This recipe uses a few simple ingredients to create a hearty and delicious main course. The ground fennel seeds and Espelette pepper pair perfectly together as a delightful seasoning, especially when the garlic-lemon butter gets drizzled over the top of everything. —Josh Cohen
ground fennel seeds (freshly ground is best)
Espelette pepper (or substitute chili powder)
cloves garlic, minced
Juice of 1/2 lemon
In This Recipe
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Trim off the fennel fronds and reserve them for later. Trim off and discard the root end of the fennel bulb. Remove and discard any outer layers of the fennel that are bruised or feel too rubbery. Cut the fennel bulb in half, through the core of the fennel, cutting parallel to the bulb's wider dimension. Cut each half into thirds, making sure that each piece includes some of the fennel's core (the core will hold the layers of the fennel together). Place the cut fennel on a rimmed baking sheet, and drizzle with enough olive oil to just coat the outsides. Season lightly with salt and bake for 45 minutes. Every fifteen minutes or so, flip and rotate the fennel pieces on the baking sheet.
When the fennel has been cooking for 45 minutes, it's time to start cooking the pork chops. Leave the fennel in the oven cooking while you begin working on the pork chops. Season the pork chops with salt on both sides. Set a large skillet over high heat, and add just enough canola oil to cover the surface of the skillet. When the oil in the skillet just begins to smoke, add the pork chops. Let them cook, undisturbed, until the underside of each chop is nicely caramelized. You're aiming for a golden brown color.
When you have nice color on one side of the pork chops, flip them and cook the other side until it looks equally golden brown. Next, use tongs to hold the chops on their side for a moment to try to brown any fat on the exterior of the chops. Remove the skillet from the heat and transfer the pork chops to the rimmed baking sheet in the oven with the fennel. Don't clean the skillet, you're about to use it to make garlic-lemon butter. Season the pork chops and the fennel with the ground fennel seeds and Espelette pepper. Remember to season both sides of the pork chops and fennel. You should season the pork more aggressively than you season the fennel. Cook the pork chops in the oven until the internal temperature of the pork chops is 145°. Start checking the temperature of the pork chops after about 5 minutes in the oven. Keep checking every 5 minutes until they are fully cooked.
While the pork chops cook, remove any excess oil from the skillet. Add the butter and garlic to the skillet. Set the skillet over medium heat. Cook the garlic gently; you don't want it to burn. When the garlic just begins to start to brown, remove the skillet from the heat and add the lemon juice along with a pinch of salt. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any caramelized bits from the bottom of the skillet. These caramelized bits will meld into the sauce and add flavor. Set the sauce aside.
When the pork chops are fully cooked, let them rest for 3 minutes before serving. While the pork is resting, retrieve the fennel fronds that you reserved earlier, and pick a handful of the most tender fronds. Serve each pork chop along with some pieces of fennel, and spoon some sauce over the top of the pork and the fennel. Garnish with the fennel fronds. Enjoy.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, I'm perpetually inspired by the diversity of foods that exist in this city. I love shopping at the farmer's market, making ingredients taste like the best versions of themselves, and rolling fresh pasta.