Mustard and Brown Sugar Pork Tenderloin with Fennel Two Ways

This recipe celebrates the versatility of fennel. You can enjoy every bit of the vegetable--the bulb, stalks and even the fronds--if you just know how to prepare each part properly. Fennel is also a great partner for pork tenderloin, which you'll learn how to pan-sear and roast in this dish.
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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 35 min
  • Active: 30 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
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1 cup farro

Two 1-pound pork tenderloins

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons light brown sugar

2 medium fennel bulbs with fronds

1 large bunch scallions, thinly sliced

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

3 medium Medjool dates, pitted and finely diced


Special equipment:
an instant-read or probe thermometer
  1. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the farro and stir in a 3-finger pinch of salt. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook to your desired tenderness, about 15 minutes. Drain and set aside in a medium bowl.
  3. While the farro cooks, pat the pork tenderloins dry with paper towels. Season all over with salt, then rub the tenderloins with 1 tablespoon of the canola oil.
  4. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon canola oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the pork and cook, turning about every 2 minutes, until the tenderloins are golden brown all over, 10 to 12 minutes total. Transfer the pork to the prepared baking sheet and reserve the skillet.
  5. Pick the fronds from the fennel and set aside in a small bowl. Cut off the fennel stalks and thinly slice them crosswise; transfer them to a medium bowl of cold water and set aside. (The cold water will mellow the fennel's anise flavor and make the stalks extra crunchy.)
  6. Halve, core and cut the fennel bulb into a small dice.
  7. In the reserved skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the diced fennel and 1/2 of the sliced scallions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the fennel starts to turn golden, 5 to 6 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, combine 2 tablespoons of the Dijon with the brown sugar in a small bowl. Brush all over the tenderloins or rub on with your hands. Roast on the upper rack of the oven until the internal temperature reaches 145 to 150 degrees F, about 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a cutting board to rest for 5 minutes.
  9. While the pork is roasting, transfer the skillet with the fennel mixture to the lower rack of the oven and roast until tender, 5 to 6 minutes.
  10. Meanwhile, prepare the dressing: Combine the vinegar with the remaining 1 tablespoon Dijon in a small jar. Add the remaining sliced scallions, season with salt and pepper; stir to combine. Add the remaining 1/2 cup olive oil and shake until emulsified. Adjust the seasoning to taste. Pour into a medium bowl. Add the dates.
  11. Remove the roasted fennel and scallions from the oven and immediately add to the dressing. Drain the sliced fennel stalks, pat dry and add to the dressing. Finely chop some of the fennel fronds (reserve the rest for garnish) and add to the dressing. Stir to combine. This is your relish.
  12. Add 1/2 of the relish to the farro and stir well to combine. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
  13. Slice the tenderloins 1/4 inch thick. Serve with the farro, top with more relish and the remaining fennel fronds. Enjoy!