|Fennel Scented Pork Roast|
My poor vegetable garden, however, was not so lucky. Few of my plants survived, and the ones that did probably won't have time to produce any more fruit. My fennel plant in particular, was doing well, but ended up broken and mostly uprooted, so I needed to find a way to make some use of it rather than discarding it altogether. I also had a pork roast in the freezer, and a limited selection of other groceries to work with until the roads re-opened, and the (flooded) local grocery store re-opened, but something good was well within reach- and, personally, a big juicy hunk of pork is a great way to celebrate our good fortune.
So let's talk about this piece of pork. Everyone likes boneless pork chops- they cook quickly, and are easy to make. You can use that popular brand of breadcrumb coating, and pop them in the oven and have a quick and easy meal. That, while good, gets boring after a while. If you start with a pork roast, you'll find that you have many more options- and you'll find yourself paying less per pound. The only difference between a pork roast and the chops is a few minutes of slicing. Working with the whole roast or loin increases your options for cooking and adding flavors- and if you start running out of ideas, you can always cut them into chops as usual (but at a lower price per pound!). My nice pork roast and my handful of fennel, made me think of the kind of flavors you would find in a sausage or a sausage based stuffing.
About ten or fifteen minutes before done (or 10 degrees before your target temperature if you use a probe) increase the oven temperature to around 400. This will help form a nice crust on the outside of the meat and concentrate all the flavors there. As with any large piece of meat, when you finally take it out of the oven, you'll want to let it rest for ten to fifteen minutes before cutting it. If you slice the roast before it has a chance to rest, all the juices will end up on your cutting board rather than on your plate. The rest period gives the meat a chance to re-absorb the juices as the muscle fibers relax after cooking. This rest period also give you a chance to put together the other component of our pork dish... a very simple sauce of sorts.
pasta dishes several times. Just before taking the roast out of the oven, I took a pan, and started with two or three tablespoons of olive oil, and about an equal amount of butter over low heat. When the butter is melted and starts to blend with the oil, add a little salt and black pepper, and the fennel. I took my fennel stalks, and using a pair of scissors, I cut off the flowers that seemed to have the most pollen, and cut up some of the stems and leaves into manageable pieces, and put a handful in the butter/oil mix. Let it cook for about ten to fifteen minutes, stirring so all the fennel gets a chance to give up it's flavors to the oil. We will use the oil, but leave the fennel itself behind, so you may want to have a strainer handy or be ready to carefully spoon out the oil.
On a more serious note- we were VERY lucky, but a lot of people who live near us were not- just down the street- literally within walking distance, families are still reeling from the effect of the flooding that followed hurricane Irene- many homes and businesses in the area have suffered greatly, and may never fully recover. I strongly urge anyone with the means to consider helping out with a donation, or volunteer work with the Red Cross. Thanks for listening!