The distinctly strong pork flavour pares beautifully with the sweet cabbage and earthy mushrooms, and the brining prevents the loin from drying out.






Skill level

Average: 5 (1 vote)


  • 1 kg (2 lb 3 oz) pork loin, skin on and scored
  • 2 tbps light-flavoured extra-virgin olive oil
  • sea salt flakes
  • ¼ green or savoy cabbage, outer leaves removed
  • 120 g (4½ oz) pancetta, diced
  • ½ onion, finely diced
  • 2 celery stalks, finely diced
  • ¼ fennel bulb, finely diced, fronds reserved
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 150 g (5½ oz) swiss brown or pine mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 150 ml (5 fl oz) dry sherry or dry white wine
  • 750 ml (25½ fl oz/3 cups) chicken or vegetable stock
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • crusty bread, to serve


  • 1 tbsp black or white peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp aniseed
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 70 g (2½ oz) fine sea salt
  • 55 g (2 oz/¼ cup) brown sugar
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 250 ml (8½ fl oz/1 cup) boiling water
  • 270 g (9½ oz) ice cubes

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


This recipe needs to be started 1 day in advance.

Chilling time: 12 hours

  1. To make the brine, lightly toast the spices in a small frying pan over medium heat, until fragrant and just starting to smoke. Place in a large non-reactive dish with the salt, sugar and bay leaves and pour in the boiling water. Stir until the salt and sugar have dissolved, then add the ice and stir until it has mostly melted. Add the pork to the brine, skin side up, and top up with extra cold water to cover the loin (but not the skin), if necessary.
  2. Refrigerate for 12 hours, then drain the pork and thoroughly pat dry with paper towel to remove as much moisture as possible. Set aside, uncovered, to continue drying out.
  3. Preheat the oven to 230°C (445°F) fan-forced.
  4. Once the pork has come to room temperature, place it on a wire rack, skin side up, over a roasting tin and rub in half the oil and a good sprinkling of salt. Roast for 30–40 minutes, until starting to crackle on top. Reduce the heat to 170°C (340°F) and continue to cook for 40–45 minutes, until the juice of the loin runs clear when pierced with a skewer.
  5. Meanwhile, cut the cabbage into four wedges with the core attached to hold them together. Heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Add the cabbage and cook on each side for 4–6 minutes, until golden, then remove from the pan and transfer to a large baking dish.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium–high and fry off the pancetta for 4–5 minutes, until beginning to crisp, then add the onion, celery and fennel and cook for 12–15 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic, mushroom and thyme and cook, stirring frequently, for 8–10 minutes, until golden. Pour in the sherry or wine and simmer until the liquid has reduced to a syrup. Add the stock, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 15–20 minutes, until the liquid has reduced by half. Spoon into the baking dish with the cabbage.
  7. Increase the oven temperature to 230°C (445°F). Roast the cabbage on the bottom shelf of the oven for 10 minutes or until soft.
  8. Rest the pork for 12–15 minutes, then slice and divide among plates. Place the roasted cabbage on a serving platter, top with the fennel fronds and serve.


Recipes and images from Islas: Food of the Spanish Islands by Emma Warren, Smith Street Books, RRP $49.99