With all of the cold and the muck that the weather has brought on this past week, it's hard not to feel as if every bone in our body has been practically begging us to make comfort food. And really, for me, there's nothing quite sweeter than coming home to a warm kitchen filled with the smell of vegetables simmering in garlic and stock.
In the past month, we upgraded from an apartment to an adorable house and one of the main selling points for me was the fact that it has a brand new gas stove. Sure, we have a basement that floods and the new found joy of paying city bills -- and not to mention the fact that we had to re-paint every room from top to bottom -- but this stove was everything that I imagined as 'love at first sight'. After accomplishing my first mission of treating this appliance to the best scrub it's ever had in its life, I mentally made a short list of all of the meals that I planned to make first.
Knowing that I had left over turkey stock in the freezer and that friends would be joining us for our first dinner party, I decided to make one of our winter favorites -- a braised pork loin roast in my mother's hand-me-down Creuset.
Typically I'm not the biggest fan of fennel, but in this case, I wanted to venture further than the simple mirepoix and include some new ingredients. And I'll be the first to admit; I may not be eating raw fennel in a salad anytime soon, but once it had finished sweating with the onion, I had a serious change of heart about this black licorice-tasting bulb. Along with the apple, the fennel brought out a wonderful touch of sweetness that complemented the pork perfectly.
In the future, I plan to include other root veggies in this recipe and encourage you to as well -- such as rutabaga, parsnips or leeks. And though we used a Honey Crisp apple by chance because it happened to look best that day in the market, I'm sure that any of a similar variety would do well.
Pork loin roast with apple, fennel and root vegetables
- Olive oil or butter for sautéing
- Pork loin, 2-4 lbs.
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 fennel bulb, chopped
- 1 apple, chopped into bite size pieces (we used Honey Crisp)
- 3 carrots, chopped
- 3 pieces of celery, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, whole
- Enough broth of your choice to fill the pot with all ingredients 2/3 of the way up
- A handful of red potatoes, quartered
- Fresh herbs and seasoning of your choice*
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Sauté your onions and fennel until they are about 3/4 of the way finished and add the pork loin to sear on all sides, about 5 minutes. Once the meat has been seared and the onions and fennel have finished sweating, add the carrots, celery, apple, garlic, potatoes, and broth into the pot. Fill the broth 2/3 of the way up, leaving room for it to steam and cook the ingredients. Place the pot in the oven and check the temperature after about 30 or 40 minutes. It's less of a time line and more of just when the meat has been brought up to temperature and is finished cooking. Let the meat rest, serve and enjoy.
*Fresh herbs should be added at the end of cooking, while other seasonings can be added as needed throughout.
Note: One of our friends who is a chef swears that pork is finished once it hits 145 degress, though we normally take a cut such as a pork loin roast out at 150 degrees to let it finish while resting. (We're sure either way is absolutely fine, depending on how rare you like your meat.)