It's wild fennel season here in Oregon, which means its the right time of year to harvest fennel flowers. Also known as fennel powder, fennel flowers are a traditional cooking ingredient in Tuscany, and, though they cost a lot at the store, they're easy to harvest (not to mention free) if you live where wild fennel grows. Fennel flowers seem to be everywhere these days. In the spring, Mattie watched Tuscan butcher and celebrity Dario Cecchini use massive amounts fennel flower to add flavor to a pork dish, then I received the latest issue of Lucky Peach cooking magazine and it offered instructions for harvesting your own fennel flowers. After harvesting my own fennel flower, I looked online for a good recipe, but I couldn't find one that showcased the fennel flowers. As a result, I came up with my own, and I think it's simple and flavorful. But first, here's how to harvest fennel flowers in 5 easy steps:
|Find blooming wild fennel. Bring a knife and a brown paper bag.|
|Cut off the flowers.|
|Put in a paper bag, and let dry in a dry place (dampness causes mold). Alternatively, spread them out on a baking sheet.|
|After two weeks, the fennel flowers will have fallen off. Pour through a wire strainer to remove debris.|
|Take the remaining flowers and stems and thresh two or three times.|
|And now you have fennel flower for cooking.|
Fennel flower is good for digestion, and it is often paired with pork because pork is a less-tender meat. Here's a simple recipe for Fennel-Flower-Crusted Pork Loin Steaks.
Recipe for Fennel-Flower-Crusted Pork Loin Steaks:
Pork Loin Steaks
Oil For Frying (Canola, Vegetable, etc.)
1) Liberally rub fennel flower into the pork loin on both sides (you just harvested it; use a hefty dose), followed by thyme, salt, and black pepper.
2) Heat enough oil in a frying pan for frying pork loins (about 2-3 millimeters deep).
3) Pat flour onto both sides of the pork loin. Only use as much sticks easily.
4) Add pork to oil (be careful, it's hot!). Let cook on one side until you see the edges of the pork begin to brown. Flip, and do the same for the other side. For a 3/4 thick loin, I usually let it cook for 3-4 minutes on each side; cook until cooked through.