The Mint Shop

The Mint Shop

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Honey and fennel pork casserole alla Toscana

It seems that my abstention from meat has been gradually eroded with a final blow inflicted during the Christmas holidays in Tuscany. For some reason, it seems difficult to have a meal without meat. It comes open or hidden in a way or in another. And perhaps the cold required fats to burn.

During our week at home we had a day trip to Arezzo and Lucignano. Both of them appear in a film. Arezzo is in "La vita e' bella" (aka Life is beautiful - not to be confused with What a wonderful life which I did for some time...slightly different topic...) and "Certified Copy" which I *reviewed* a few blogs back (see the crusted sea bass).

There must be so little happening in Lucignano that the filming of Certified Copy must have uproared the entire village - film posters were everywhere. I was slightly disappointed and conned having realised that there is in fact no fountain in the main square. We searched for at least 10 minutes turning round and round to find the right one. In the end we came to the conclusion that the cunning director must have plonked a fake one in the middle of the square.

The village itself is so small that probably 20 minutes will suffice to see it all. But I imagine that in the Summer it must be quite pleasant to sit at one of the open cafes eating a gelato.

This dish has a very Medieval heart combining both honey and fennel. It would do well with some green vegetables like kale or green beans. Unfortunately we didn't have any of these (our 5 a day stopped at 11am after breakfast...).

Honey and fennel pork casserole (stufato di maiale al miele e finocchio)

For 2 people

200g pork
3-4 tbsp runny honey
1 tbsp fennel seeds
half orange
half lemon
2 sprigs of thyme
a splash of white wine
1 garlic cloves
1 spring onion
2 tbsp of olive oil

1. If you use a pork leg (highly recommended as it's got more flavour) bone it (pretty easy job, even for me who have not strength whatsoever) and dice it in smallish cubes. If you insist and go for the easy option, just unwrap your already-diced-pork and dump it in the plate.

2. Make the marinade by mixing all the above ingredients (except of course the pork and the wine/oil). Plunge the diced pork into the marinade and leave it in it for at least 15-20 minutes.

3. In a large pan heat the olive oil and then add another table spoon of honey. Turn well with a metal spoon as otherwise the honey will start forming a gloopy lump. Add all at once the pork together with the marinate and let it cook on vivid flames.

4. When the pork starts caramelising turn the heat down a bit and continue stirring.

5. Just before it is cooked, add a splash of wine and let it evaporate. Continue stirring without letting it burn. If it forms a slightly brownish coat, that's fine, it is actually quite yummy.

You can serve the dish with roasted potatoes (King Edwards so that they remain fluffy inside but become crispy on the outside, cooked in medium chunks in the oven for 30 minutes together with 2-3 tbsp of oil, a few sage leaves and the skins of the same orange you have used the juice of - we don't waste anything here you know?) and some greens of your choice.

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