin. In a roasting pan (I used my dutch oven), heat up some olive oil and half the butter, and the fry the meat on all sides until nice and golden.

Throw in the garlic, rosemary, bay leaves, fennel (I also chopped up some of the fronds for additional flavor and texture - and saved some for garnish at the end) and wine, then loosely cover the pan with some wet wax paper (or aluminum foil) and place in the oven for 1 1/4 hours.

Once cooked, remove from the oven and pull the loin out of the pan - place on a plate and allow to rest for a few minutes while you finish the sauce (covered lightly). While everything is still hot, add the rest of the butter and use a kitchen spoon to stir everything together (remembering to scrape up any "goodness off the bottom" in order to incorporate it into the sauce). You can remove the rosemary sprigs at this point as well. Check the flavor and adjust the salt & pepper if necessary - make sure to squash open the now-roasted garlic cloves. You can discard the skins and mix the bulbs into the dish, or leave the skins on and let your guests open them up for themselves. Slice the loin, and spoon the sauce & fennel over top. Add a few fennel fronds to the top for garnish.

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