I’ll level with you – I debated using the crushed fennel called for in this recipe. Only instead of angels and devils battling it out, it was an anal-retentive chef on one shoulder and a tired, poor mom on the other.
Uptight chef: “Ze recipe calls for ze fennel, we should use ze fennel.”
Tired mom: “Should, schmould. Why is it called “Italian” roasted pork anyway? What’s so Italian about fennel? And besides, who has fennel in their spice rack?”
Uptight chef: “We have it. Uhzher people may have un petit amount.”
Tired mom: “Oh, give me a break! We only have it for that one meal from a year ago, and we haven’t used it since. Who’s going to want to go to the store for that? And besides, herbs always cost so much. Why bother?”
Uptight chef: “Why bahzher?! Why bahzher? Porquoi?! Because ze recipe say to!”
And on and on it went for days…
Is fennel the herb of choice when trying to keep costs down and recipes relatable? I think not.
Curiosity got the better of me, however, so I settled on adding both fennel and some Italian seasoning. It was yummy. I don’t think you’d go wrong by just adding the Italian seasoning and garlic.
This menu made 4 servings, at a total cost of about $8 or $2/serving! It helped that the pork tenderloin was on sale for $1.79/lb. We bought a 3.5 lb tenderloin and cut it in half – half for this meal and half for the pork chops planned for later in the week.
Italian Roasted Pork Tenderloin
- 2 pork tenderloins, about 3/4 pound each
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed, crushed (I used the measuring spoon to crush these against the side of the bowl)
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped (I buy the big jars of pre-chopped garlic at Walmart to save time)
- Heat oven to 375. Spray roasting pan with cooking spray. (I only had baking cooking spray with flour, so I just coated a cookie sheet with some olive oil). Remove excess fat from pork.
- Mash remaining ingredients into a paste with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Rub paste on pork.
- Place pork on rack in shallow roasting pan/cookie sheet. Roast uncovered for about 35 minutes or until meat thermometer reads 155 or when pork is slightly pink when cut into the center. Cover pork with aluminum foil and let stand 10 – 15 minutes until thermometer reads 160. I don’t tend to cut into my meat when I cook, and I don’t take chances with pork. Ever. I cook it until the thermometer reads 160, and then I let it rest for a few minutes to finish steaming. This may be overkill, but pink pork grosses me out. Huzz.
Once you put the pork in the oven, you can get started on the mashed potatoes. I use evaporated fat free milk to get the creamy texture without a ton of butter. I mostly eyeball the amounts used, so all measurements are approximate.
- 6 potatoes, white or golden
- 1/2 can evaporated fat free milk
- 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter
- salt and pepper
- Peel the potatoes and rinse. Cut up into a pan, cover with water and throw in about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of salt. I found myself adding more butter in the past just to make them salty. If you salt the water first, it is cooked right into them. Taste your water before you start – if it’s too salty, dump it and start over.
- Cook over medium-high heat until boiling, and then simmer until soft, 15 – 20 minutes.
- Drain the potatoes and put into a bowl with the butter on the bottom (the heat of the potatoes helps to melt the butter before you start mashing). Mash the potatoes, adding the milk until the desired level of creaminess is reached.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
The potatoes should get done at about the same time as the roasted pork tenderloin. While the tenderloin is resting, finish mashing the potatoes and throw some frozen corn in for Chef Mike to cook. To be honest, we could have gotten by with 4 potatoes (one potato being a serving), but we love us some mashed potatoes!
Viva la leftovers!
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