Maiale con melanzane (pork with eggplant)


  • Serves 6 people

  • 125 ml (½ cup) olive oil
  • 3 onions, coarsely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup (loosely packed) oregano, coarsely chopped
  • 50 gm tomato paste
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • 750 gm canned chopped tomatoes
  • 500 ml dry white wine
  • 1 eggplant, thickly sliced widthways
  • 80 gm finely grated parmesan
  • To serve: bitter green salad
  • Brined pork neck
  • 325 gm coarse sea salt
  • 250 gm caster sugar
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 6 juniper berries
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 kg piece of pork neck
01   For brined pork neck, combine ingredients (except pork neck) and 1.75 litres water in a large saucepan over high heat. Bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve salt and sugar, then set aside to cool completely. Place pork neck in brine, weight with a plate and refrigerate to cure (6 hours-overnight).
02   Preheat oven to 150C. Heat 40ml oil in a large casserole over medium-high heat, add onion and garlic and sauté until tender (8-10 minutes). Add oregano, tomato paste and fennel seeds and cook until paste darkens (1-2 minutes). Reduce heat to low, then add tomato and wine and simmer until sauce thickens (15-20 minutes).
03   Drain pork from brine (discard brine), cut into 3cm-thick slices, pat dry with absorbent paper. Heat 40ml oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Add pork in batches and cook, turning once, until golden (1-2 minutes each side), then add to tomato sauce.
04   Wipe pan with absorbent paper, then heat remaining oil over medium-high heat. Add eggplant in batches and cook, turning once, until golden (2-3 minutes each side). Drain on absorbent paper, then arrange over pork, pushing gently into sauce, transfer casserole to oven and roast, covered with a lid, until pork is tender (2½-3 hours).
05   Preheat a grill over high heat. Divide pork and eggplant among 4 to 6 ovenproof dishes, spoon over sauce, scatter with parmesan and grill, in batches, until golden (3-5 minutes). Serve hot with bitter green salad to the side.
This recipe is from the May 2010 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.
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