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Seared Pork Medallions with Braised Fennel

Seared Pork Medallions with Braised Fennel

I've been experimenting with braised fennel lately, and finding that it makes a luxurious and tasty bed for seared meat and fish. The distinctive liquorish-like flavor is muted but not destroyed by the braising, and, combined with onions, it has a creamy goodness that begs to be nuanced with an herb or other flavoring, according to the pairing.

Since I've been cooking for the last year in a kitchen with no grill, and no outdoor space for a grill, I've been doing a lot of searing of meat and fish in cases where I would have grilled in my old kitchen. But searing medallions of pork would result in a too-rare piece of meat, so in this dish, the pork is coated with mustard and herbs and roasted to cook it partially. Then, sliced into medallions, the meat is seared to caramelize the surface and finish the cooking. The fennel-braising liquid is then used to deglaze the pan and then coat the meat, which is served on a bed of the fennel.

Everything works well in this dish. The pork is done perfectly, without drying out, and has a nice brown crust all over. Juices from the meat and bits of the herbs mix into the fennel broth in the pan as the dish is finished, connecting the dots in a satisfying way. I served this with dandelion greens on the side, and the counterpoint of the sweet, yielding braised fennel against the bitter greens and still-crunchy stems added another layer of interest to the meal.

Seared Pork Medallions with Braised Fennel

Pork tenderloin, about a pound
2 T fresh rosemary, minced
2 T fennel seeds, pulverized
4 T coarse mustard
2 T prepared horseradish
1 fennel bulb
1 medium onion, peeled
coarse salt
1 C vegetable broth, unseasoned
1/2 C dry white wine
4 T butter
olive oil
hot sauce
fish sauce

Preheat the oven to 450º. Brown the pork tenderloin on all sides, including the ends, in a hot skillet with a small amount of oil. This will take 5 to 8 minutes. Remove to a side plate and allow to cool for a few minutes. Mix the mustard and horseradish and spread all over the pork. Then sprinkle on the rosemary and fennel seed, pressing the herbs into the mustard/radish spread to keep it in place. Sprinkle with salt. Place the pork back in the skillet and put it in the oven for 10-12 minutes, uncovered, until the internal temperature is 130º. Remove the skillet from the oven, cover the pan and let the pork rest while you make the braised fennel.

Remove the outer sheath of the fennel. Use a mandolin or a very skillfully-handled knife to cut the fennel and the onion into very thin slices. Place in a saucepan with the broth, wine and 2 tablespoons of the butter. Bring to a boil, then lower to a slow simmer and braise, covered, for about 20 minutes. Drain, reserving the broth. Set the braised fennel aside and keep warm. Return the broth to the pan, bring to a boil and reduce by half. Remove from heat, cover and set aside.

Remove the pork from the pan and slice it in medallions 3/4" - 1" thick (they will be pink inside). Heat the pan to very hot, add two tablespoons of olive oil and then the pork medallions, placed on their cut sides. Sear for 90 seconds without disturbing, then turn for 90 seconds more. Remove to a warm plate. Pour the fennel liquid into the pan and stir to loosen any browned bits in the pan. Boil rapidly for a minute or two, then stir in the remaining two tablespoons of butter. Season to taste with fish sauce and hot sauce.

To serve, spread a bed of fennel on a platter. With tongs, dredge the pork medallions in the hot broth, turning to coat, then place on the fennel. Spoon remaining broth over the pork and fennel. Garnish with rosemary sprigs if desired.


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Stephen, love this dish

do you think it would be a problem doing the first browning and roasting one evening, and finishing it off next day? That would make it pretty much perfect for my weeknights

Thank you

Hi Sally...definitely! restaurants do this all the time, so they can finish the dish in minutes...refrigerate it whole, then slice it, cover with a clean cloth and let it warm up for about 30 - 45 minutes before searing for serving...

thanks for stopping by again...

best, Stephen

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