Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Braised Pork Chops with Fennel, Potatoes, & Rosemary

Cold out there. Don't know why it's such a surprise, but its cold. Gray and cold. They call April the cruelest month, but I personally think November is the worst. So far we've had sleet, snow, and a touch of Indian Summer and it's barely mid-month. Ugh. Since I don't like winter much at all, November brings the prospect of four cold months ahead. The only thing good about it is that it heralds the start of the real cooking season. Nothing like coming through the door to a warm home, and the good smell of something delicious happening in the kitchen.

Contrary to popular belief, the flavor of anise is even better in savory dishes than it is in sweet things. It's actually not as intense here as it would seem; it melds beautifully into the herbal background and lets the flavor of the pork shine.

This is a wonderful, aromatic one-pot meal, and a green vegetable or a salad will round it out nicely.  The dish gluten free, so if you want to serve bread on the side, choose accordingly to the needs of those at your table.
Being lazy about dirtying extra plates,
we serve ourselves these braised pork chops right from the pan on the stove
 when there are no guests.

Braised Pork Chops with Fennel,  Potatoes, & Rosemary
Serves 4


1T olive oil
2 oz. diced speck or bacon
4 boneless center-cut pork chops (heritage if possible), 1" thick, salted and peppered
1 large onion, diced
1 large fennel bulb, cored, sliced, both white and green parts
Fennel fronds reserved for garnish
1 T bruised fennel seeds
3 cups small, yellow potatoes, halved or quartered
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes, no salt added
1 cup chicken stock
pinch hot red pepper flakes
1T Italian seasoning
2T fresh rosemary leaves, minced
2T Anisette liqueur
Freshly ground black pepper


1. Heat the oil on medium heat in a large, deep covered sauté pan, and add the speck. Cook until it begins to just brown. Move the speck aside and add the pork chops. Brown the chops, about 4 minutes per side, adjusting the heat as needed.

2. Remove the chops and speck to a plate and set aside, leaving any fat in the pan. Add the onions, fennel bulb, fennel seeds and potatoes. Salt lightly, and cook until the onions and fennel begin to soften. Add the tomatoes,  stir up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, then add the stock, the red pepper, the Italian seasoning, rosemary and the Anisette.  Bring to a simmer and stir well.

3. Add the chops, the speck, and any accumulated juices from the plate, return the mixture to a simmer, cover and cook about an hour, until the pork is very tender. Place the chops on a serving platte, and spoon the vegetables and juices over it all. Garnish with the fennel fronds.

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