ROAST PORK WITH FENNEL, ONIONS AND APPLES
Ready in 2½ hrs Serves 6-8
1 whole pork rack (approx 2.5kg), skin scored finely 1 tsp fennel seeds Salt and ground black pepper, to taste 2 red onions, peeled and cut into thin wedges 2 apples or pears, cored and sliced into thin wedges 1 head fennel, thinly sliced (optional) 4-5 bay leaves 2 cups white wine or verjuice Preheat oven to 240C fanbake. Pat the pork skin dry with a paper towel. Grind the fennel seeds and rub them into the exposed flesh (not the rind) of the pork. Season with salt and pepper. Place the onion, apple or pear and fennel, if using, in a large roasting dish and top with the bay leaves. Place the pork on top, skin-side up. Pour the wine or verjuice around the pork, avoiding the skin of the pork as it needs to be dry to create crackling. If desired, wrap the exposed bones with tinfoil to prevent browning. Roast at 240C for 25 minutes until the pork skin begins to crackle, taking care it does not burn. Reduce the heat to 160C and cook for another 1½ hours. Check occasionally, adding a little water to the dish if it looks like it’s drying out. There should still be quite a lot of liquid at the end so you can spoon the juices over the meat to serve. Remove the pork from the oven, remove the foil, if using, and stand for about 5 minutes before carving. Slice between the bones to separate into cutlets. Serve on a bed of polenta or mashed potato and the cooked onion, apple or pear and fennel from the roasting dish, with the juices spooned on top.
Annabel says: When I see a recipe with an encyclopedic list of ingredients and a method with lots of steps, I switch off. The results might be amazing but it’s not for me. A dish like this that can be prepared in advance appeals. I like to serve it with creamy polenta or mashed potato to soak up the juices, and braised red cabbage.