Fennel Pollen Roasted Pork

I made this pork roast for a recent cooking class in San Diego and it was a total winner, so I thought I’d share the recipe on the blog. My husband loves a pork roast and often requests it for his birthday in October. He is quite particular about how it’s prepared; less ingredients being more, no fancy sauces, and always cooked pink. We all get “the talk” about how trichinosis is no longer an issue and how much more moist and delicious the meat is when not overcooked… but he’s not at your table, so you do it the way you like.

The star of the show in terms of seasoning is fennel pollen which is harvested from wild fennel. It complements the flavor of the pork like no other and is so fragrant—it makes the house smell amazing! This is not a pork tenderloin recipe but a loin roast. It’s a thicker cut, great for a crowd, and has a wonderful fat cap that helps keep the meat tender and flavorful. Do you know what else keeps the meat moist? Not overcooking it :). Get a simple thermometer—it will save you from dry pork every. single. time. 

A few things about this recipe: It’s a great option for entertaining because you can serve it at room temperature. I cooked two roasts before our cooking class on quarter sheet pans and just put them lightly tented on the back of the stove until we finished the class and were ready to eat.  Also, seek out the best quality pork you can find—purveyors such as Snake River Farms or Heritage Foods are wonderful resources for heritage breeds.  Also, pull the pork out of the refrigerator for at least an hour before cooking so it sears well and cooks evenly. If you have two ovens, set one to 500° for the sear and the other to 325° to finish the cooking (then you’re not waiting for the oven to cool off before you put it back in to finish). The best part of making a roast is the sandwiches the next day; a French baguette with mayo and lots of salt and pepper—deeelicous!

Fennel Pollen Roasted Pork

4 to 6 Servings (with leftovers)

For the Pork

2½ to 3-pound center cut top loin boneless pork roast

1½ teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt

1 teaspoon fennel pollen 

1 teaspoon sumac

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 teaspoon sugar

Extra-virgin olive oil  (for finishing)

Flaky sea salt


For the Grape Garnish (optional but super tasty!)

1 cup crunchy red or black seedless grapes, sliced in thin ovals

1 small shallot, minced

1 jalapeño, seeds and stem removed, minced

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves

1/4 cup sherry vinegar


Preheat the oven to 500°F. Place a metal cookie rack on a rimmed baking sheet. Dry the pork very well with paper towels and place fat side up on the rack. Mix the dry seasoning (yes, sugar and all—don’t skip the sugar it creates the best sear imaginable and a little goes a long way) and sprinkle evenly over the entire roast. Seriously, don’t skip the sugar, it creates the best seat in town.

Place the pork on the center rack and roast until the skin on the pork is crackling and golden brown about 15 minutes. Remove the pork from the oven. Now turn the oven down to 325°F (open the oven door to help cool the oven down, 10 to 15 minutes). Once the oven registers 325°F, return the pork to the oven until the center of the pork registers 135°F, checking the temp after 30 to 40 minutes. While the pork cooks toss the ingredients of the grape garnish together and reserve. Remove the pork and tent lightly with foil for at least 15 minutes; slice the pork, then drizzle any residual pan juices and hit it with best quality extra-virgin olive oil, spoon over the grape garnish and a sprinkling of sea salt to finish.