Some evenings just call for that little extra comfort and ease. After a busy day in need of something quick yet still mouth-wateringly delicious and satisfying, a one-pan dinner is always a winner in this case. I know on more occasions than one when I have been out all day or, in my days before becoming a mum, being at work, on my feet all day long, arriving home and in need of something that can be whipped up in a flash and can pretty much just take care of itself.
The beauty of this recipe is indeed just that. All on the one tray, popped into the oven and left to work its magic while you organise your little ones or just get yourself organised, showered and refreshed before sitting down to enjoy this delicious creation.
I have a great love for Pork, so you could imagine how excited I was when I found out that there was a beautiful farm not too far from where I live on the Mornington Peninsula. Where rare-breed Wessex Saddleback pigs go about their days rolling in mud filled paddocks, the sun on their backs and quite literally they are as happy as pigs in s*#t!! Woolumbi Farm produces ethically, sustainable, free-range and organic pork, beef and lamb products. As you make your way down the driveway, you can spy the pigs in their paddocks and are met with a warm, friendly smile by either of the owners, Kenneth or Sonya. One step into the white weatherboard barn that houses some of the most delicious produce your tastebuds will have the joy of sampling, it's no wonder why this little haven is such a gem.
As the owner, Kenneth, told me the first time I met him, "they (the animals) only have one bad day in their lives." And its so true, but that "bad" day then gives us something that brings so much joy and an opportunity to create meals that are shared with others, creating many memories along the way.
The importance of buying meat, fish and even fruit and vegetables direct from the growers and producers is something that I am extremely passionate about. For me, its the idea of giving back to people who are so very passionate about what they produce and by doing this they can continue to do what they love. Isn't this just the essence of what food is all about, bringing like-minded individuals together who share this unwavering love for the good things in life.
I hope this will ignite an interest in scouting around your local area to seek out some "hidden gems" of your own. Be that a farmers market or a small-scale, farm gate producer. You may just be surprised at what you find right around the corner from where you live!
Serves 2 hungry humans, or you could just double the quantities for 4.
2 free-range pork cutlets (or the best you can afford)
1 large fennel, thickly sliced lengthways, keeping the core intact (reserve the fronds)
1 apple, thickly sliced
1 large leek, halved and sliced into thick slices
a good amount of olive oil
1 tablespoon of fennel seeds
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1/2 cup macadamias
1 small lemon, sliced
3 garlic cloves, skin on and left whole
Pre-heat your oven to 220 degrees. line a baking tray with baking paper and place the fennel, apple, leek, lemon and garlic cloves in a single layer. Drizzle over the olive oil then scatter over the seeds and a little salt and a good grinding of black pepper. Mix them all together so everything is really well coated. Rub some more of the olive oil all over the pork and sprinkle over a little salt, rubbing this into the skin. Pop the pork on top and place into the oven for 25-30 minutes. In the last 8 minutes of cooking time you can then add in the macadamias.
When its done, remove from the oven and serve straight from the tray (less dishes makes the dishwasher upperer a happy person!) This does work really, really well with some creamy mash on the side. I usually just peel and dice about 3 dutch cream potatoes and boil these until super soft, drain and then place back on the heat while tossing them about so that they dry out a little. I then add a good knob of butter and start mashing this all together, adding some warm milk bit by bit and a touch of Dijon mustard, salt and pepper and then beating until its beautifully smooth and creamy. You can also squeeze out the garlic cloves from the tray and add these in too if you like.
And that's it, dinner is done. Now sit back, relax and enjoy every mouthful.