Pork (or lamb) and fennel tray bake – absolutely divine!

4 Sep

I love recipes that can be cooked in one pot or, like this one, in a roasting dish.  Cuts right down on washing up and the flavours seem to really enhance one another.  In this instance I used pork fillets, as suggested in the original recipe, but I think it would be great with lamb steaks as well, providing all fat is removed.  I was a bit worried about the fennel as I sometimes find it is a bit strong.  Didn’t need to though, I think the boiling made it more mellow and it was a perfect ingredient for this dish.

The rub for this is great, a hint of sweetness from the honey, some sour from the lemons and a bit of heat from the chilli.  I use chillies a lot in my cooking as my husband loves things with a bit of a kick.  Sometimes they are so subtle that the heat is barely noticeable, others they give real heat and depth to a dish.  I realised that I have not included any information on chillies in my previous blogs.  Very remiss of me but partially rectified today.  Here is a bit of chilli trivia to be going on with, courtesy of the foodreference and the Discovery Channel websites.

  • The seeds are NOT the hottest part of peppers. It is at the point where the seed is attached to the white membrane inside the pepper that the highest concentration of capsaicin (the compound giving peppers their pungent flavor) is found.
  • Capsaicin, the ‘hot’ constituent in chile peppers, is not water-soluble – it is soluble in fat and alcohol. So don’t drink water to cool your mouth after eating very hot chilies. Drink milk or beer, or eat some ice cream or guacamole if your mouth is on fire.
  • Hatch, New Mexico is known as the “Green Chile capital of the World”.
  • Scientists have found connections between capsaicin (the ingredient that makes chillies hot) and a component of tarantula venom.
  • Upon arrival in Mexico, some early Spanish priests, aware of the passion people had for chillies and unsure of its powers, assumed they were aphrodisiacs and in their sermons warned against consumption of food that was ‘as hot as hell’s brimstone’.
  • Eating chillies is addictive. When capsaicin comes in contact with the nerves in your mouth, pain signals are sent to the brain. Subsequently, the brain releases endorphins, natural painkillers, that create a feeling of well-being.
  • Indian tribes strung chillies together and tied them to their canoes to ward off evil spirits they believed might be lurking in the water

The original recipe is based on one from the Good Food website which I have adapted slightly.  Here is a link to the original recipe if you want to take a look.

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/845664/roast-pork-with-fennel-and-preserved-lemon

Pork (or lamb) and fennel tray bake                            Serves 2 (easily doubled)

  • 4 medium red skinned potatoes, peeled and cut into medium chunks (about 1.5 inches)
  • 1 fennel bulb, core removed and cut into 8 wedges
  • 2 red onions, peeled and cut into 6 wedges each
  • Olive oil
  • 1 pork fillet, any fat or sinews removed, halved lengthways then widthways to give 4 pieces. If making with lamb use two large lamb steaks, fat removed.
  • 6 slices of preserved lemon, rinsed and flesh removed
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 small red chilli, seeded (this will give medium heat so adjust to suit personal taste)
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tbsp honey
  • small handful of fresh coriander
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6.
  2. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and add the potatoes and fennel.  Bring back to the boil and cook for 2 minutes.  Drain well and dry on kitchen paper.
  3. Put the potatoes, fennel and onions in a roasting tray, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and black pepper.  Roast for 20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, put the lemon rinds, garlic, chilli, paprika, honey and coriander in a small chopper with 1 little olive oil (about 1 tbsp).  Chop until the lemon is finely chopped.  Rub the mix into the meat, coating well.  Season.
  5. When the vegetables have cooked for the 20 minutes, lay the meat on top and return to the oven for another 20 – 25 minutes or until the meat is cooked through and the vegetables are tender and slightly golden.  Serve immediately with a green vegetable if you have a mind to.

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