Every summer, my husband and I host our gourmet group of 5 couples. The host and hostess plan the entire menu (which in our home translates to me) and also provide the cocktails, wine, main entrée and the side dishes. The rest of the recipes (appetizer, soup, salad and dessert) are assigned to the other four couples to either make or partially make at home and then bring to the party to finish and serve.
Starting each spring, I begin my search for the perfect al fresco recipes for our summer gourmet. Since we always host the group in summer, it normally includes a recipe for meat prepared on the grill so we can continue to socialize with our guests on the patio while preparing dinner.
Recently, I found an intriguing recipe for a roasted pork loin from Alice Waters. Searching through my cookbooks and on the internet produced many variations of and pork and fennel recipes so I combined several of them with mostly Alice Waters' inspiration to create this recipe. David Tannis also has a similar recipe in his new cookbook A Platter of Figs. It's no wonder his recipe is so similar to that of Alice Waters as he has worked very closely with her at Chez Panisse restaurant in California. Tannis suggested the possibility of cooking the roast outdoors on a grill.
Our daughter and son-in-law were the guest 'taste-testers' when I made this recipe a few weeks ago and we all agreed it was gourmet-worthy! Not only did it look beautiful but the flavor was fantastic!
Grill-Roasted Pork Loin with Rosemary and FennelPrintable Recipe
Serves 4 to 6
~adapted from a recipe by Alice Waters
3 lb boneless pork loin, tied at 2" intervals with butcher's twine
3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced very thin
1-2 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds
1-1/2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
Several branches fennel fronds
Several sprigs of rosemary
At least 8 hours, or, preferably the night before, make small slits into the bottom side of the tied pork roast with a sharp knife and insert the garlic slices. Season the roast generously with salt,pepper and crushed fennel seeds and drizzle with a little olive oil. Remove the leaves from one large rosemary sprig and chop coasely and rub over the roast. Layer enough fennel fronds and rosemary sprigs in a grill-proof roasting pan (I have an old heavy aluminum roasting pan) to make a bed for the pork roast and place the pork on the top. Place a few fennel fronds on the top of the roast also. Cover and refrigerate.
The following day, bring the pork loin to room temperature. Pre-heat a gas grill to 425°F with the center flame turned off. (Rather than grilling the roast directly over the coals, I decided to leave the roast in the roasting pan on it's wonderful herb 'bed'). Center the roasting pan over the middle grate and grill the pork loin,uncovered, until the internal temperature registers 130°F. on a meat thermometer, about 1 hour. Remove the roast from the grill, cover with a loose tent of foil, and let rest for at least 15 minutes.
Cut the strings from the roast,slice the pork and place on a warm platter with the now-carmelized herbs.
I also made a wine reduction sauce using a few pieces of pork cut from the roast which I browned in a saucepan, covered with beef stock and red wine and then reduced to a thin syrup. I added the pan juices from the grill-roasted pork, and reduced a little more. The resulting sauce was then strained, seasoned with salt and pepper, and served on the side.