Monday, November 9, 2009

Slow-cooked pork with fennel and olives

Sorry, no pictures this time, but this is an easy and different recipe for this time of year and will always get raves from the assembled multitudes.  Just the thing for a chilly evening.

4 tablespoons olive oil 
3-4 pounds boneless Boston butt or pork shoulder, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
2 large onions, chopped
8 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup dry white wine
1 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes
3 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, toasted & crushed
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered.  

1 cup Mediterranean olives (I like mixed green and black). Buy them pitted or pit them yourself
2 large fennel bulbs, fronds & cores removed, cut into pieces 
Balsamic vinegar 
Salt & freshly ground pepper 
1⁄4 cup Italian parsley, chopped

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in heavy Dutch oven over medium- high heat. Season pork with salt and pepper. Add it to the pot in batches so as not to crowd it and cook until brown, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes per batch. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, transfer the pork to a plate. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pot and turn the heat down to low. Add the onions and sauté until very tender, about 12 minutes. Add the garlic and cook about 3 minutes until it's fragrant.

Turn the heat back up to medium-high and add the wine to deglaze, boiling off the alcohol and scraping up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Return the pork to the pot and add the tomatoes with their juices, chicken broth, thyme and the toasted fennel seeds. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered until pork is almost tender, about 1 hour. Add the potatoes, olives and fresh fennel bulb and continue cooking until the pork is very tender and juices are slightly thickened, about 45 minutes.

Season to taste with salt, pepper and about a tablespoon of Balsamic vinegar and serve garnished with Italian parsley and fennel fronds, if you have them.

EDIT: I've received some questions about fresh fennel and where to buy it. I've lifted a picture off the Interwebz so those of you who don't know what to look for will have a reference. It will usually come with the fronds trimmed off as you see, and it should be available in most any supermarket, though it's sometimes incorrectly labeled as "anise". Use only the white part and cut out the core in a fashion similar to cutting out the core of a cabbage.


  1. This looks great! Thanks for the recipe. I haven't cooked with fennel. Define fronds. I can imagine core.

  2. Susan, you're going to have difficulty finding fennel with the fronds on it because most markets trim them off, but here's a pic.

  3. Just so you know, there's a picture of this yummy stew on my blog, and it'seven BETTER reheated a couple of days later.

  4. Bob sounds great...i'm gonna give this one a whirl soon!

  5. "Just so you know, there's a picture of this yummy stew on my blog, and it'seven BETTER reheated a couple of days later."

    Thank you, dear :-)

  6. Not sure what fennel tastes like or where to get the fresh. Can I use my fennel in jar and if I do how much?

  7. Bob, I'm a "friend" of Tracey's and I like you already! The stew sounds great, will be trying it soon. You've made my friend happy, so I'm happy with you. Be nice to her-she's got LOTS of bloggy friends!! LOL-just kidding-kind of...

  8. Diane, fresh fennel should be available at almost any supermarket. It's sometimes incorrectly labeled as "anise". The stuff in the jar (the seed) is already in the ingredient list and you really need the fresh bulb to make the dish sing. Here's a pic of it.

  9. My brother was a chef and always used fennel in his lasagna. Most everything Italian could use some I think, especially when it has tomatoes in it.