Practically effortless but seriously tasty, this pork roast should be your go-to dinner for after-work company. Toss up a Caesar salad when you get home, and everyone will think you took the day off to cook.
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed
- zest of 1 lemon
- 3⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
- 1 21⁄4-pound boneless pork loin roast
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup Helles lager or witbier
- 11⁄2 pounds fennel, trimmed, cored and thinly sliced
- 11⁄2 pounds small red potatoes
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
1. Using a mortar and pestle (or the back of a spoon on a cutting board), mash the garlic with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add the fennel seed and coarsely crush with the pestle. (Alternatively, crush the fennel seed with the bottom of a heavy skillet.) Stir in the lemon zest and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
2. Trim the fat from the pork. Butterfly the loin by cutting the meat almost in half lengthwise, but leaving the edge intact so you can open it like a book. (Or, employ your butcher.) Coat the inside of the pork with the spice mixture, then fold it in half again. Tie it in 2 or 3 places with kitchen string, then sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Brown the pork on all sides, about 6 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.
4. Add the fennel and the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the fennel is golden brown, about 4 minutes total. Transfer to the slow cooker.
5. Add the beer to the skillet and cook 1 minute, scraping up browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
6. Add the potatoes to the slow cooker. Pour in the beer. Place the pork on top. Cover and cook on low 8 hours or high 4 hours.
7. Transfer the pork to a clean cutting board and let rest 5 to 10 minutes.
8. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the fennel and potatoes to a serving bowl. Add the butter, lemon juice and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and toss.
9. Cut the string off the pork and slice; the pork will fall apart as you cut. Arrange on a platter and serve with the potatoes and fennel.
PAIR IT WITH: a pilsner or a hoppy session ale; the light-handed hops draw out the fennel