"Porcetto (pronounced por-chet-o) is a suckling pig, no larger than 10kg. A classic Sardinian dish, this was on the menu of my first restaurant, Cala Luna, where I only cooked a few traditional dishes. While it's sometimes served with a drizzle of bitter honey, apple sauce isn't a traditional accompaniment, but I served it this way at Cala Luna due to popular demand. At Pilu at Freshwater, where it has become my most popular dish, I serve it with pickled apple slices, orange mustard fruit and salsa verde. Raw vegetable salad also makes a good accompaniment. It's important to cover the skin well with salt to draw out the moisture and make it crisp, as the skin is too fine to score the way you do with a larger pig. Sardinia is a big producer of cork, and this dish is traditionally served on slightly concave cork platters and garnished with myrtle leaves."
- ½ suckling pig (see note)
- For drizzling: extra-virgin olive oil
- For garnishing: rosemary leaves
- 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
- 1Remove pig from fridge 1-2 hours before cooking. Cover and set aside in a cool place to come to room temperature.
- 2Preheat 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).
- 3Meanwhile, 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.
- 4Remove 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).
- 5Place 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.