This is a bit of a special weekend dinner and, despite how impressive the stuffed pork looks, it’s honestly not that hard to make. It’s an exciting dish and the end result will definitely blow you away, but you’ll have to take a bit of time with it and show it some love.
You’ll want to buy the pork from a good butcher and ask for a boneless loin of pork with the skin off (but keep it for crackling) and belly on. Keeping the belly on makes stuffing the pork much easier. A nice little tip is to ask your butcher to give you the bones, as these will make a brilliant trivet to roast your meat on.
Preheat your oven to its highest setting. Tear or roughly chop your mushrooms – thick, thin and wonky, it doesn’t matter, you want it chunky and rustic. Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat, add a lug of olive oil, the thyme leaves and mushrooms, and toss around a bit. Next, add the sliced garlic and knob of butter. Fry everything off for about 10 minutes until the mushrooms are browning a little around the edges. Add the lemon zest with a good pinch of salt and pepper, then remove to a bowl and let it cool. Once cool, add the bread and toss together.
Now turn your attention to the pork. Lay the loin and belly on a board, fatty-side down, and use a knife to make a little pocket between the loin and the belly meat. Stuff the cooled mushroom mixture into the pocket, then season well all over with salt and pepper. If you’ve got any garlicky, thyme and lemon juices left in the pan, pour these over the pork for some wonderful added flavour. Rub all the seasoning and juices into the pork.
Roll the belly around the loin and tie it tightly with 5 or 6 pieces of string to keep it all in place. If your butcher gave you the bones, scatter them around the bottom of an appropriately sized roasting tray – you want the pork to sit quite snugly in the tray - and put the meat on top. Place in the oven and immediately turn it down to 180°C/350°F/gas 4 so the meat cooks through nice and evenly. This is a good time to get the crackling ready for the oven, so score the skin with a small sharp knife to open it up for seasoning. Bash up the fennel seeds and salt in a pestle and mortar, rub a generous amount of this into the skin and place it on a baking tray.
After the meat has had an hour in the oven, take it out and add the chopped vegetables and remaining bulb of garlic to the tray, roughly broken apart into unpeeled cloves. Pour in the glass of cider and give the tray a shake to coat everything. Put it all back in the oven to cook for another hour. The crackling can also go in at this point.
Before the second hour is up, put a large pan of salted water on to boil. Peel and cut the celeriac and potatoes into even-sized chunks, then boil for 12 to 15 minutes until soft and ready to mash. Drain and let them steam-dry, then return to the pan with a good knob of butter, some seasoning and the milk. Mash until smooth, adding a splash more milk if you need it. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.
When the pork is ready, remove it from the oven on to a plate and cover with tin foil, so it can rest for about 20 minutes while you crack on with the gravy. You’ll have some nice roasted root veg and sticky goodness left in the bottom of the tray. Pour or spoon off the excess fat in the tray, then place it over a very low heat and pour in the stock a little at a time (you may not need to use all of it), using a potato masher as you go to mash up all the vegetables. Keep stirring to make sure you get all the lovely sticky brown bits off the bottom of the tray. Add the flour and keep reducing the gravy down until you get the consistency you like. Pass the gravy through a sieve to get rid of any lumps, then serve with the warm mash, stuffed pork and beautiful crackling.