PORK TENDERLOIN WITH FENNEL (ITALIAN)
I was just about to let my subscription to Eating Well magazine lapse on the basis of boredom, but I have to say that the January/February '95 issue has had some real winners in it. I reported the other night on a really delicious Mexican pozole, and tonight followed up (with only minor tweaking) with a really delicious pork tenderloin dish on a finocchio and onion puree. The whole entree, including side dishes, took only an hour to get on the table.
Here 'tis, with my minor modifications built in:
In a mortar w/pestle, grind one tablespoon fennel seeds, 1 teaspoon salt, and a dozen black peppercorns; stir in 1 teaspoon olive oil to make a paste, and rub it all over two small pork tenderloins (about 8 ounces each). Fold under the thin tail end, securing it with toothpicks, and set aside.
Chop one bulb of finocchio and one small sweet onion coarsely, and smash one large clove of garlic.
Have available 1 cup chicken broth, 1/2 cup leftover white wine, and 1 tablespoon sour cream (I used the "light" variety and it worked fine).
Preheat oven to 425F.
Heat a dry, seasoned black-iron skillet until it's very hot, and toss in the tenderloins. The oil in the coating will be all that's needed to brown them quickly if you flip them quickly, scraping up the scorchy bits with a spatula before they burn. As soon as they're browned on both sides, which just takes a moment or two, pop the skillet into the oven and roast the tenderloins for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, sautee the finocchio/onion/garlic mix in a small amount of olive oil in a heavy saucepan, then add the chicken broth and simmer, covered, for 10 or 15 minutes or until the vegetables are quite soft. Dump the contents into the Cuisinart (steel blade) and process into a rough puree.
Remove the tenderloins from the oven, put them on a warm plate, and pour the white wine into the skillet. Reduce it over high heat until it's almost completely reduced, then lower heat to medium and pour in the contents of the Cuisinart. Let cook down a little while you slice the tenderloins into thick slices and arrange them on the serving plate.
Turn off heat under the skillet and, when the bubbling stops, stir in the sour cream. Pour this sauce around the tenderloin medallions and garnish with a few finocchio leaves.
I served this with a simple green salad and a pile of potato and turnip matchsticks simmered together in salted water for seven or eight minutes or until just tender and then tossed with a bit of butter and a sprinkle of black pepper.
It went very nicely with tonight's wine, a dry Muscadet de Sevre et Maine from the Loire, and would have done equally well with a crisp, pale beer like a European or US microbrewery pilsener. (Or maybe better yet, Samuel Adams' current seasonal Winter Lager.)