Shake things up with citrus and fennel
Pork tenderloin with fennel compote, citrus quartet and olives
Look for the seasonal produce in this recipe to aid in balancing the sour, bitter, salty and sweet elements of this elegant family dinner. The fennel compote, citrus and olives also pairs beautifully with fish or scallops.
1 fennel bulb, quartered and thinly sliced (reserve the fronds)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
¼ cup orange juice
1 16oz pork tenderloin trimmed and brought to room temp
1 large garlic clove, chopped
½ teaspoon fennel seeds, toasted
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 teaspoon Ras el Hanout*
½ teaspoon chili powder
Salt and pepper
1 Minneola tangelo, cut into supremes
1 pink grapefruit, cut into supremes
1 navel orange, cut into supremes
1 blood orange, cut into supremes
8 Sicilian green olives, pitted and quartered
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Melt the butter in a small sauce pan and add the sliced fennel bulb. Cook over medium-low heat until fennel begins to soften (do not let it brown). Add the brown sugar, season with a little salt and pepper and stir to coat. Add the orange juice, bring to a boil, reduce and cook to au sec (nearly dry). Taste for seasoning; compote should have a rich anise-citrus flavor and tend toward the sweet side. Set compote at room temperature until ready to serve.
Combine the chopped garlic and the toasted fennel seeds. Make 10 ½-inch deep slits in random spots on the tenderloin filling the slits with the fennel-garlic mixture as you go. Rub the fennel studded roast with the olive oil and sprinkle with the Ras el Hanout, chili powder, salt and pepper. Place the roast on a parchment lined baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes or until an instant read thermometer reads 145 degrees. Allow roast to rest for 10 minutes before slicing into ½-inch thick slices and transferring to a platter.
Serve the tenderloin alongside cooked couscous if desired and top with the fennel compote, citrus, olives and reserved fennel fronds. Serves four.
*Ras el Hanout is a Moroccan spice blend that can contain more than 25 ingredients including: cumin, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and rosebuds. Meaning “top of the shop,” pre-mixed Ras el Hanout can be found at finer spice shops.
Updated: February 27, 2012 8:18AM
Okay, I’ll say it: I’ve eaten about all the sweet potatoes, squash and apples I can handle for a while. And I’m betting you have, too. We’ve roasted them, sautéed them and even thrown them into pies.
I love the comfortable sweet and starchy winter produce standbys as much as the next person, but by the time the New Year rolls around I crave the addition of tart and pungent flavors in my winter dishes. Thankfully, snappy fennel and punchy citrus are coming into their peak seasons just in time to rescue cooks from the January kitchen doldrums.
Crisp fennel bulb, with its trademark feathery fronds, offers distinctive anise flavors to a myriad of dishes. Get those thoughts of gnawing on a rope of black licorice out of your head; subtle flavor makes fennel stand out among other wintery produce.
Shave raw fennel bulb into salads for a welcomed crunch and toss the narrow stalks into simmering stock to add a bit of mystery to your favorite soups. The fronds make a whimsical garnish for appetizer and entrée plates.
The California citrus harvest is in full swing right now, but freezing West Coast temperatures last week threatened the quality of the fruit. Rather than wait for the fruit stand verdict, I’d suggest getting your grapefruit on ASAP!
From limes to pummelos, citrus fruits provide a tangy zip for winter weary palates. Look for blemish free citrus that feels heavy for its size and use it liberally to brighten the flavors of everything from salads to desserts.
Combining the power of acerbic citrus and aromatic fennel in a simple pork dish will transform your family dinner into a seasonal delight. Wake up those buds and taste the bold flavors of winter!
Melissa Elsmo is an Oak Park mom, wife and chef/foodie. She speaks regularly about reclaiming the family dinner hour with nutritious meals. Check out her food blog at www.outofmelskitchen.blogspot.com.