My loveliest is singing in a local production of a musical, and we invited our friends Jennifer and Andrew out to visit, see the show, and be fed prime rib. Then we invited our buddies X-ina and Guerin, and also Lauren's boss and our friend Lee. Then Jen and Andy changed plans.
Still wanting to celebrate the show, and cook something special, we decided to wait on the prime rib, and instead I started thinking about gnocchi. The first time I made gnocchi, I thought to myself, well, I'll never do that again. I thought that the second time, too. I'm still making gnocchi. I made an extra-large batch, so there'd be some frozen extra gnocchi (it freezes quite well, uncooked; I don't know about par-boiled, but I think that would make sense too), and it is a lot of work to do it at all, so what the heck.
Last night, I made two different sauces for it - a gorgonzola cream sauce with spinach, much like the version served at L'Osteria in North Beach (SF). I added nutmeg (which I adore) and Kierschwasser to the sauce, to give it a different twist. The other sauce was an altered version of Mario Batalli's lemon sage butter sauce. There's leftover of the gorgonzola sauce, but you can't have any, because I'm mean.
Then came a salad, then came the main course - roast pork loin, stuffed with shallots, fennel, sage, and breadcrumbs, with a pan sauce made with some vermouth, my own demi-glace, and the drippings browned on the pan, along with long fine julienned carrots and zucchini, which I also roasted. I wish now I'd snapped a picture. The presentation was pretty cool, with the slices of stuffed roast down the middle of our big white porcelain platter, and the heaps of vegetables on either side.
I mean, I knew, as this plan started coming together on Thursday morning, that fennel would stuff pork very nicely. I didn't bargain for this to go so tremendously well. This was one of my best efforts, I think. But on balance, I gotta say, people who cook, you should stuff a pork loin with fennel. Your mouth will thank me.