Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 2 hours
for the pork:
24 garlic cloves (divided)
3 large Spanish onions, sliced into 1/2-inch-thick half moons
2 fennel bulbs, frilly tops chopped and reserved, ribs discarded, and bulbs cut into 1/4- inch-thick slices
1 (3-4 pound) bone-in pork loin roast (5 bones "frenched")
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup fennel pollen
3 1/2 cups whole milk, divided
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
for the salad:
1 fennel bulb, fronds reserved, ribs discarded, bulb shaved
¼ cup celery petals
1 teaspoon fennel pollen
½ bunch cardoons, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, taste
1. Heat the oven to 400°F|200°C.
2. Smash 12 garlic cloves into a paste and place it in a roasting pan that is large enough to hold the pork loin. Line the bottom of the pan with the sliced onions, laying them over the garlic paste, then add the sliced fennel. Season well with salt.
3. Season the pork aggressively all over with salt and pepper, then sprinkle it with the fennel pollen. Make six 3-inch deep incisions along the bones, and stuff 1-2 garlic cloves into each incision. Place the pork roast on the top of the vegetables in the roasting pan and drizzle with 1/2 cup|125 ml olive oil. Pour 3 cups of the milk over the roast. Place the pan in the oven and roast for 65 to 75 minutes, or until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 140°F at its thickest part (do not allow the thermometer to touch the bone). Remove the pan from the oven and place the pork roast on a carving board.
4. Place the oven on broil and put the onions and fennel back into the oven. Cook until charred and the milk has reduced, about 15 minutes. Transfer half of the cooked onions and fennel, and all of the drippings and liquid, to a blender and blend for about 30 seconds. With the motor running, add in remaining ½ cup of milk, drizzle in the remaining olive oil, and blend until the sauce is smooth and thick. If it seems a bit too thick, simply add warm water, about 1/4 cup at a time, until it is thin enough to pour. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
5. Arrange the remaining onions and fennel in a pile on a warmed platter.
6. Carve the pork roast off the bone. Cut the meat into 1/2-inch-thick slices and arrange them over the onions. Pour a few tablespoons of the sauce over the meat, sprinkle with reserved fennel fronds and fennel salad. Serve immediately.
7. Pass the rest of the sauce in a gravy boat.
8. For the salad: Place all ingredients into a medium bowl. Drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss until evenly coated. Serve atop the pork.