Roast Rack of Pork with Fennel & Honey

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    5–6

Appears in

This is really quite simple even though it may seem fussy. Ask your butcher to prepare the meat for you by cutting it away from the bone and leaving it attached just at the bottom. Then, to serve, all you have to do is detach the last bottom bit and slice it up. Roasting it with the bones just gives extra flavour to the dish and it looks good. But, if you prefer, you can cook it from the beginning deboned — a simple loin of pork. You can easily get a bigger piece than this, depending on how many you will be feeding. If you prefer, use unsweetened clear apple juice in place of the wine. And you can brush the pork with some mandarin jam and mustard instead of the honey, if you happen to have some. Or leave out the last step of brushing with honey mustard and serve a plain unsweetened roast instead.

Ingredients

  • 2 fennel bulbs, trimmed
  • 1 kg(2 lb4 oz) pork loin rack, prepared as discussed below
  • 2 long rosemary sprigs
  • 4 potatoes (about 800 g/1 lb12 oz), peeled and cut into long wedges
  • 5 french shallots, peeled
  • 2 or 3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 150 ml(5 fl oz) olive oil
  • 125 ml(4 fl oz/½ cup) white wine
  • 3 or 4 sage sprigs
  • 2 tablespoons runny honey
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder

Method

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/Gas 6). Cut the fennel bulbs lengthways into 4 or 6 wedges that are still attached at the base. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and simmer the fennel for about 7–8 minutes to soften it a little, then drain.

Put the pork in a roasting tin and tuck the rosemary sprigs between the bone and the meat. Secure it closed with a skewer, or tie it with string so that it stays in place while cooking. Season all over with salt and pepper. Scatter the potatoes, shallots, garlic, bay leaves and fennel around the meat. Sprinkle a little salt over the potatoes, drizzle the olive oil over the meat and potatoes and pour the wine and 125 ml(4 fl oz/½ cup) of water around. Put one sage sprig on top of the meat like a crown and tuck the rest under the vegetables.

Put the tin in the oven and roast for about 1½ hours, turning the potatoes, shallots and fennel over and basting them a few times. The meat won’t need basting or turning over. By the end of the cooking time the potatoes should be juicy and crisp on the outside and the meat nicely golden and cooked through, but still soft inside. If something is ready before everything else, remove it from the tin and put it in an ovenproof dish. This can be put in the oven to heat through for a few minutes before serving.

Meanwhile, mix together the honey and mustard until smooth, pressing down with a spoon to squash out any lumps.

Preheat the grill (broiler) to high. Remove the roasting tin from the oven and move the vegetables to the ovenproof dish to keep warm in the oven. Brush the honey mustard over the meat and put it under the grill for about 5 minutes, until it crisps up and becomes nicely golden. Cut the meat completely off the bone and serve on a platter, carved up in slices as thin or thick as you like. Arrange the vegetables on the platter around the meat and drizzle some of the melted honey juices over the potatoes before serving.