Crackling, tick! Succulent meat, tick! Juicy veg, tick!
250g fine salt
4 fresh bay leaves
1 Tbsp white peppercorns
1 Tbsp whole allspice (find at specialty food stores)
2 x 4-point or 1 x 8-point rack(s) pork with skin on (about 1kg), unscored, bones frenched (ask
your butcher to do this)
40ml extra virgin olive oil
2 brown onions, skin on, sliced thickly
4 medium fennel bulbs, sliced lengthways
2 stems fresh bay leaves (big stems, if possible)
250g packet whole pitted prunes
200ml sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
To make brine, pour 5L water into a large saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add salt and spices then remove from heat. Set aside in pan to cool to room temperature then transfer to 1 or 2 containers (depending on number of pork pieces). Refrigerate until cold then add pork to container(s). Weigh down pork with a plate to keep submerged. Chill in fridge for 24 hours.
Preheat oven to 180°C fan-forced (200°C conventional). Remove pork from brine and rinse under cold water. Pat dry then set aside to return to room temperature. Discard brine.
Using a small metal skewer, pierce pork skin all over or score using a sharp knife. Heat a little of the oil in a large frying pan over a low heat. Add pork, skin- side down, and cook for 15–20 minutes or until skin is firm, golden and crisp.
Meanwhile, make a bed of onion, fennel and bay leaves in the bottom of a large roasting pan to act as trivet for pork.
Lay pork, skin-side up, on top of onion and fennel. Roast for 30–35 minutes or until internal temperature is 65°C on a meat thermometer. Remove from heat and set aside for 10 minutes to rest.
Meanwhile, put pitted prunes, sherry or red wine vinegar and star-anise in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over a medium heat. Cook for 4 minutes then remove from heat and set aside in pan for 30 minutes to allow flavours to infuse.
Transfer onion, fennel and bay leaves to a large platter. Top with roast pork, whole or carved, and serve with star-anise prunes.