Slow-Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Aïoli and Fennel

Holiday 2007
200706034.jpg
food and drink

BY: Marilyn Bentz-Crowley and Ludwig Ratzinger

Slits stuffed with garlic slivers and lime zest add Asian flair while slow-roasting keeps this tenderloin very moist. Pan juices from the searing are used to enhance the garlicky mayonnaise. Fresh fennel and black onion seed (nigella) complement spiced meat beautifully—as would a side of puréed sweet potatoes or mashed potatoes.

Roast
1 lime
1 large clove garlic
1 large pork tenderloin
¼ tsp (1 mL) ground cloves
⅛ tsp (0.5 mL) freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cardamom
Pinch of cinnamon
1 tsp (5 mL) coarse sea salt
1 tbsp (15 mL) unsalted butter
1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil

Aïoli
1 large egg yolk
2 to 3 tsp (10 to 15 mL) freshly squeezed lime juice
tsp (2 mL) Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
Pinches of salt
⅓ cup (75 mL) extra virgin olive oil

Fennel
2 tbsp (25 mL) olive oil
1 tsp (5 mL) black onion seeds, slightly crushed
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
1½ to 2 fennel bulbs, quartered, cored and thinly sliced, about 6 cups (1.5 L)
Pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Preheat oven to 275°F (140°C).

2. Using a sharp knife, thinly slice off lime rind making 12 small dime-size pieces and leaving most of the white behind. Lengthwise cut garlic in half (remove any green centre if present); cut into long thin slices. Remove silver skin from tenderloin; discard. Then cut shallow slits and randomly stuff tenderloin with lime and garlic pieces on all sides. Combine spices and coarse salt; rub into tenderloin.

3. Heat butter and oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. When hot and bubbly, place tenderloin in pan; sauté for 3 to 4 minutes without moving meat except to peek at underside. When meat is browned, flip over. Sauté again for 3 to 4 minutes or until a peek at the underside shows meat is browned. When tenderloin is removed from frying pan set pan aside, including juices.

4. Meanwhile, place a metal rack over a metal pan with high sides such as a 9 x13-inch (3 L) baking pan. Place browned tenderloin on this high rack; bake 30 minutes for medium or 40 minutes for medium-well. Remove from oven; rap in foil and keep in a warm place, such as stovetop, for 15 minutes to complete the cooking (a necessary step for perfect doneness).

5. To make aïoli, whisk together yolk, 2 tsp (10 mL) juice and mustard. Whisk in garlic and a pinch of salt. Then very slowly whisk in olive oil until a thick emulsion forms. Whisk in pan juices; taste and add remaining lime juice and another pinch of salt, if needed. Set aside.

6. To prepare fennel, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add seeds; sauté 30 seconds or until fragrant. Stir in onion; sauté 3 minutes. Stir in fennel; reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes or until fennel is tender but still has some bite. Season with pinches of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover and keep warm.

7. To serve, slice tenderloin crosswise at an angle into 12 pieces. Divide slices on warmed serving plates; nap with aïoli. Alongside add a generous spoonful of fennel. Garnish with a piece of green feathery fennel top. Pass any remaining aïoli at table.

Serves 4