Weeknight Cooking: Fennel-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Fennel Wedges

Expanding my culinary repertoire brings a fear of wasted ingredients. The first time I made Fennel & Sausage Risotto, it was the only thing I had really cooked that used fennel. Because I only cook for two, I used half of a fennel bulb, but didn’t want the other half of the fennel to go to waste, nor did I want to keep making the risotto over and over before the veg went bad. Since then, I’ve been searching for another way to use up extra fennel so I can continue to make the risotto without the waste.

Found one.

Fennel Roasted Pork Tenderloin
Photo courtesy of Gourmet Magazine

This is another one of the epicurious.com recipe of the day features. Those things are sort of famine or feast for me, and these past few weeks have been really good.

Fennel-Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Fennel Wedges
Courtesy of Gourmet

1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 pound pork tenderloin
2 medium fennel bulbs, trimmed, reserving fronds
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, smashed
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. The recipe instructs: “crush fennel seeds with a mortar and pestle or wrap in a kitchen towel and crush with bottom of a heavy skillet.” Instead, I opted for the convenience of my electric coffee grinder.

Ground Fennel Seeds

The ground fennel are then rubbed all over the pork tenderloin, along with some salt and pepper. Here’s a shot of my not at all phallic pork tenderloin.

Seasoned Pork Tenderloin

Heat oil in a 12-inch oven-proof heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Brown pork on all sides, about six minutes total, then transfer to a plate.

Browning Pork Tenderloin

It wasn’t tricky in the slightest. For those who just aren’t very good about managing your time or have a tendency to forget about the food that’s in the pan, feel free to use the microwave timer. I did.

Here it is after it’s browned.

Browned Pork Tenderloin

As you can see, it’s still raw in the middle.

Browned Pork Tenderloin - Side View

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.

Browning Fennel 1

Browning Fennel 2

Browning Fennel 3

The smell of this was amazing.

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 15 minutes. Transfer pork to a cutting board and let rest 10 minutes.

Here it is going in:

Pork & Fennel Going into the Oven

And coming out:

Pork Tenderloin in Oven

Meanwhile, transfer skillet to stovetop (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.

Plated Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Fennel

My oven tends to take a little longer, so my pork took longer to cook. Then, in a totally amateur maneuver (hence the website name), I got nervous and pulled it out after a total of 25 minutes. It was still a little too pink in the middle so, after letting it rest, I sliced it up and stuck it into the pan where the broth was cooking. Those sat in there for about 30 seconds each and came out. Not ideal, but I was panicked over raw pork. Next time I’ll know not to mess with it and just wait until the thermometer says it’s done.

I plated this with a side of simply roasted cauliflower that was prepared in a toaster oven, since my oven was occupied. The cauliflower was delicious, too. I love cauliflower.

Roasted Cauliflower in Toaster Oven

The pork was easy, delicious and relatively quick. It gets my vote. With the tender, mild fennel, it was quite nice and, as worried as I was about an overpowering taste of crusted fennel on my pork, it was just right.

Weeknight Cooking: B+
Overall Dish: B+

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