Wednesday, March 29, 2006

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??


At 4:11 PM, Blogger Niki said...

Oh yeah, I LOVE pork. In fact it's very weird - the last few days I've been craving roast pork with wobbly fat and crispy crackling and then I see the exact thing of which I've been dreaming on your site! Doesn't make my craving any less!
We actually have a porchetta like that on Christmas day. Because half the family is Italian we have a bit of a mix of styles, and a fab Italian butcher nearby prepares and stuffs it with herbs from the back garden behind the butchers shop. It's so delicious, even reheated in the microwave for breakfast on Boxing day.....ahem!

At 2:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is SO yum! I am not a huge pork fan either but...we went to a little place called Il Piave in Rozelle (NSW) a couple of wks ago and I ordered the suckling pig, and my god it was divine. It was very simply done with rosemary but the pork was moist and tender and succulent (you get the idea) and the crackling - talk about melt in your mouth...[drool]...and I am not even a fan of fat of any kind! ask anyone that knows me and i peel off the tiniest sliver of fat cos I just don't like the texture/taste. But this..exquisite heaven. I woke up the day after the dinner at Il Piave and was still thinking of it!

Porchetta is one of my faves but our local deli has stopped stocking it recently. I might just have to try the recipe out!

At 2:31 PM, Blogger neil said...

We love our pork too and yours looks fantastic. I'm wondering why you don't enjoy pork, because sometimes we don't either. Supermarket pork can be a gamble because they sell male pork which has an unmistakeable musky flavour that can be off putting. We buy pork from butchers that sell only female pork. It really does make a big difference.

At 8:54 AM, Blogger cin said...

wow, looks great. I can almost smell the fragrant roast and hear the crackling!
Thanks for the tip to, tankeduptaco!

At 10:15 PM, Blogger plum said...

HI Niki - well all I can say is that for the sake of your cravings I hope you didn't watch Jamie's Italy this week! He cooked a massive porchetta - I think it was an entire pig!

Hi um, Anonymous - it's so much better than the deli version. But cold, there was too much fat on the top layer for me, that's why it wound up being reheated.

Hi TUT - maybe that's it. I generally only eat Otway Pork but that doesn't mean that it's female. I have a hankering to seek out some of those heritage Long Black Pigs in the Yarra Valley!

Hi Cin - it was yum! And it's rare for me to say that about pork.

At 6:08 PM, Blogger Mary said...

Now that is love..
I know about pork.. every January my in-laws make home-made salami to last the entire year. The whole month is abound with dishes that make the most of the other bits we don't use for salami. I like pork but January is one long month.
Since you're not a fan, I won't delve into the details.. but have to ask, have you ever heard of n'duja??
The Calabrese preserve, essentially just the fat, although my in-laws now add some meat to a strong mix of dried chilies.
This spicy preserved fat is used to fry other things in and also tossed with pasta. Well cleaned, the meat has a wonderful spicy cured taste and the fat melts like butter. Sounds crazy but it is delicious.
I can't wait until the porchetta this summer (yep- entire pig on a spit)!
Thank you for the lovely photos to tide me over till then!


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