So I actually didn't make this pork, but I made the fennel and apple salad to go with pork chops I grilled, and let me tell you, move over apple sauce, apple fennel salad is my new go-to pork chop condiment. ~Yes, I do consider myself an adult, and yes, I enjoy apple sauce with my pork chops.~ Anyways, my mom on the other, made the pork for my brother and his girlfriend and they all said it was amazing with the salad. Moral of this text blurb: don't be ashamed of your food pairings and this apple and fennel salad is good with anything. Enjoy!
- 15 dried Kashmiri, guajillo, or New Mexico chiles, seeds removed
- 5 pieces star anise
- 3 Tbsp. fennel seeds
- 2 Tbsp. coriander seeds
- 2 Tbsp. cumin seeds
- 1 Tbsp. peppercorns, preferably Tellicherry
- 2 tsp. whole cloves
- 6 garlic cloves, smashed
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup vegetable oil, divided
- 1 4–5-lb. boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), tied
- 4–5 tsp. kosher salt, plus more
- Flaky sea salt
Salad and Assembly
- 1 fennel bulb, fronds reserved, bulb cored, very thinly sliced
- 1 Honeycrisp or other crunchy not-too-sour apple, very thinly sliced
- Zest and juice of 2 limes
- 2 serrano or red Thai chiles, thinly sliced into rounds
- Small handful of cilantro, finely chopped
- Kosher salt
- 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- A spice mill or mortar and pestle
Cook chiles, star anise, fennel seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, peppercorns, and cloves in a dry small skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until slightly darkened and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Let cool. Set one-fourth of spice mixture aside.
Blend garlic, vinegar, ¼ cup oil, and ¼ cup water in a blender until smooth. Add remaining toasted spices and blend, adding splashes of water if needed to help turn the blades, until chile paste is mostly smooth; some texture is okay.
Season pork with 1 tsp. kosher salt per pound (check the butcher’s sticker on the package to see the weight of what you purchased). Smear half of chile paste all over pork; transfer to a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet or a roasting pan and let sit at room temperature at least 2 hours, or cover and chill up to 12 hours.
Finely grind reserved spice mixture in a spice mill or with mortar and pestle. Transfer to a small skillet; stir in remaining ¼ cup oil. Set over medium heat and cook, stirring, until spices have darkened slightly and are fragrant, about 1 minute. Let spice oil cool, then transfer to an airtight container. Cover and set aside.
Preheat oven to 275°. Roast pork until paste is darkened and looks dried out and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 120°, 1½–2 hours, depending on the size. Make sure to take the temperature in more than one spot as there will be thick and thin parts of the roast. Let rest 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 500°. Rub pork with reserved chile paste and roast until marinade has formed a fragrant crust and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 130°, 8–12 minutes. Transfer pork to a cutting board and let rest 15 minutes. Thinly slice and transfer to a platter. Spoon reserved spice oil over pork; sprinkle with sea salt.
Salad and Assembly
Toss fennel bulb and fronds, apple, lime zest and juice, chiles, and cilantro in a large bowl; season salad with salt. Drizzle oil over and toss to coat. Serve pork with salad.