Sunday 7 February
Next to the well-spattered page in Mireille Johnston's Cuisine of the Sun that marks our favorite Poulet à la Niçoise and Poulet en Saupiquet, there is a two-day-long recipe for Rôti de Porc Provençale. We don't usually have the foresight to do this kind of advance prep, but this time we got our act together to marinate starting Saturday for a Sunday roast.
We can only get pork tenderloins, not loin roasts, and we slice them into pound-and-a-half roasts, about half the size the recipe calls for. But we adapted, as usual.
Rôti de Porc Provençale
1 big fennel bulb (that's #1)
1 1/2 lb. pork tenderloin
1 tsp. dried fennel seed (#2)
1 tsp. dried sage
salt and pepper
1/2 cup white wine
2 Tbsp. bacon fat (okay, use oil if you want)
1 tsp. Pernod (or in our case, raki)
1 Tbsp. chopped fennel fronds (#3)
On the first day, core and slice the fennel bulb thinly, taking off a number of strips; insert many into slits you make in the surface of the roast, along with as much of the fennel seed as you can work in there. Save the rest for the day of cooking.
Rub the meat with half the sage, some salt, and pepper, place in a bowl or airtight bag (both, for safety), and add wine. Let it chill in the fridge overnight, and turn it over in the morning.
That evening, while the oven preheats to 400º and your bacon fat melts in the roasting pan, remove the pork from the marinade (which reserve), rub with more salt and pepper and the rest of the sage and fennel seed, roll the pork in the fat, and let it roast for 15 minutes. Then reduce heat to 375º and let it cook until the internal temperature is 140º.
In the meantime, braise the rest of the sliced fennel in butter and white wine until tender - that's your side vegetable.
Remove pork from pan to rest for 5 minutes, pour reserved marinade and raki into the pan and deglaze under high heat (the meat juices congealed, which isn't pretty, but still tastes good). Pour over sliced pork, sprinkle with fennel fronds, and nap with the braised fennel.
A bit sophisticated for Superbowl Sunday, but a great way of making the average supermarket pork tenderloin moist and luscious.