2 April 2013

Autumn Pork with Pear, Potato and Fennel

Autumn is here and while I always imagine crisp mornings and clear days will ensue with big piles of crunchy brown leaves in the streets Melbourne is not, nor has ever been, one for clear concise seasons (nor is Australia known for its deciduous trees). Last week it was baking hot with wild winds, this weekend has been cold with rain turning any leaves on the ground to mush and prompting a thorough sort out of of my clothes in preparation for whatever may come this week. All I know for sure is that pears will be involved. Pears personify the colours of Autumn with Beurre Bosc in cinnamon tones, Red Sensation Bartlett's with orange sunset hues and the Nashi all green tinged with yellow. Good enough to eat!

Pork and pears are a match made in heaven, just season and fry a chop then grate a soft ripe pear over it for a quick delicious meal (a great way to use up slightly overripe super soft pears - it's like instant applesauce... with pears). I've taken this pairing further by stuffing my pork with grated pear so you end up with a moist pocket of sauce. Pork has the tendency to dry out while cooking so I often cook it in a foil packet to keep the moisture in. Different pears are right for different cooking techniques, I want my pears all melted and mushy so have used beautiful ripe but still firm Red Sensation Bartlett's - they were so pretty that the first lot I bought sat out in a bowl all blushing and Autumnal until they were so soft I had to eat them over the sink with the juice dribbling down my face.  

Ingredients (for 2 people):
NB: cooking times are given for the quantity of meat below, increase the cooking time if you use a larger cut of pork or use a meat thermometer to ensure the internal temperature is 63 C
  • 400 g pork tenderloin
  • 5 sage leaves
  • 1 ripe pear suitable for cooking, I used a Bartlett 'Red Sensation'
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder (Keen's or similar)
  • 2 roasting potatoes (Desiree or Golden Delight), parboiled then coarsely grated
  • 200 g sliced fennel bulb (or more if you have a larger bulb)
  • 5 tablespoons creme fraiche
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to season
You will also need kitchen string, baking paper and aluminium foil
Cut the tenderloin in half lengthwise then make a pocket in the meat on both sides
Fill the pockets with grated pear & sage leaves then lay one piece over the over with the filling in the middle
Tie up with firmly with cooking string, trying not to let any of the filling ooze out
Season then brown the rolled pork in a fry pan then place over the fennel and potatoes
Completely wrap up in aluminium foil on a baking tray and put in the oven
  1. preheat oven to 180 C
  2. roughly grate your ripe pear (peeled or unpeeled is up to you), set aside
  3. take your pork tenderloin and cut it in half lengthwise so you have 2 equal length pieces, then use a sharp knife to cut into each piece (not quite to the ends) to form a pocket, fill each cavity with the grated pear then lay the 5 sage leaves over one of the pork pieces
  4. carefully lay one section of pork over the other (with both pear pockets facing in) and tie together with kitchen string, you should be firm but try not to squash any of the pear out, set aside
  5. place a large sheet of aluminium foil on a baking try and cover with a sheet of baking paper a little smaller in size
  6. thinly slice the fennel and toss in a little olive oil, salt and pepper, put it in a flattened mound in the middle of the prepared baking paper
  7. peal and parboil the potatoes - cut them in half only, start with cold water and bring to a boil for 5 minutes then rinse in cold water and drain them very well 
  8. coarsley grate the potatoes then combine with creme fraiche, freshly cracked black pepper and a liberal amount of salt, place evenly over the fennel
  9. drizzle olive oil over the pork roll and rub it all over, sprinkle evenly with the teaspoon of curry powder and a sprinkle of salt and rub this in evenly as well
  10. heat a fry pan with a little olive oil and quickly brown the pork roll on all sides, you are trying to sear and colour the pork but not cook it through
  11. place the pork roll on top of the fennel and potato then scrunch up the top then sides of the aluminium foil to form a completely sealed packet
  12. cook in the oven for 30 mins at 180 C, remove from the oven and check that the meat is cooked but still pink (NB:it will continue to cook whilst resting in the next step so should be pink but not raw - overcooked pork will be dry; 63 C/ 145 F with a meat thermometer is cooked, make sure the thermomter is in the meat not the pear filling when testing)
  13. remove pork from oven and set aside on a plate under foil to rest
  14. open the foil packet right up and increase the oven to 230 C to cook the potatoes and fennel for a further 10 minutes or until cooked and any liquid has thickened
  15. remove the string from the pork roll then slice into 2 cm rounds across the grain and lay on top of the cooked potato and fennel
  16. serve in the baking paper in the center of the table and enjoy!

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