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Atafu (porchetta) pork with braised fennel recipe image

Print Atafu (porchetta) pork with braised fennel

This Italian pork recipe, adapted by way of Atafu in the Pacific, looks and tastes impressive, but is not at all difficult to make. The spare rib roll is most suitable for this because of its fat content but you could also use a good-sized loin. Fennel makes an ideal marriage with roast pork; braising it in this way sweetens its flavour remarkably.


  • For the pork:
  • 1 spare rib roll (pork shoulder), weighing about 2kg
  • 1 tbsp sage, chopped
  • 1 tbsp rosemary, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds, ground
  • 3 rashers of pancetta or smoked streaky bacon
  • For the fennel:
  • 4 fennel bulbs, trimmed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt & pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 160°C/Gas 3. To prepare to pork unroll and spread the joint out flat. Using a sharp knife, slash the meat at 5cm intervals to increase the surface area, being careful not to cut right through it. Rub the sage, rosemary, garlic, half the fennel seeds and some black pepper into the flesh.
  2. Lay the bacon rashers over the joint and re-roll it, tying with string. Rub some salt and the remaining ground fennel seeds into the pork fat and then put the joint on a baking tray. Place in the oven and roast for about 2 hours.
  3. To prepare the fennel cut each fennel bulb into 8 wedges. Heat the olive oil in a pan that is large enough to hold the fennel in a single layer. When the oil is hot, add the fennel and brown over a high heat, stirring occasionally.
  4. Remove the fennel from the pan and set aside. Add the garlic to the pan and cook gently for a few minutes, until softened but not browned. Return the fennel to the pan, season and mix well. Stir in 2 tablespoons of water and cook over a high heat for 5 minutes.
  5. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and cook for a further 30 minutes, being careful not to let the fennel ‘catch’ in the pan. When it is done, the fennel should have a darker, mushy appearance. Season to taste with lemon juice, salt and pepper, then serve with the pork.
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