- 2kg (4½lb) English free-range pork loin, on the bone and the skin scored (ask your butcher to do this)
- ½tbsp fennel seeds, lightly crushed
- a good grating of nutmeg
- for the polenta
- 40g (1½oz) dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in 1.2 litres (2pt) hot chicken stock
- 250g (9oz) coarse polenta (not the quick-cook variety)
- 1tbsp olive oil
- 40g (1½oz) unsalted butter, melted
- for the apple sauce
- 4 Bramley apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
- 1 small bulb fennel, halved and finely sliced
- 1tsp fennel seeds, lightly crushed
- 2 cloves
- 2tbsp caster sugar
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
Heat the oven to 220C, 200C fan, 425F, gas 7. To cook the pork, sprinkle the skin with the fennel seeds, nutmeg and lots of sea salt and black pepper, and place on a wire rack over a roasting tin. Roast for 25 minutes, then turn the oven down to 190C, 170C fan, 375F, gas 5 and roast for another 1 hour 25 minutes.
To make the polenta, strain the stock through a sieve, reserving the mushrooms. Bring the stock to the boil in a deep, heavy-based saucepan, then add the polenta in a steady stream, stirring until combined. Turn the heat down to a gentle simmer and leave for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sauté the mushrooms in a small pan with the oil until softened, then stir into the polenta with the melted butter, and season well.
To make the sauce, add the apples, fennel, fennel seeds, cloves, sugar and thyme to a saucepan along with 150ml (¼pt) water. Allow to heat gently until the apple starts to break up. Remove from the heat and set aside.
When the pork is cooked, remove from the oven and rest for 20 minutes. Serve the pork and crackling in slices, with the apple sauce and polenta on the side. Serve with green beans.
Where to buy: these are our favourite suppliers of top quality free-range British pork loin: Packington at ocado.com; godfreys.co; and graigfarm.co.uk, which also has organic.