Spiced Roast Pork with Fennel and Apple Salad

Photo by Marcus Nilsson

The chile paste for this pork is added in two stages: Initially it acts as a marinade and permeates the interior of the roast. After a second addition is applied, it’s roasted over high heat to create a spicy, toasty bark.  


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8 servings


  1. Pork:
    • 15 dried Kashmiri, guajillo, or New Mexico chiles, seeds removed
    • 5 pieces star anise
    • 3 Tbsp. fennel seeds
    • 2 Tbsp. coriander seeds
    • 2 Tbsp. cumin seeds
    • 1 Tbsp. peppercorns, preferably Tellicherry
    • 2 tsp. whole cloves
    • 6 garlic cloves, smashed
    • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
    • ½ cup vegetable oil, divided
    • 1 (4–5 lb.) boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), tied
    • 4–5 tsp. kosher salt, plus more
    • Flaky sea salt
  2. Salad and assembly:
    • 1 fennel bulb, fronds reserved, bulb cored, very thinly sliced
    • 1 Honeycrisp or other crunchy not-too-sour apple, very thinly sliced
    • 2 serrano or red Thai chiles, thinly sliced into rounds
    • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
    • Small handful of cilantro, finely chopped
    • Kosher salt
  3. Special Equipment:
    • A spice mill or mortar and pestle


  1. Pork:
    1. Cook chiles, star anise, fennel seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, peppercorns, and cloves in a dry small skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until slightly darkened and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Let cool. Set one-fourth of spice mixture aside.
    2. Blend garlic, vinegar, ¼ cup oil, and ¼ cup water in a blender until smooth. Add remaining toasted spices and blend, adding splashes of water if needed to help turn the blades, until chile paste is mostly smooth; some texture is okay.
    3. Season pork with 1 tsp. kosher salt per pound (check the butcher’s sticker on the package to see the weight of what you purchased). Smear half of chile paste all over pork; transfer to a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet or a roasting pan and let sit at room temperature at least 2 hours, or cover and chill up to 12 hours.
    4. Finely grind reserved spice mixture in a spice mill or with mortar and pestle. Transfer to a small skillet; stir in remaining ¼ cup oil. Set over medium heat and cook, stirring, until spices have darkened slightly and are fragrant, about 1 minute. Let spice oil cool, then transfer to an airtight container. Cover and set aside.
    5. Preheat oven to 275°F. Roast pork until paste is darkened and looks dried out and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 120°F, 1½–2 hours, depending on the size. Make sure to take the temperature in more than one spot as there will be thick and thin parts of the roast. Let rest 2 hours.
    6. Preheat oven to 500°F. Rub pork with reserved chile paste and roast until marinade has formed a fragrant crust and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 130°F, 8–12 minutes. Transfer pork to a cutting board and let rest 15 minutes. Thinly slice and transfer to a platter. Spoon reserved spice oil over pork; sprinkle with sea salt.
  2. Salad and assembly:
    1. Toss fennel bulb and fronds, apple, lime zest and juice, chiles, and cilantro in a large bowl; season salad with salt. Drizzle oil over and toss to coat. Serve pork with salad.
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