Preheat oven to 240˚C. 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 verjuice or wine 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 240˚C for 25 minutes until the pork skin begins to crackle, taking care it does not burn. Reduce the heat to 160˚C and cook for another 1 1/2 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 the rack for about 5 minutes before carving. Slice between the bones to separate into cutlets. Serve on a bed of mashed potatoes or Creamy Polenta and the cooked onion, apple or pear and fennel from the roasting dish, with the juices spooned over the top.
Serve with mashed potatoes or creamy polenta.
Sometimes I want a smooth, creamy side dish that’s not mashed potatoes. Polenta does the trick. It’s just ground cornmeal, so it’s handy for people on a wheat-free diet. Polenta is quite bland so flavour it with parmesan and herbs.
Prep time: 5 mins
Cooking time: 25–30 mins
Place the water in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the polenta in a slow stream, stirring, until the water is fully absorbed. Cover and cook over a low heat for 3 minutes until thickened (take care because it splatters). Stir in the salt, cheese and butter and serve at once as a creamy side dish.