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Fennel Crusted Rack of Pork with Roasted Root Vegetables


Pork & Mustard Fennel Paste

8 lbs rack of pork, frenched (8-chop rack)

4 cloves garlic, sliced

1 tbsp fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped

1 tbsp dried sage

2 tsps fennel seeds, toasted in a dry pan over low heat until aromatic and then crushed

2 tsps dried thyme

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

Canola or grapeseed oil for browning

2 tbsps brandy

1/2 cup SIMI Landslide Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

1 cup organic chicken stock

Root Vegetables

8 ozs sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

8 ozs rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

8 ozs celery root, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

8 ozs parsnip, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

3 sprigs, fresh thyme

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 tbsps maple syrup

3 tsps kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

cayenne pepper

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 large leek, white part only, thinly sliced

1 large fennel bulb, stems and fronds removed and bulb cut into wedges


8 ozs mâche

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


For the Pork & Mustard Fennel Paste

To prepare the pork, using a paring knife, make 1/2-inch-deep incisions all over the pork and press the garlic slices into the incisions. In a small bowl, combine the rosemary, sage, fennel seeds, thyme, 1 tablespoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper and mix well. Using a pastry brush, coat the pork evenly with the mustard, then rub the herb mixture evenly over the pork. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add enough oil to film the bottom lightly. Place the pork, bone side up, in the pan and cook until well browned, about 4 minutes. Turn the rack over and brown other side, 3 to 4 minutes longer. Transfer the pork, bone side up, to a sheet pan.

Add the brandy to the frying pan over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, and boil for 1 minute, stirring to dislodge any browned bits on the bottom. Add the wine and cook until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Pour in the stock and boil until reduced by half, 6 to 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside off the heat.

Roast the pork for 15 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 350°F and continue to roast the pork for 15 minutes more.

For Roasted Root Vegetables

While the pork is roasting, prepare the root vegetables. In a large bowl, combine the sweet potato, rutabaga, celery root, parsnip, garlic, and thyme. In a small bowl, whisk together the 1/4 cup olive oil, the maple syrup, and 2 teaspoons of the salt. Pour the oil mixture over the vegetables, season with black pepper and a pinch of cayenne, toss to coat evenly, and transfer to a roasting pan. When the pork has roasted for 15 minutes at 350°F, add the root vegetables to the same oven and continue roasting the pork and vegetables for 30 minutes longer.

While the pork and root vegetables are roasting, add the apples, leek, fennel, and the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt to the same bowl that held the root vegetables. Season with black pepper and toss to coat evenly. When the pork and root vegetables have roasted for 30 minutes, add the apple-leek mixture to the root vegetables. Continue to roast the pork until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part away from bone reads 145°F and the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes more.

Remove the pork and the vegetables from the oven, tent the pork loosely with aluminum foil, lightly cover the vegetables with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes.

For the Garnish

While the pork and vegetables are resting, assemble the garnish. Put the mâche in a bowl, drizzle with the olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat evenly.

To Serve

To serve, slice the pork into individual chops and pour any juices that are released into the sauce, then quickly reheat the sauce. Divide the roasted vegetables among eight warmed dinner plates. Lean a rib of pork on top of the vegetables and spoon the pan sauce on the base of the pork. Place a handful of the mâche on top of each rib bone. Serve immediately.

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