Pork and Fennel Special

These pork tenderloins, with a delicious fennel and orange-scented bread stuffing, look as if they are complicated and time-consuming to make. But, in fact, they can be easily assembled a day in advance and need only 40 minutes in the oven. Served with a sauce made with chicken stock and white wine, which are used to baste the roasts, the sliced tenderloins make a very attractive entree for special menus.

ROASTED PORK TENDERLOINS WITH FENNEL AND ORANGE-SCENTED STUFFING

1/4 cup olive oil

2 1/4 cups chopped onions

3 cups fresh bread crumbs

1 tablespoon fennel seeds, crushed

1 tablespoon grated orange zest

Salt

Freshly ground pepper

3 cups chicken stock

3 (12-ounce) pork tenderloins, trimmed of all fat

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 cup dry white wine

1 1/2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in medium-heavy skillet over medium heat. When hot, add onions and saute, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes. Mix in bread crumbs, fennel seeds, orange zest, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 3/4 teaspoon black pepper. Remove from heat. Add 3 to 4 tablespoons chicken stock and mix just to moisten stuffing slightly. Set aside.

Place pork on work surface. Using sharp knife, make lengthwise cut down center of 1 tenderloin, cutting 2/3 of way through. Open flaps as for book. Make lengthwise cut down center of each flap, cutting 1/3-inch deep. Use meat mallet or rolling pin to pound pork to 1/4-inch thickness. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Repeat process with remaining 2 tenderloins.

Spread tenderloin with 1/3 of stuffing, leaving 1/2-inch border on all sides. Start on long side and roll meat up, jellyroll style. Tie pork with string at 1 1/2-inch intervals. Repeat with remaining pork and filling. (Pork can be prepared day ahead. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.)

Place heavy roasting pan over high heat and add remaining 1 tablespoon oil and butter. When hot, add meat and brown on all sides, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove pork from pan but do not clean pan. Place roasting rack in pan and place pork on rack. Pour all but 3 tablespoons remaining stock over pork. Roast on middle rack at 350 degrees, basting pork with pan juices every 10 minutes, until meat thermometer registers 150 degrees, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer pork to platter and tent with foil to keep warm.

Strain liquid from roasting pan and discard solids. Return strained liquid and wine to roasting pan. Place pan over high heat and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 to 7 minutes. Mix flour with remaining 3 tablespoons stock to make thin paste. Whisk into liquid in pan and cook until sauce thickens, 3 to 4 minutes.

Remove strings from roasts. Cut meat into 1/2- to 3/4-inch slices. Overlap slices on platter. Nap with sauce. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve extra sauce separately. Makes 8 servings.

Note : To crush fennel seeds, place in plastic food bag and pound with rolling pin or meat mallet.

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