A few months ago while back in Britain I took a trip to Hay-on-Wye in Wales with my two oldest friends. Hay-on-Wye is a small town and a mecca for book lovers with over thirty shops selling secondhand books. I do not have any strong feelings towards secondhand books but I was very happy to find a paperback copy of The Renaissance of Italian Cooking by Lorenza de'Medici, first published in 1989. It is a collection of "aristocratic" recipes, many of which have been passed on through her family. However, despite their grand heritage many of the recipes are simple and elegant and can be easily prepared.
The recipe that follows is for a sort of porchetta, that was inspired by de'Medici's Roast Pork with Fennel.
Quantities serve two.
Quantities serve two.
1. Warm oven to 425.
2. Finely chop together 5 cloves garlic, 1.5 tsp fennel seeds, 1 tbsp fresh rosemary. Mix in 1/2 tsp sea salt and a few good twists of black pepper.
3. Cut the pork tenderloin 3/4 through lengthways.
4. Rub a small amount of olive oil on the inside of the pork.
5. Spread the garlic, fennel, rosemary mixture over the inside of the pork.
6. Close the pork and secure the tenderloin with butchers string. Rub a little salt & pepper over the tenderloin and place in a roasting pan with 2 tbsp olive oil and 2 tbsp butter. Place uncovered in hot oven.
7. Peel 3 large Russet potatoes and cut each into 6 or 8 pieces. Bring to a boil for 5 mins in a saucepan of water. Drain and gently shake in the saucepan to slightly crush the outsides, which will improve the crust. Arrange around the pork and toss in the oil and butter. Return to the oven to roast.
8. Chop up 1/4 large red cabbage (I was luck enough to have small heads of red cabbage that have been growing on my balcony). Slice 1/4 large onion. Cut 5 cloves garlic into 4 pieces each. Mix together and arrange in medium sized casserole. Season with a little sea salt & black pepper and add 1.5 cups chicken stock. Cover with lid and place in the oven.
9. Dice 1/2 large bulb of fennel, removing the fronds and core. Place a small pan with a lid together with a tbsp butter and 1/4 cup water. Allow to warm slowly, until the fennel is soft.
10. Place cooked fennel in a food processor with 1/2 cup milk. Process to a smoothish sauce.
11. When pork is cooked remove from pan and allow to rest before removing the butchers string. Return potatoes to the top of the oven to crisp. Remove the potatoes from the pan with a slotted spoon when they are golden.
12. Remove the cabbage when softened.
13. Deglazed the roasting pan with 1 cup white wine, bring to a simmer and add the fennel. Mix together and simmer to reduce slightly. Adjust seasoning to your taste.
14. Untie the pork and slice widthways into 1 cm slices.
15. Arrange slices of pork, potatoes and cabbage on plates and spoon the fennel sauce over the pork.