For me, this dish is one for a Sunday – a perfect recipe to share with many. Growing up, a roast usually meant we had visitors, and my mum always While the pork is cooking away, you can sit back. The salad only needs minor assembly in the final moments before being dressed and whisked to the table. Perhaps serve with some roasted potatoes for a more substantial meal, however I quite like the idea of a rich roast and a wintry yet light salad as an accompaniment. A full shoulder of pork usually weighs 5 or 6kg, which is quite hefty, so here I have suggested for a smaller section of a shoulder, which I find to be more achievable for a regular weekend. Alternatively use a piece of pork belly, adjusting the time accordingly, as it requires less cooking time than the shoulder.
1 piece of pork shoulder, approximately 2.5 - 3kg
2 red onions, cut into wedges
1 large bulb of fennel, cut into wedges
2 apples, cored and cut into wedges
1tbsp fennel seeds
FOR THE SALAD
1 bunch of cavolo nero, stems removed, roughly chopped
A handful each of pumpkin seeds and walnuts
A large handful of croutons (made by toasting chunks of bread in a 180C oven for 15 minutes, or until dry and golden)
1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Score the rind of the pork (you can ask your butcher to do this) and pat dry.
2. Arrange the onion, fennel and apples on an oven tray and place the pork on top. Pound the fennel seeds in a mortar and pestle with some sea salt until roughly ground. Rub all over the pork and scatter over the onion, fennel and apples. Drizzle everything with a little olive oil and add a enough water to cover the base of the dish, being careful not to wet the pork rind.
3. Cook in the preheated oven for 20 minutes and then reduce oven temperature to 150C and continue to cook until the pork is tender and the crackle is golden and crunchy (approximately 5-6 hours), topping up with water if needed throughout the cook. The fennel, apples and onions will be super caramelised and golden, which is exactly what you want!
You can cook the pork for much less time, and although it will be cooked, it won't be as melt-in-your mouth tender. When cooked, remove from the oven and set the pork aside to rest.
4. Meanwhile, for the salad, combine the cavolo nero, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and croutons in a large bowl. Add the cooked onion, fennel and apple from the roast to the bowl and drizzle with some of the warm pan juices. These juiced will wilt the cavolo nero slightly and provide an amazing dressing for the salad. Check for acidity and drizzle in some balsamic vinegar. Season to taste and set aside.
5. Remove the crackle and set aside. Slice the pork and drizzle with remaining pan juices. Serve immediately with the crackle and the salad.