In my opinion there are three main ways of deciding what to make for dinner: a new recipe you just have to make, that produce that looked too good at the market and you just had to buy despite having no plan for it, or using up what you already have at home in the pantry, freezer or fridge.
When I first started cooking I mostly approached cooking based on new recipes I found. The problem was this often resulted in $30+ shopping trips for ONE dinner. Delicious yes but not sustainable for our poor checking account. These days my cooking is a combination of the latter two methods of deciding dinner. I base what I make on what is in season (not intentionally as I buy what looks good and is inexpensive) and then pair it with what I already have at home. It has taken years for me to develop this method of cooking as I have slowly built up a repertoire of recipes in my mind. When I see irresistible inexpensive in season ingredients I snatch them up quickly running through what I have at home that will go with. So was the case with this roast.
Our local farmers market is incredible and for the first time this year they had the most beautiful fennel. I LOVE fennel but the first time I made this recipe it was early on in my cooking adventures and it was certainly a $30+ dinner as I bought fennel out of season and the rest of the ingredients full price. The above picture is all the main ingredients. The fennel (look how stunning it is!!!) and potatoes were from the market, the pork from the half a pig we bought earlier this year, the carrots from my garden and the onion from my most recent shopping trip. Everyone keeps onions on hand for just in case right? Right. Thanks for making me feel normal.
So I encourage you to make this recipe IF you see irresistibly gorgeous fennel. Or have a roast in your freezer you need to use. Or you really really want to make it.
Roast Pork Loin with Fennel (feeds 6 very hungry people)
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon fresh or 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 3-pound boneless pork loin, trimmed and tied if you want (I had a bone in roast in my freezer and it worked fine)
3 small fennel bulbs, tops removed
10 carrots, peeled and thickly sliced diagonally
10 small new potatoes, quartered
2 onions, thickly sliced
4 tablespoons good olive oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick), melted
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Mince the garlic finely. Mix with the salt and thyme. Add the mustard and combine. Spread the mixture over the loin of pork and allow it to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut the fennel bulbs into thick wedges, slicing through the core. Toss the fennel, carrots, potatoes, and onions in a bowl with the olive oil, melted butter, salt, and pepper.
Transfer the vegetables to a large roasting pan and cook for 30 minutes. Add the pork to the pan and continue to cook for another 30 to 50 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the middle of the pork reads exactly 138 degrees. Remove the meat from the pan and return the vegetables to the oven to keep cooking. Cover the meat with aluminum foil and allow it to rest for 15 minutes.
If tied remove the strings from the meat and slice it thickly. Arrange the meat and vegetables on a platter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
PS. We DEVOURED the veggies. They are incredible. When Nathan woke up this morning he reminisced about this dinner before getting out of bed. Seriously it is THAT good.