When you receive fennel for the first time it can be a little intimidating. It’s pretty and aromatic, but what the heck do you do with it? If you like licorice flavor you might like it raw, sliced into a salad or slaw. The feathery fronds make a nice addition to a dip or salad dressing. We prefer fennel cooked, which brings out the sweetness in it.

Pork Tenderloin with Sauteed Onion and Fennel and Fennel Cream is my go to recipe for fennel. Although it calls for pork tenderloin, I’ve also made it with chicken. Most recently, I had some beautiful Hampshire pork chops from Chase Brook Natural Meats, who come to the Bloomington Farmer’s market on Saturday mornings. On a side note, heirloom pork can be a revelation to someone like me who grew up on supermarket pork. This is not your mother’s pork . . . it’s your grandma’s pork.

I served it with the last sugar snap peas of the season and new potatoes.

Pork Tenderloin with Sauteed Onion and Fennel and Fennel Cream

Adapted from Bon Appetit, October 1995

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons fennel seeds, crushed
1-2 medium fennel bulbs, quartered, cored, thinly sliced
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons minced garlic

2 12-ounce pork tenderloins, trimmed, each cut crosswise in half (Chops or chicken breasts could also be used)

1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
1/2 cup whipping cream

Fennel fronds

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in sliced fennel and onion and sauté until vegetables are very tender and caramelized, about 40 minutes. Add minced garlic and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.

Increase heat to high. Add white wine and boil until liquid is reduced to glaze, about 2 minutes. Add chicken broth and whipping cream and boil until reduced to sauce consistency, whisking often, about 5 minutes. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

Whie the fennel is cooking, preheat oven to 450°F. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in another heavy large skillet over high heat. Season pork tenderloins with salt and pepper. Add pork to skillet; cook until brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer pork to baking sheet; reserve drippings in skillet. Roasts pork until thermometer inserted into center registers 150°F, about 5 minutes. Remove pork from oven; cover with foil and keep warm. If using chicken breasts, roast until thermometer inserted into center registers about 165°F.

Cut meat into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Spoon sauce over meat. Garnish with fennel fronds.

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