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Braised Pork Chops and Fennel with Sambuca Sauce

May 23, 2012 by Joan Nova in Finishing Touches, Food Pairings, Marrying Flavors, Meat, Recipe Development, Sauce, Vegetables | 16 Comments

I hardly ever open my liquor cabinet anymore. There was a time when everyone drank mixed drinks and cordials (you can tell how long ago that was by the usage of that word). Yeah, I know ‘cocktails’ have made a comeback but, somewhere along the line, I became a wine purist (white, red or sparkling, but no hard liquor) — and most of my guests did too. Oh, there’s the occasional scotch drinker who visits, but that’s pretty much it.

So what to do with all that inventory?

When one drinks too much, they get ‘sauced’, right?
But when one cooks with it, they get sauce!

And that’s a very good thing!

I did a Sambuca sauce once before with salmon and really enjoyed it. Time to try it again — this time with pork.

What a winning combination! I can’t adequately tell you the depth of flavor created from blending the pan juices and sambuca with the aromatic vegetables. It was quite unique – with just a hint of sweetness. I definitely recommend it.

I’m always amazed at the transformation of fennel. Fresh-tasting, crunchy and licorice-y when raw; cooked it turns into a soft, sweet and very subtle-tasting vegetable. A complete metamorphosis.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Braised Pork Chops and Fennel with Sambuca Sauce
  • 2 center cut pork chops
  • 1 head of fennel, cored and cut in eighths
  • 1 leek sliced thin
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 6-8 grape tomatoes halved
  • ½ cup of chicken broth
  • olive oil
  • 1 pat of butter
  • dry seasonings (salt, pepper etc. plus dried anise*)
  • 2 ozs Sambuca Romana
How To
  1. Drizzle a little olive oil on chops and generously pat in dry seasonings.
  2. Sear both sides in hot pan.
  3. Add fennel, leek, tomatoes and garlic with chicken broth.
  4. Cover, lower heat to medium-low and cook till meat is ready to fall off bone.
  5. Remove chops and fennel.
  6. Add Sambuca and bring to a boil.
  7. Add 1 pat of sweet butter, reduce heat and blend remaining vegetables to create sauce.
Serves 2.

Finishing Touch: Fennel fronds*.

*I can never have enough of that flavor.

NOTE: Some recipes found on FOODalogue are offered without ingredient quantities. They're meant as a guide to food pairings and techniques to be experimented with … in your own kitchen … to your own spice and taste levels … to your preferred portion sizes … and to however many people you’re cooking for. A perfect meal has multiple levels of flavor and textures, bright colors and tastes, and healthy(ish) choices. It's all about enjoyment. Enjoy the process, the presentation and the just rewards...eating!


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  1. Oh I hear you about fennel! It’s one of my faves. I think the stars are aligned because I just made a pork and fennel dish too. The sambuca is a great touch Joan.

  2. I’m just now starting to get into making – and drinking – cocktails. So much so that we’re having a big Memorial Day bash on Saturday, part of which is a Cocktail Contest! We’re giving away some good prizes, too. I can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with!

    This pork dish looks divine. Another Foodalogue recipe to add to my must-make list!
    the wicked noodle recently roasted chile & garlic chicken burgers {plus a giveaway!}My Profile

  3. I saw the fennel and I was in. We have some growing in our back yard.Love your flavors
    angela@spinachtiger recently posted..Thomas Drugs Old Time Soda Fountain Operating Since 1930 in Crossplains,TNMy Profile

  4. A very good thing indeed. I just love your creations….
    Platanos, Mangoes and Me! recently posted..WE AREMy Profile

  5. I gasped aloud when I read “Sambuca Sauce” in the title of this post. Oh, how original, as always. I would so love to just get in the kitchen and cook with you–and maybe one of these days we will! This looks so interesting and just delicious.
    Flavors of the Sun recently posted..Mughlai Cuisine and a Gentle Chicken KormaMy Profile

  6. Thx for connecting with me on foodbuzz. I just subscribed to your blog feed and can’t wait to see what your next post will be!
    CJ at Food Stories recently posted..National Brown-Bag-It Day & Another AwardMy Profile

  7. I love this sauce! I can only imagine how well it goes with that pork.

  8. We are starting to serve up a cocktail at our parties too… my liquor cabinet will start to look like my parents soon… I try to add in a few tablespoons into cakes and frosting to help get rid of it! This sauce looks really good, I will start to look for more savory ways to get rid of the left-over booze!

  9. Sippitysup says:

    Cocktail? Mai’s Oui. GREG

  10. I keep quite a few spirits for cooking and Pernod is one of them, which I’m thinking could be used for the Sambuca in this. I too love the flavor of anise.

    Have a great weekend Joan.
    Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen recently posted..Homemade KetchupMy Profile

  11. bellini says:

    I do enjoy roasted fennel, although have come to really love it in salads too over the years. Love the combination of flavours here Joan and the plating is restaurant worthy!

  12. Lori Lynn says:

    Flavor heaven!
    Funny – I was just making a list of what to restock in my bar. Need Cognac and a high-end Vodka…

    Thanks for the inspiration to cook with anise flavored liqueur, I have a bottle of Pastis…
    Lori Lynn recently posted..The Kaleidoscopic Appetizer CourseMy Profile

  13. Katie says:

    I love a well-mixed cocktail, even more than wine! Sadly, I hardly ever drink cocktails anymore because they’re just not that popular here in Argentina, where wine is king. With that said, I love the licorice flavors of both fennel and Sambuca, and I bet the pork tasted fantastic! Daydreaming about this one…
    Katie recently posted..Linguistic Camouflage: Learning to Blend InMy Profile

  14. Love fennel,and its the prefect veggie to accompany a dish with splash of sambuca, looks really good.

  15. You are so right about the fennel Joan – it is a total metamorphosis! And I love how you’ve taken a handful of ingredients and turned it into true art :)

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors
    Devaki @ weavethousandflavors recently posted..It’s That Kind Of Day ~ Watermelon Basil SorbetMy Profile

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