Friday, September 9, 2011

Fennel-Crusted Pork with Roasted Root Vegetables


I love to cook dishes that are a one stop shop. It's got your protein, starch and vegetables and it all gets popped into it's designated cooking contraption and it's done after the requisite time. I hate meals that have multiple components and steps and it just takes forever to cook.  I don't mind chopping vegetables. (You know that commercial that starts out by asking if you find chopping vegetables therapeutic, and then it turns out to be a commercial for a frozen dinner? When I first saw that commercial I thought I was going to feel like I connected with someone because I do find chopping vegetables enjoying!I guess I'm alone on that one.) But I dislike numerous steps because that means numerous dishes to wash. 

Once again, I gave Hubby the Real Simple magazine book and told me him to pick another recipe and this is what he chose. I've cooked pork tenderloin on multiple occasions and I have two go to recipes to use, but this one was stepping out of the box. I'm a creature of habit. When something works, I stick to it, why ruin a good thing? So to try a new pork tenderloin dish when there are already two types that I make that Hubby loves, I was a bit iffy. But, the entire meal is in one dish, which is not the case with my other two pork tenderloin dishes so I was lured in. 

Overall, it came out pretty good. Of course, I did not try the pork, but I really liked the taste of the vegetables and munched on quite a few when it was cooling on the counter top. Bambino did not eat any of it, but she was in an I'm not eating anything at all except pretzel goldfish kind of mood so that's not saying much. Hubby said he liked it. He thought it was going to be dry because of how long it cooked in the oven, but said that it actually came out quite juicy. (Personally, I don't think it cooked all that long in the oven) Here's another one for heavy rotation! 

I did make a few changes. I took out parsnip and added potato and garlic. (Of course.) Also, instead of making the sauce last, I made it the day before and used it as a marinade for the pork and cooked the pork and vegetables in the sauce. That was genius. 

Note: Don't be turned away from this because it requires fennel! If you own one of those collections of dried herbs (You know, the kids they sell at Bed Bath and Beyond where it contains a plethora of spices.) you probably have fennel in there, just check. I've owned two spice racks with spices and didn't realize until this past year that it even had fennel and cloves! 


Ingredients
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into large pieces. 
3 red potatoes, cut into medium size pieces
1 small onion, cut into large pieces
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
1- 1 1/4 lb pork tenderloin
2 tablespoons fennel seeds crushed (To crush fennel seeds place in a ziplock bag and use a rolling pin to crush. Or, as I did, bang on the bag with a skillet.)
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar (The recipe calls for apple cider, but I had apple cider vinegar and when I used it I thought it gave a great flavor to the vegetables. The carrots tasted a little pickled)
2 teaspoons honey
salt and black pepper

Directions:

1.In a skillet combine the apple cider vinegar and honey, wisk together. Bring to a boil and continue boiling for five minutes. Take off of skillet and pour over pork and place in an airtight container and place in the fridge over night.

2. Next day. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large casserole dish toss the carrots, potatoes, onions and garlic with 2 tablespoons of the oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Roast for 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, take pork out of airtight container. Reserve the marinade! Place crushed fennel, salt and pepper in a ziplock bag. Place pork in bag and shake to coat. 

4. Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Cook the pork on all sides until browned. (Somehow, this is where I lost my fennel! Ok, I admit, I cooked it at higher than medium high heat and I may have cooked it a bit too much. The fennel was stuck to the bottom of the pan.) 

5. Transfer the pork to the casserole dish with the vegetables. Place on dish and push the veggies so they are smack up on the pork. Drizzle with the rest of the marinade. Cook for 16-20 minutes more until the pork is cooked through and the internal temperature reads 165 degrees.

Amateur Cooking Difficulty Scale: 4
This one is an easy one, seriously, easy. The meat is low maintenance. (Unlike chicken, it doesn't have a lot of cleaning, slicing and dicing. But I do cut all the white part off of the pork!) It was simple to make and doesn't take too long to do. Obviously it was a big hit in that Hubby finished the whole dish in two servings! Go make this, seriously.

Yep. Will definitely have to make this again. It's a great weeknight meal. (I know I'm a stay at home mom, but when Hubby's not home and I have to watch Bambino and cook I tend to go for easier dishes.)

Did you find the fennel in your pantry?

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