Slice the mushrooms very thinly and spread them out on a sheet of parchment paper (1). Place in a microwave oven and cook on medium power for 10 minutes until the mushrooms have shrunk slightly and are crisp but unbrowned. If they are not crisp, return to the microwave and continue cooking until they are. Leave to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, place the fennel seeds in a dry pan and toast over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly, until fragrant. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool.
Place the mushrooms and fennel seeds in a grinder and mill to a powder the consistency of freshly ground pepper (2). Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week or freeze for 1 month.
Remove the tops and root of the fennel, halve and shred the bulb finely. Heat the oil in a saucepan and add all the vegetables. Cook them for 5-6 minutes without browning. Add the vinegar and cook for a further 2 minutes, then add the chicken stock and simmer until half the liquid is evaporated and the fennel is tender. Remove and discard the carrot and shallot. If making in advance, transfer the mixture to an airtight container and store in the fridge overnight.
Cut the pork loin in half vertically to give 2 pieces. Take a piece and tie it firmly with kitchen string around the circumference every 4cm/1½ in (3) to ensure the pork keeps its shape during and after cooking. Repeat this process with the other piece.
Remove the pork from the pan and allow to cool slightly. Wrap each in a roasting bag (5).
Lay the wrapped pork on a roasting tray and roast for 1½-2 hours until the meat is slightly firm and has a core temperature of 64°C/147°F when it is measured with a digital probe thermometer. Once cooked, remove the pork from the oven but leave it wrapped in the bag until ready for serving — it will remain warm and moist for 20 minutes in a warm kitchen.
Dram the soaked beans and place them in a saucepan with the onion, garlic, thyme and bay. Add enough soft tap or bottled water to cover the beans by 5cm/2in and bring to the boil over a high heat. Reduce the heat to a slight simmer and cook for 20 minutes.
Add the salt and continue simmering for a further 15 minutes until the beans are cooked through, topping up the pan with extra water as necessary.
Drain the beans, reserving half the cooking liquid. Pass the cooking liquid through a fine strainer into a clean pan. Add the cream and beans. Bring to a simmer over a medium heat. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the cream slightly thickens. Season to taste.
Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place for up to 30 minutes — do not allow the sauce to become cold as it may split when reheated.
In separate pans, have the beans and fennel warm and ready to finish. When the pork is cooked and has been resting for at least 15 minutes, whisk the butter into the fennel and adjust the seasoning to taste. Warm the jus d’vin or glacé chicken stock in a small saucepan.
Remove the mixture from the pan and drain. Adjust the seasoning to taste and place it in the centre of the 6 warmed serving plates.
Slice each of the pork loins into 18 x 1cm/½in slices (7) and lay them on top of the escarole and mushrooms.
Add the chives and grain mustard to the cream and bean sauce (8) and spoon the mixture around the plate.
Drizzle a little red wine jus or glacé chicken stock over the meat, place the garlic confit on top and serve.
© 2001 John Campbell. All rights reserved.