I love fennel but am never quite sure what to do with the leftover fronds. When I discovered this recipe for Porchetta that actually calls for the fronds and not the bulb, I filed it away in my mental cookbook for the next time I needed fennel for something.
Once the weather cools, there is something about nice, long, slow cooked dishes. They may require a bit of work on the front end but the payoff is almost always worth the effort. This recipe is from Italian Slow and Savory by Joyce Goldstein and is the epitome of a wonderfully slow roasted dish.
Porchetta is street food from central Italy, usually sold from a cart, sliced to order and served in sandwich form. It often involves using a whole pig, which I could never do.
This version is seasoned in the same classic manner used for a whole roast pig. The pork loin is generously rubbed with a savory garlic and herb paste, tied, and then allowed to roast in the oven for about three and a half hours. Talk about being worth the effort–the end result is unlike any other roasted pork, deeply flavorful, delicious hot or cold and a wonderful kick-off to fall and the chilly weather ahead.
10 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons fennel seeds, toasted in a dry pan and crushed
3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 cup chopped fresh fennel fronds
1/2 to 2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
Generous pinch of ground cloves
3 to 3 1/2 pound boneless pork loin roast
1. Make a paste of chopped garlic, fennel seeds, rosemary, fennel fronds, salt, pepper and cloves.
2. Moisten the paste with a little olive oil.
3. Butterfly a boneless 3- to 3 1/2-pound pork loin roast: using a long , sharp knife, cut the pork nearly in half horizontally, stopping within about 1/2 inch of the opposite side.
4. Open it up to lie relatively flat, like a book. Place between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and, using a meat pounder, pound it a bit to flatten it evenly, and then rub it with half of the paste.
5. Roll up the pork and tie securely with kitchen string. Rub the remaining paste evenly over the outside of the pork, then cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least overnight or for up to 2 days.
6. Roast in a 350ºF oven for about 3 1/2 hours. It is ready whe than instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 140ºF.