During the latter part of the week I usually start to mentally go through the contents of our fridge and attempt to plan the weekend's dinners. This past week, I knew it was going to be too damn hot to take an impromptu walk to the grocery store, which meant I needed to utilize the ingredients on hand. Luckily, we had plenty of goodies in the larder: fennel and asparagus in the fridge and several kinds of meat and fish in the freezer.
For Saturday, I settled on making something with the fennel and pork chops. Fennel marmalade came to mind. I don't know why, but I want to make jam out of everything these days (see Jam, Bacon and Jam, Red Curry).
It was pretty simple and turned out very well.
1 small onion, cut and half and sliced thinly (about 3/4 cup)
1 fennel bulb, sliced in half, cored, and sliced thinly (about 2 cups)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
grated zest of one lime
Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat Add onion, fennel, and salt. Cover and cook until onion and fennel start to wilt, about 10 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup of the brown sugar. Pour in the orange juice and reduce heat to the lowest setting. Simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the mixture starts to seem dry while the fennel is still on the crunchy side, add a few more dribbles of orange juice. Do not let the mixture burn.
After 45 minutes, add the rest of the brown sugar and raise the temperature. The mixture should bubble and caramelize. When most of the moisture seems to have evaporated, take the marmalade off the heat. Stir in the lime zest.
Place marmalade in a jar or a covered bowl in the fridge until ready to use. Makes about one pint.
I served it on top of simple sautéed pork chops that had been marinated in a bit of soy and crushed garlic for a couple of hours. On the side, I made a bulghur salad with asparagus, red and yellow tomatoes and a green cayenne pepper from our garden, scallions, mint, lime juice, cumin, goat cheese, and olive oil.
In hindsight, polenta might have worked better with the pork chop, but I thought the combination of hot pork chops and hot corn mush might be too much for this humid weather. Mr Minx thought it the cold salad was fine, so what do I know?