This recipe for Italian suckling pig is definitely one for a special occasion with friends and family. Small enough to fit into a domestic oven, half a suckling pig will feed about eight people. And it's surprisingly simple to do - the results, however, are quite impressive.
- ½ (about 3.5 kg) suckling pig (see Note)
- extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle
- rosemary leaves, to serve
Scented apple sauce
- 50 g butter
- 6 granny smith apples, peeled, cored, thickly sliced
- 110 g (½ cup) caster sugar
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- 2 tbsp Cinzano bianco (see Note)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Resting time 1 hour 30 minutes
Drink 2008 Contini Tonaghe Cannonau di Sardegna. Or try a medium-bodied red with blackberry and spice characters.
Remove pork from fridge 1 hour before cooking. Cover and set aside in a cool place to bring to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 120°C. Place pork, skin-side up, on a wire rack on a large oven tray. Pour a little water into oven tray to prevent drippings from burning. Drizzle oil over meat, rubbing it in, and cover skin generously with salt, rubbing it in thoroughly, then set aside for 15 minutes or until skin becomes moist.
Place on the middle shelf of the oven and roast for 30 minutes, then increase temperature to 160°C and roast for a further 1 hour and 20 minutes.
Reduce temperature to 120°C and leave oven door open for 5 minutes to help temperature drop. Close oven door and roast for a further 40 minutes or until the meat comes away easily from the bone on the back leg.
Meanwhile, to make apple sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add apples, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until apples start to soften. Add sugar, cinnamon, cloves and Cinzano, and stir until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes or until apples are soft but still chunky. Transfer to a serving bowl, cover and set aside.
Remove pork from oven and increase temperature to 230°C. Cover pork loosely with foil and set aside for 15 minutes to rest. Remove the foil and, using a clean, dry cloth, brush off all the salt. Clean the wire rack and place pork, skin-side up, back on the rack on the oven tray. Return to the oven for 30 minutes or until skin is crisp.
Place pork on a chopping board and, using a cleaver or poultry shears, cut into large pieces and arrange on a serving platter. Sprinkle with rosemary and serve with scented apple sauce on the side.
• Suckling pig is available from selected butchers. Some butchers are reluctant to sell half a pig (you may need to freeze the rest or share with a friend). Order a 7-8 kg pig, halved lengthwise, with head and trotters removed.
• Cinzano bianco is an Italian white vermouth. If unavailable, use another white vermouth or dry white wine.
As seen in Feast Magazine, Issue 17, pg89.
Photography by Chris Chen and Alan Benson.