Maiale con Finocchio -- Pork with Fennel





2 to 3 tbsp. olive oil
2 (10 oz. each) pork tenderloins, trimmed
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 fennel bulbs, cored and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 shallot, sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 to 6 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. minced fresh sages leaves
1/2 cup chicken broth


Preheat oven to 450°F. In a deep saute pan, warm the oil over medium-high heat. Trim ends of tenderloins and season with salt and pepper. Brown the tenderloins in the hot oil, 3-4 minutes on each side and remove to a platter.

Using the same pan, add a little more oil, if necessary and saute fennel and shallot, stirring occasionally until tender and slightly browned, 6-8 minutes. Add garlic and saute 1 minute more. Add 2 tablespoons of the balsamic vinegar and stir until nearly evaporated.

Remove pan from heat and season fennel and a sprinkling of salt and pepper and 1 tablespoon of sage. Place tenderloins on top of fennel and roast uncovered in the center of the oven approximately 15-20 minutes for medium well to well done.

Remove tenderloins from pan, cover loosely with foil and let rest on a cutting board; transfer fennel to a warmed platter. Place the saute roasting pan over medium-high heat. Add broth and remaining 3 tablespoons of vinegar, bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits from the bottom of the pan, and simmer until the sauce is slightly reduced and thickened. Carve the tenderloins into 1/2-inch medallions, arrange over the fennel, drizzle with balsamic sauce and remaining sage.

Author's Comments

Pan seared pork tenderloins finished off in the oven are perfectly moist and flavorful and pair beautifully with sauteed fennel. The saute/roasting pan drippings and aged balsamic vinegar create a terrific reduction sauce. This was a dish that was reserved for Sunday company. It was usually made with at least a half dozen tenderloins and fennel bulbs. The anise flavor of the fennel and the pork are great!

From my cookbook: The "Old Country" Italian Cookbook, by Donald J.P. La Marca

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