Monday, October 21, 2013

Meaty Monday: Braised Pork Chops with Fennel, Tomatoes & Potatoes

It was 80º here two weeks ago, and we'll likely have our first light frost at the end of the week. Doesn't seem fair. I haven't even brought in all my houseplants yet. The ONLY thing I like about the coming winter is the hearty, comforting food. I'll just console myself with dishes like this lovely one-pot dinner  of pork chops and fennel until spring comes. Or the seed catalogs arrive...

Last year I made a slightly different version of this dish, but I think it was  too herbal, so bear with me. This is a meal that's quick to prepare, reheats well, and is so, so satisfying on a cold night with a glass of beer. 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. Depending on how you feel about potatoes, you may want to modify this for a paleo dinner, and again, if you omit the potatoes, it would be a good low carb or Atkins-type meal.

We'll just serve ourselves from the pan tonight because I'm L-A-Z-Y.
Braised Pork Chops with Fennel,  Tomatoes & Potatoes
Serves 4


2 T olive oil
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
3 cups small, yellow potatoes, halved or quartered
2 cups of chopped fresh tomatoes , OR 1 15oz. can diced tomatoes, no salt added
1 cup chicken stock
pinch hot red pepper flakes
2T Italian seasoning
2T Anisette liqueur or Pernod
Freshly ground black pepper


1. Heat the oil on medium heat in a large, deep covered sauté pan until is begins to shimmer and smoke and add the pork chops. Brown the chops, about 4 minutes per side, adjusting the heat as needed.

2. Remove the chops to a plate and set aside, leaving any fat in the pan. Add the onions, fennel bulb, 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, and the Anisette liqueur.  Bring to a simmer and stir well.

3. Add the chops 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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