Italian butchers really know how to put on a Sunday barbecue – in this case the whole hog – or rather the classic porchetta from Abruzzo on a spit.
By
Maeve O'Meara, Guy Grossi

5 Dec 2013 - 11:51 AM  UPDATED 30 Jun 2015 - 5:56 PM

Tony Marino was born in Fosacessia in Abruzzo and he has this down pat. Tony’s family really know how to eat well and the centre of each big get-together is the porchetta – the spit-roasted whole pig marinated with garlic, spices and herbs.

The family also make a very rustic dish called polenta sulla tavola, which is literally polenta on the table, served with a rich ragu (this sauce is legendary, watch Mama Marino put this together; it's the best!). I absolutely adore the flavours and the spirit in which these big rustic dishes are served. But, of course, the next day, cold porchetta thinly sliced is just as good.

The range of biscotti in the Italian realm is endless and the mere mention of the word conjures a vast array of these sweet buttery bites. There’s the classic cantuccini, the various almond biscuits, sugary crostoli and many more. No Italian meal is complete without forcing one or four of these down with coffee. Alexandra Rispoli shares a wonderful recipe for biscotti, which was handed down from the legendary Armando Percuoco.

When I first visited my dad's home region of Puglia, one of the things that struck me was the beautiful citrus fruits that grew there. I felt a little nostalgic when I visited Mildura and investigated the vast variety of citrus fruits that were growing. With heaps of different types of oranges and mandarins, you can’t help but feel like cooking. And one of the region's greatest chefs and food personalities, Stefano de Pieri, cooks up a storm. A jovial guy from the Veneto, my mother’s home region, he makes me feel welcome. His gregarious, cheeky personality promises that this is going to be a fun segment.

We make a delicious version of a lightly cured carpaccio with kingfish and orange. Stefano, once again, captures the bursting flavour of the region. Fennel is an underrated vegetable and whilst I’m still on citrus, what a great combination! Superfine slices of this anise-flavoured bulb dressed with olive oil and orange. This is a light and mouth-watering salad which I love, the perfect accompaniment for fish. I also really enjoy it as a braised dish, dressed with your favourite cheese, suh as gorgonzola or fontina.