The Flexitarian Supper – Pork Stroganoff with Fennel.
This is a good example of the kind of flexitarian dining I enjoy. It uses a small quantity of ethically farmed Iberican pork, a cut called presa, from the shoulder which came from one of my favourite suppliers of specialist food in the UK, Unearthed Foods which you can buy from Waitrose or online from Ocado. I’ve actually been to Spain, to the Dehesa, and seen the pigs grazing on acorns, so I know how well cared for and happy they are.
Just 4 to 6 ounces or around 120g between two people, so a relatively small quantity, but meat which is tender, well-marbled with healthy fat (Iberian pork is high in unsaturated oleic fat, the same as olive oil, and the result is that it can reduce bad cholesterol). Pork is one of the lowest carbon footprint red meats – around a third of meat from ruminants like lamb or beef.
The recipe also works very well without any meat at all – the fennel adds texture and bite to the dish while serving the finished stroganoff with puy lentils will increase the protein and help you feel full for longer. But, I have to confess, I quite like a little meat – and presa is a delicious, full-flavoured cut.
This is the kind of easy dish that you can make with just a handful of ingredients. If you can’t source Presa, it would work well with pork tenderloin too.
I’ve used chestnut mushrooms, which I think have a little more flavour than normal closed cap mushrooms. And, shallots for sweetness. If you want a richer dish, you could use double cream and a little lemon juice rather than creme fraiche, but I was trying to keep the calorie count down a little in some vain attempt to lose weight before Christmas. For a really low-calorie option, you could try a mushroom only stroganoff or a mushroom and fennel version.
And, I’ve served the dish with puy lentils – the sort you can buy in a vacuum-sealed pack and keep in the larder to bring out when you need a quick dinner. That means the whole dish from start to finish will take about 20 minutes or less if you use two frying pans!
All you really need to do is slice the ingredients carefully so that everything cooks quickly. I dry fry mushrooms because they tend to soak up oil if they are not pre-cooked. Dry fry them for around 5 minutes and then add a little oil or butter to finish the dish.
Here’s the recipe if you’d like to try at home yourself.
Pork Stroganoff with Fennel
- 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small head of fennel
- 120 g chestnut mushrooms
- 120 g presa or pork tenderloin
- 2 tbsp low fat creme fraiche
- 2 small banana shallots
- 150 g puy lentils to serve cooked weight
- Core and slice the fennel
- Clean the mushrooms carefully, trim and slice
- Peel and slice the banana shallots
- Slice the pork into pieces around the size of your little finger
- Put the mushrooms in a heavy-based frying pan and heat gently. They will sweat a little and then gradually caramelize and soften. Once they look as if they are nearly cooked, dress with a little of the oil and put in the oven to keep warm
- Put the remainder of the olive oil in the frying pan, then add the shallots and cook gently over medium heat until they soften and start to brown at the edges. Then, put in the oven to keep warm
- Cook the fennel in the same pan until soft. If necessary, add a little water to the pan. Once the fennel starts to soften, put it in the oven to keep warm
- Raise the heat and pan-fry the pork for about 4 minutes, turning frequently till all sides are sealed.
- Return all the other cooked ingredients to the pan, season with salt and pepper and stir through the creme fraiche. Heat very gently till warmed through
- Serve with puy lentils and a salad garnish.
It’s a delicious recipe and one you can vary yourself in any number of ways.
Leave the meat out completely for a vegetarian option and, if you want a vegan version, replace the creme fraiche with oat cream and a little lemon juice. I love the aniseed notes that the fennel adds, but if you prefer you can leave it out and just add more mushrooms.
Looking for something different? do try my parsnip and apple soup with horseradish for a light, easy supper dish
And, if you are thinking of trying this recipe yourself, why not pin it for later