Roasted Pork, Fennel, and Onions
Great for big feasts! Olive oil can be substituted for butter, if you’d rather eat olive oil than butter.
2 Tbs butter
1 cup fresh sage
1 1/2 Tbs whole black peppercorns
2 tsp cumin seeds
3 lbs fat-trimmed loin roast, rolled and tied with bone
4 red onions, halved
3 bulbs fennel, untrimmed
2 Tbs olive oil
1 1/2 cups orange juice
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
salt to taste
Melt butter in frying pan over medium high heat. Add 1/2 cup sage and stir until leaves are slightly darker green and crisp, about 1 minute. Transfer with slotted spoon to towels to drain. When leaves are cool, wrap in towels and seal in plastic bag. Save butter.
Finely grind peppercorns and cumin in a spice grinder.
Rinse pork and pat dry; rub pepper mixture all over the meat. Tuck remaining sage leaves equally under the strings on the smooth (fattiest) side of the roast. Set the pork, herb side up, on a rack in a 10x15-inch pan.
Cut onions in half crosswise; don’t peel. Trim off feathery fennel tops and reserve. Trim any bruises or dark spots from fennel. Rinse, then slice each vertically to make 3 or 4 equal slices.
Pour 2 tablespoons olive oil into a 10x12x15-inch rimmed pan and tilt to coat. Turn onions cut side down in pan. Turn fennel slices in pan to coat with oil.
Put roast on middle rack in 400 degree F (205 degrees C) oven. Drizzle fennel with 3/4 cup orange juice. Set vegetables on rack beneath pork. Bake until fennel slices are browned lightly on the bottom, about 35 minutes, then turn slices. Continue to cook with onions until both vegetables are browned on the bottom, about 20 minutes longer. If drippings in the pan get dark enough to scorch, pour a couple tablespoons of water onto them and tilt pan to distribute moisture. Bake pork until thermometer inserted in the center reaches 145 degrees F, about 45 minutes.
Transfer meat to large platter and keep warm; let stand at least 10 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons water to vegetables and tilt pan to distribute moisture; leave in pan and keep warm.
Remove rack and discard fat, then add reserved butter, remaining 3/4 cup orange juice, broth, and vinegar to roast pan. Boil on high heat, stirring to release browned drippings, until reduced to about 1/2 cup, about 10 minutes. Drain juices from pork into pan.
Arrange onions and fennel with pork. If desired, add some of the feathery greens from fennel tops. Sprinkle with the fried sage leaves. Slice roast and serve with vegetables and sauce. Add salt to taste.