Thanks to the BF’s DRAFT magazine (I scored a deal on Groupon for the subscription, thank you very much), I’ve been making better use of my crockpot. Or rather, I’ve been actually using my crockpot. I don’t know why I didn’t get into this sooner. I am loving this thing. And making Italian Pork Roast with Fennel and Potatoes was the most fun I’ve had with food preparation in a long time. It was just a great sensory experience, starting with the mashing of garlic and salt in my mortar and pestle. Nose bliss!
Pestled up fresh garlic, salt, lemon rind, and fennel seeds.
The aroma was so freshly nostalgic and wonderful. I just had to sit and experience it for a few short moments before I continued. Then I added the fennel seeds and lemon zest (which I vigorously zested), and went back to work at pestling up the ingredients.
As as an aside, isn’t the smell of freshly grated lemon zest delicious? Refreshing? Invigorating? Yes, I think so too.
This one rare time, I did actually stay pretty true to the original recipe (for the most part). I may have fudged the measurements for certain ingredients, and of course I used flower pepper as opposed to “regular” pepper, and maybe threw in a couple of other dried herbs here and there, but for the most part, the ingredients themselves are unbastardized.
Next I “butterflied” the pork loin- as directed- but when I noticed that the recipe stated that I should coat the inside of the loin but not the outside, I threw out all hopes of being true to its intended form and just started rubbing that spice mixture all over it. I believe that it thanked me.
I also had no “kitchen string” and hence opted not to bother tying it together. A little rebellion, a little improvisation. I browned the meat on all sized and let it rest on a plate while I went to work on the fennel. Real fennel, bulb fennel. You might also know it as finocchio (say it with an Italian accent).
To get the brown bits out of the pan after I shifted the fennel into the crockpot, I heated up the beer to be used for the recipe. I did not have Helles lager or witbier (I’m not the beer connoisseur, so don’t even bother asking me what those are. I only that I did not have them in my possession), so I used a saison (Sneak Attack). As far as the end result goes, I think it matters not.
I finished off by cutting up the potatoes and throwing them into the crockpot (on top of the fennel), adding the heated beer, and gently placing the already-browned loin on top of the whole mixture. Slow-cooked it up for several hours and had a meal for the next evening:
Italian pork roast with green beans and focaccia
Served it with a side of green beans sauteed in oil and breadcrumbs, and a piece of focaccia from Piece-A-Cake. Delicioius!