1. To make the stew: Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season pork with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. In batches, without crowding (and adding more oil as needed) add pork and cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 6 minutes per batch. Transfer pork to a plate.
2. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil to Dutch oven and heat. Add fennel, onion, bell pepper and garlic; cover. Cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon to loosen browned bits, until vegetables soften, about 8 minutes. Add sherry (or apple juice) and bring to a boil. Return pork with any juices to Dutch oven. Add enough cold water to barely cover pork and vegetables, about 6 cups. Bring to a boil over high heat.
3. Reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until pork is very tender, about 1 1/2 hours.
4. Just before the pork is tender, make saffron rice: Bring rice, 4 cups water, salt and saffron to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to very low and cover. Simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for at least 5 and up to 20 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork.
5. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pork and vegetables to a serving bowl and cover with aluminum foil. Let cooking juices stand for 3 minutes, then skim off the fat on the surface. Boil over high heat, uncovered, until cooking liquid is reduced by about half, about 10 minutes. Season juices with salt and pepper. Pour over pork and vegetables, and sprinkle with cilantro. Spoon saffron rice into bowls. Top with stew, sprinkle with cilantro, and serve.
* Instead of the rice, serve the stew with something else to soak up the rich juices, such as garlic mashed potatoes or a crusty bread.
* Chopped fennel fronds (if they are attached to the fennel bulb) can be used as a substitute for the cilantro garnish, as well as flat-leaf parsley.
* Recipe and photo courtesy of National Pork Board. For more recipes visit: