Years ago, pork used to be called the other white meat with some help from a heavy advertising campaign. Even if you don’t believe all the hype, pork can be prepared in many ways and is tastier than beef in many ways, as you’ll soon find out.
Fennel Crusted Pork Tenderloins with Roasted Fennel Wedges
Most of us only know of fennel as being a spice that is added to salads and meats, but that’s just the green fern-like tips that are also just as decorative. Fennel also grows from a bulb and can be quite tasty when it’s prepared just right. When it’s paired with pork, you’ll notice that the anise-like taste is not as prominent as you might think. But what you’ll find is a combination of flavors that make pork tenderloin come alive!
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 pound pork tenderloin
- 1 teaspoon of sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
- 2 medium fennel bulbs (trimmed for the reserved fronds)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (extra virgin)
- 3 garlic cloves (smashed)
- cups chicken broth (reduced-sodium)
- 2 tablespoon butter (unsalted and sliced)
- teaspoon lemon juice (freshly squeezed to taste)
Prepping your pork
You’re going to start with preheating your oven to 350F degrees, which will continue to cook your pork after you braze it first. As this is warming up, take your fennel seeds and crush them up in a mortar and pestle. If you don’t have this handy, use a kitchen towel and crush them using the heavy bottom of an iron skillet. Take your pork meat and pat it dry using some paper towels.
Your crushed fennel needs to be mixed with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and teaspoon of freshly crushed pepper. Mix these together and cover the pork all over so that it’s totally coated. Let this sit while you warm up a 12″ cast iron skillet on medium-high heat. Add some olive oil to your skillet. Now you take your fennel bulbs and a cutting board and slice the bulbs lengthwise into -inch wedges.
Your skillet will be hot enough to sear your pork so start with searing each side for a few seconds or until it turns brown. Take a pair of metal spaghetti tongs and hold your pork on each side that isn’t seared on each of the exposed ends. What this does is that it seals in the juices which will make your tenderloin so much more tender when it’s cooked in the oven. As soon as you’ve seared your meat remove your pork to the cutting board.
Now, you’ll add your smashed garlic and the fennel wedges in the same skillet and saute until golden brown. This can take up to 6 minutes and after this, you stir in the butter and chicken broth. Mix these all together until you get the butter to melt. Now you add pork into the skillet and place this into your oven. You’ll also need a digital thermometer so you can check the internal temperature.
The optimal temperature of your pork needs to be between 145-150F degrees and will be ready after 15 to 20 minutes. When you finish cooking your pork, remove it from the oven and back onto your cutting board. Let it rest for 10 minutes and add some salt and pepper for more taste. Grab a nice insulated oven mitt and move your skillet to the stovetop. This will need additional stirring with the heat set to boil your mixture.
You can then add your 1/4 cup of lemon juice and add the left-over chopped fennel parts you set aside in the beginning. Once this sauce has reduced enough to become thicker, it’s considered done when you evaporated most of the liquid.
Serving your pork
Slice your pork into thin slices and then place them onto your dining plates. Take a spoon of the fennel/garlic sauce and spoon this around your pork slices or over the top. The inside of your pork will have a beautiful pink color like beef but is still cooked and very tender as a result. This is why you really need a digital thermometer to check the internal temp. This lets you know your meat is cooked but doesn’t lose that attractive appeal from being seared first.