Pork And Other Acts of Love
The Figman loves pork. I do not. Often, a purchase of pork indicates that he will be dining alone that night and it is truly an indication of some sort of love that I gracefully conceded to his wish.
I present to you: FIGMAN'S WEEK OF PORK !!!!
It all started off with my search for a celebration dish. One glimpse at these ravishing photos at Nordjus and I knew I had found the main star. And the recipe, from Jamie Oliver's Italian papa, Gennaro Contaldo, was online and ready to go. Now this recipe provides for 10 to 12 helpings and a 5kg piece of meat, which even for Figman, is a bit much. I asked my butcher for a 2 to 3kg piece of Otway Pork belly with ribs and excess fat removed. Now I don't much care for the sight of raw meat, but this was a beautiful thing, sitting here glistening with salty crystals.
This is where the sage came in, along with chopped rosemary and thyme, garlic and fennel seeds. I'm not a fan of fennel either, but it worked really well in this dish and it was not overpowering. I might have halved the amounts of herbs and spices in accordance with the smaller pork belly if I had been paying attention, but as I wasn't and only realised mid-way, I left things as they were.
Trussed like a bastard. (I don't know why I said that, it just felt right!) There was a bit of controversy at this point, as the good Gennaro said to "tie it very tightly with string in the middle of the joint" and "then tie at either end about 1cm/½ inch from the edge and keep tying along the joint until you have used up all the string". Now the Cook's Book said to tie in the middle, but not tightly, and to work outwards from the middle instead. The Cook's Book had some nice step by step pictures so I decided to go with that. The string lengths were way too long, but that could have had something to do with the fact that my belly was missing several kilos. Ahem.
Now I like to at least pretend to follow recipes faithfully the first time, but I was a bit worried about the lack of piercing the fat. For crackling. But there were references throughout to crisp crackling and so on and I decided to wait respectfully. Until it became clear that no crackling was going to appear without my assistance and I pierced the now sizzling hot roast. I do not recommend this, but at least there was some crackling action in the end. I threw some chunks of pumpkin in when the temperature was reduced and they caramelized around the edges brilliantly.
The hot porchetta is pictured at the top of this post. Below are slices of it cold, the next day. I will find it hard to ever buy porchetta from the delicatessen again, this is so superior. It's fantastic for sandwiches or with a salad. This had quite a large layer of fat on top and reheated briefly in the microwave it became sizzling and delicious all over again.
And the rest of the WEEK OF PORK? Well, there were Pork Country Ribs baked in Plum and Lime Sauce with Garlic Hunks. There were Porchetta leftovers for a couple of days. The One Pan Sage-and-Onion Chicken and Sausage dish featured pork chipolatas. And some Otway Pork cutlets turned up with herbed mustard sauce. Do you think I can now get away without cooking pork for another year??