Roast Pork Buns with Carmelized Onions and Fennel and Salsa Verde

Here is a great idea for outdoor eating — it’s best to try to always buy humanely raised pork such as Niman or Prather Ranch. These are the pork sandwiches we served at the 30th Anniversary Party on April 26th, 2009.


  • One 4-lb. pork roast, preferably rump or sirloin
  • Olive oil
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tsp. each cumin and coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp. fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp. coarse salt
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1 Tbs. each basil, thyme, and oregano
  • 1 tsp. each rosemary and sage
  • 4 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large yellow onions, peeled and sliced
  • 2 small heads (or 1 large) fennel, cored and sliced
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, washed and dried
  • 1/4 cup capers, rinsed
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Good pinch of sugar
  • 1 cup or more extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 large, soft hamburger buns
  • 2 cups baby wild arugula


To prepare the pork, score the fat of the pork, rub with olive oil, and season liberally with salt and pepper.

To make the rub, first toast the spices in a small dry frying pan until fragrant. Grind in a spice grinder. Then, put in the container of a food processor (or mortar and pestle) the garlic with the herbs, and process until smooth. Add the toasted freshly ground spices and process briefly again. Put this mixture all over the pork roast, put in a container, cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, remove the pork from the fridge, place in a roasting pan and allow it to come to room temp. Roast the pork in a preheated 450 degree oven for 10 minutes. Turn the heat down to 350 degrees and continue roasting, for 1 to 1-1/2 hours depending on the thickness of the meat. The meat is done when the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees. Halfway through the cooking, add a glass of water to the pan for juices. Remove the roast from the oven and let rest on a wooden board for 10 at least minutes before carving.

While the pork is cooking, cook the onions with a sprinkling of salt in the olive oil in a wide saute pan over moderate heat, stirring from time to time, until soft and beginning to color, about 30 minutes. Place the fennel in a baking dish, season with salt and pepper, cover with the onion mixture, cover with foil, and bake in the same oven with the pork (at 350 degrees) for about one hour, stirring once in a while. When the onions and fennel are soft, stir in the juices from the pork pan, taste, and adjust the seasoning.

To make the sauce, put the parsley leaves (without the stems) in the container of a food processor (or mortar and pestle) with the capers, garlic, lemon zest and juice, and sugar. Process until smooth, and with the motor running, pour in the olive oil until it has a thick sauce consistency. Transfer to a bowl, add salt and pepper to taste.

To assemble, slice the hamburger buns in half and lightly toast. Fill with sliced roast pork, sprinkle with coarse sea salt, cover with a large spoonful of the onion-fennel mixture, top with a generous spoonful of salsa verde, and a small handful of arugula, and serve.


Serves 6.