This Sunday is Father’s Day, so the next couple will be all about dad. My dad loves fennel. He also loves pork chops. We don’t eat pork chop that much in the house. My mom doesn’t love pork chops, but my dad and I absolutely love it. Plus it’s not one of the meats we buy in bulk at Costco. Regardless, every once in a while I try to sneak it in there. Anyway, my point is that it was pretty easy to come up with a recipe for dad. Thus, my fennel-crusted pork chops were born.
Like I said, my dad loves fennel. We had roasted chicken and fennel a few months ago and my dad just died over it. He kept asking, “What is this? I like it.” Then after we said, fennel, he kept repeating “I love fennel. I love it. It’s good. Who knew I loved fennel?” When my dad really loves something I cooked he does one of two things: 1) says absolutely nothing and engulfs his food or 2) keeps repeating how much he loves it. Now whenever we have fennel, he does the latter. Basically I knew the recipe had to have fennel.
Fennel is an herb from the carrot family. It originated it the Mediterranean but is used all over now. It’s got a very distinct smell and taste, is quite aromatic and when cooked can be very sweet. If you like anise then you’ll very likely like fennel; their tastes are insanely similar. In fact, the international grocery store I shop at mistakenly labels fennel bulbs as anise. You can also eat any part of the fennel–bulb, stems, and leaves–raw or cooked. The bulb’s texture is crunchy, like celery. And because eating fennel has so many awesome health benefits, it’s often used for medicine as well.
So, it shouldn’t surprise you that fennel is everywhere in this dish. First, start off by creating the fennel crust for the fennel-crusted pork chops. In two flat but deep bowls or dishes–deep enough to dip the pork chops in–prep the wet and dry ingredients. One dish should hold the egg wash where you’ll dip the pork chops first. The other should have the fennel-crusted mixture. This includes fennel seeds, panko bread crumbs, garlic powder and finely minced garlic cloves. From there it’s your standard batter situation–dip in the egg wash on both sides then press into the panko mixture on both sides. Fry until yummy goodness is fulfilled but before the juices dry out on the inside of the chop.
In addition to the fennel-crusted pork chops, I made a side of fennel as well. The side dish of fennel is super easy. When I was in college I used this same recipe with green beans and my friends loved it. I’ve never done it with fennel, but there’s a first for everything. Besides, I think it turned out pretty great. Anyways, the side has fennel with garlic and onions, sauteed in oyster sauce. The oyster sauce gives more depth to the natural flavors in fennel while balancing out its sweetness.
One of the things that I love most about my dad is that he and I have pretty much the same food preferences. He loves sweet things and has a pretty big sweet tooth–we love chocolate. We both like pork chops and meatballs probably way too much. We also tend to like things that my mom isn’t too crazy about, like pork chops. My mother taught me to make food with love, but my father taught me to love food and its different possibilities. Both were necessary for this blog to come to life, and for my passion for cooking to come alive. So, thanks for that dad. I hope that you loved this fennel-tastic meal that I made just for you!
What are your dad’s favorite foods? Perhaps fennel?!
Fennel-Crusted Pork Chops
- 3 lbs pork chops, bone-in
- salt + pepper to taste
- 3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
- 4 cloves garlic finely minced
- 2 tbsp fennel seeds
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 3-4 large eggs mixed
- 1/2 tbsp milk
Season both sides of the pork chops with salt and pepper. Set aside.
In a small baking dish whisk the eggs and milk. Set aside. In another small baking dish, add the panko, garlic, fennel seeds, and garlic powder. Mix together and set aside.
Heat a cast iron skillet with oil on high heat. Dip the pork chops in the egg wash on both sides. Remove excess drippings, then dip into the panko mixture. Push to add the breading. Flip and press into other side. Make sure to coat both sides in the breading before frying.
Fry in the skillet on both sides for 3-5 minutes, or until it is golden brown and cooked through. Serve with rice and a side of fennel!
Fennel in Oyster Sauce
- 2 bulbs fennel chopped without leaves
- 3 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 medium onion sliced into strips
- 1 1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
Add oil to a frying pan and heat on medium high heat. Saute the fennel and cook until soft and lightly browned, about 5-7 minutes.
Add the garlic and onions and saute until soft and fragrant, an additional 3 minutes.
Mix in the oyster sauce. You want to coat the veggies. Turn off the heat. Serve on the side with rice!