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Fennel-Crusted Pork with Apples

Fennel, pork and apples — a natural flavor trio, so easy, yet special enough for company. The amount of pork and fennel is flexible. I happen to like the licorice flavor and crunch of fennel seeds, but using half of what I recommend might be enough for you. That’s what my friend Suzanne does, adding a sprinkle of fresh rosemary. If you don’t have the varieties of apples I suggest, use more or less rice vinegar — more with sweet apples, less with tart apples.
           This recipe brings me back to childhood when my mother would ask what we wanted for our birthday dinner. Year after year I craved pork chops and her “fried” apples. My updated recipe here, using fennel on pork tenderloin, takes the duo up a notch. Mom would love it. Let me know if you do!

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Fennel-Crusted Pork with Sauteed Apples
Prep Time  30 minutes          Makes 4 servings

2 large or 3 medium apples (about 1 lb. Fuji, Gala, or McIntosh)
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1 tablespoon Nakano seasoned rice vinegar
1-1/2 pounds whole pork tenderloin
  Salt & pepper to taste
2 to 3 tablespoons whole fennel seeds

Core and slice apples (no need to peel them). Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a 10-inch skillet. Add apples; sprinkle with seasoned rice vinegar and a little salt. Cook on high heat, stirring occasionally until tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and keep warm.

Meanwhile, cut pork tenderloin into 3/4-inch thick slices. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Press fennel seeds into tops of each piece.

Melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter in a 12-inch skillet. Place pork medallions seed side down in skillet. Sprinkle any remaining fennel seeds over medallions in pan. Cook on medium-high heat about 6 minutes. Turn meat and cook 4 minutes more or until no longer pink inside.  Serve with sauteed apples and steamed vegetables such as green beans or julienned carrots.
               An orginal recipe by Rita Held       Photo by Suzanne Carreiro

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  1. Theresa Dreike
    Posted January 27, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    I don’t have rice vinegar in my pantry. Do you think this could work with a balsamic vinegar instead?

    • Posted January 27, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

      Try just a teaspoon of cider vinegar; balsamic vinegar will turn the apples brown. Both vinegars are more tart than rice vinegar which is just 4 percent acidity — quite mild.

      • Theresa Dreike
        Posted January 27, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

        Thank you! Something for my weekend experimenting. 🙂

  2. Jane Rubey
    Posted January 27, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    I just cooked a picnic! This is a pork shoulder, the front leg of the pig. It was not smoked. The bone was removed and the butcher tied it into a roast. I rubbed it with crushed garlic, crushed fennel seeds, salt and pepper (also LOTS of thyme and oregano but they burned so I would omit this) and placed it on a flat broiler pan with a rack. I seared it for an hour in a 450 degrees F. oven. Then, I reduced the heat to 200 degrees F. and cooked it overnight for about 14-15 hours until 170 degrees internal temperature. I untied it, separated the meat bundles from any remaining fat, pulled some, sliced some…delicious!! So tender!!!

  3. Posted January 27, 2011 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

    Sounds divine, Jane. I developed a rolled pork loin roast for a client. Stuffed it with dried cranberries, chopped walnuts, shallots, rosemary, orange peel etc. Yumm.

  4. Norah Castillo
    Posted January 28, 2011 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    I am so excited to try this recipe! It looks easy and delicious!

    • Norah Castillo
      Posted February 1, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

      I just made this…very quick/easy and delicious! I didn’t have any apples so I used pears instead. I loved the taste of the rice vinegar with the fruit…it was very interesting (in a good way). Thanks for the recipe! I am always a fan of recipes with a short list of ingredients!!

      • Rita
        Posted February 1, 2011 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

        Glad you tried pears, Norah. Very creative of you!

  5. Posted January 28, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Yea! “Simplicity with flavor” is my motto. Norah, please let me know when you’ve made this.

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