Roast suckling pig with scented apple sauce (porcetto arrosto con salsa alle mele)

AT A GLANCE

  • Serves 8 people

  • ½ suckling pig (see note)
  • For drizzling: extra-virgin olive oil
  • For garnishing: rosemary leaves
  •  
  • Scented apple sauce
  • 50 gm butter
  • 6 Granny Smith apples, cored, sliced
  • 55 gm (¼ cup) caster sugar
  • ¼ tsp each ground cinnamon and ground cloves
  • 30 ml Cinzano bianco
01   Remove pig from fridge 1-2 hours before cooking. Cover and set aside in a cool place to come to room temperature.
02   Preheat oven to 110C. Place pig, skin-side up, on a rack on a large baking tray. Drizzle with a little oil, rubbing it in, and cover skin generously with fine sea salt, rubbing it in thoroughly, then leave until skin becomes moist (about 15 minutes). Cook on the middle shelf of the oven for 30 minutes, then increase temperature to 150C and cook for a further 1 hour 20 minutes. Open oven door and reduce temperature to 120C, leaving door open for about 5 minutes to help temperature to drop. Close door and cook until the meat comes away from the bone on the back leg (40 minutes or so).
03   Meanwhile, for scented apple sauce, melt butter in a saucepan and add apple. Cover and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in sugar, cinnamon, cloves and Cinzano and boil for 1 minute. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until apple is soft but still chunky (20-30 minutes). Place in a serving bowl, cover and set aside.
04   Remove pig from oven and increase temperature to 220C. Cover pig loosely with foil and set aside for at least 15 minutes. Take off foil and, using a clean, dry cloth, brush off all the salt. Clean the roasting rack and place pig, skin-side up, back on the rack on the baking tray. Return to oven until skin is crisp (about 30 minutes).
05   Place pig on a clean chopping board and, using a cleaver or poultry shears, cut into about 25 large chunks. Arrange on a serving platter, garnish with rosemary and serve with scented apple sauce on the side.
Note Most butchers are reluctant to sell half a suckling pig (so you may be best to freeze the other half or share with a friend); Vic's Premium Quality Meat in Sydney sells half piglets and air-freights around Australia. You'll need to order a 7-8kg pig, halved lengthways, with the head and trotters removed.

This recipe is from the September 2012 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.

A Sardinian Cookbook by Giovanni Pilu and Roberta Muir is published by Lantern, $49.99, hbk. This extract has been reproduced with minor GT style changes.
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