Pork, fennel & leek braise

A slow cooked pork and fennel braise in a pomegranate sauce

For a number of years now, my husband and I have been obsessing over a recipe in Nigel Slater’s Eat for a chicken, leek and fennel braise. We make it all the time, and it is so tasty with some couscous on the side. This recipe is inspired by Nigel Slater’s recipe, but cooked in the slow cooker in a large batch for added convenience – both time saving and it makes an extra meal for the freezer stores.

As my baby is starting to be able to eat what our family eats, I have been starting to create recipes that will be adaptable for his meals as well. This saves doubling up on the cooking, and ensures that the transition to family dinners will be simple! Once his portion was put aside, I added pomegranate molasses for added depth of flavour and yumminess.

pork_fennel_leek_braise_1

Pork, fennel and leek braise

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients

  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1.5kg pork loin roast
  • 1 leek, halved and sliced
  • 1 fennel, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbs plain flour
  • 1 ½ cups low salt liquid chicken stock
  • 1 tbs pomegranate molasses
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup giant couscous to serve

Directions

  1. Heat the slow cooker up to ‘sear’ function or use a fry pan for this first step. Heat the olive oil and sear the pork on all sides until golden.
  2. Add the leek and fennel, and toss to soften for several minutes. Add the flour.
  3. Add the chicken stock and 1 ½ cups boiling water, then turn the heat down and cook on ‘slow cook’ function for 3 hours.
  4. Once cooked, remove the meat and vegetables to a saucepan and cover to keep warm. At this point, remove a portion for pureeing for baby if applicable. Turn the heat on the sauce up to ‘sear’ function again and reduce, adding the pomegranate molasses and salt and pepper to taste. Reduce the liquid by approximately half, so that it will form a thick coating on the meat and vegetables.
  5. Add the meat and vegetables back to the liquid, and serve on a bed of giant couscous cooked according to packet instructions with chicken stock. Top with fronds of fennel for garnish.

 

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Christmas Waldorf salad

A Christmassy take on a Waldorf salad with turkey and cranberries

I love Christmas and all of the food that naturally comes with it. However, so many Christmas classic dishes are winter themed. This does not stop me from cooking them, and my family still eats a hot roast turkey and a plum pudding on Christmas day, but it’s often not appropriate on a hot summer’s day.

I thought that I would create a Christmassy take on a classic Waldorf salad. It typically contains fruits – so what a perfect way to add dried cranberries, the classic Christmas fruit. I also included some sliced turkey, which is a great way to use up leftovers, or, to make this any time of year, just use some deli sliced meat. Toss in some cold cooked pasta to bulk it up into a main meal, and it is perfect for an Australian summer in the lead up to Christmas. You could take this to a BBQ, or simply eat it on a hot night. You will still get your Christmas vibes, but not swelter under the weight of a hefty roast dinner!

A Christmassy take on a Waldorf salad with turkey and cranberries

Christmas Waldorf salad

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients

  • 1 fennel, shaved thinly
  • 3 celery sticks, sliced diagonally into 1 cm chunks
  • 1 apple, grated
  • 80g sliced turkey breast, shredded
  • 6 tbs cranberries
  • 150g cold cooked macaroni pasta

For the dressing:

  • 3 tsp mustard
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 60g crème fraiche
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Prepare the ingredients and place in the salad bowl.
  2. Prepare the dressing in a separate bowl and whisk together.
  3. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine.

 

Fennel and apple soup

A cosy winter soup with fennel and apple

Winter is the season for homemade soup. I have fond memories of growing up eating soup for lunch at the weekends. Minestrone, pumpkin, and pea & ham were the family favourites.

For this soup, I experimented with a new discovery for me: fennel. I had never made soup with it before, and as it was in season, I thought I’d experiment.

A cosy winter soup with fennel and appleA cosy winter soup with fennel and apple

This soup balances the aniseed flavour of the fennel with the sweetness of the apple for a light but flavoursome meal. It goes well with garlic bread, and a garnish of sour cream.

I like to make extra portions of soup and freeze them for future weekend lunches. This time around, it came in handy for our first weekend getaway as a new family. With one night away and a little 4 month old in tow, we decided to book accommodation that had a kitchen and self-cater for dinner. And my fennel and apple soup was just the thing! Frozen, it was easy to pack into the car. And super easy to heat up in an unfamiliar kitchen. Yum! Hot, warming, homemade soup. Minimal effort for a cosy holiday dinner.

A cosy winter soup with fennel and appleA cosy winter soup with fennel and apple

Fennel and apple soup

  • Servings: 4 as a main
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Ingredients

  • ½ leek, finely sliced
  • 20g butter
  • 2 fennels, sliced
  • 3 apples, diced
  • 1-2 tbs plain flour
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • Fennel fronds, to serve
  • Greek style plain yoghurt, to serve

Directions

  1. Fry leek in butter in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan on a medium heat until soft.
  2. Add fennel and apples and fry for 3 mins.
  3. Add flour, and stir to form a roux with butter on the base of the pan.
  4. Add chicken stock and 1 litre of water and bring to the boil.
  5. Simmer soup until vegetables are softened, about 20 minutes.
  6. Puree soup with a stick blender until smooth.
  7. Serve topped with fennel fronds and a dollop of yoghurt.