“It’s like the ultimate hog roast”
– Gino D’Acampo
Roasted suckling pig is melt-in-your-mouth tender, full of flavour and makes an impressive display.
It is ideal for a festive occasion and has become our family tradition to cook it for Christmas. Traditionally, a whole pig is cooked very slowly in a pit in the garden, but I have adapted the recipe for a modern domestic oven. Ask your butcher to spatchcock, or flatten, the pig and cut it in half across. If you can’t source a suckling pig, use belly of pork on the bone instead. It goes beautifully with roasted vegetables.
– 1⁄2 suckling pig or 5kg belly of pork on the bone
– 10 twigs of fresh myrtle or sprigs of fresh rosemary, plus extra for garnish
– 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
– Freshly ground black pepper
For the sauce:
– 50g salted butter
– 6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
– 50g caster sugar
– 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
– 30ml vermouth (preferably Martini bianco) (optional)
Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas mark 7. Place the pig or pork belly, skin-side up, on a rack in a large roasting tin. Tuck the myrtle twigs or rosemary sprigs under the meat. Rub the salt all over the skin. Leave for 15 minutes.
Roast for 30 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 160°C/gas mark 3 and cook for a further 11⁄4 hours. Reduce the temperature to 120°C/ gas mark 1⁄4 and roast for a further 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, to make the apple sauce place the butter in a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Add the apples and cook for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the sugar, cinnamon and vermouth (if using), stir and boil for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for a further 20 minutes or until soft, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a serving bowl and keep warm.
Remove the meat from the oven and increase the temperature to 220°C/gas mark 7. While the oven is heating up, brush all the salt off the skin using a dry, clean cloth.
When the oven has reached the required temperature, return the meat to the oven and roast for a further 30 minutes or until the skin is golden and crispy.
To serve, place the meat on a large board and carve into 24 large chunks. Arrange the meat on a large warm serving platter and garnish with myrtle twigs or rosemary sprigs. Serve the apple sauce alongside the pork.
Hungry for more…See What’s On TV for Gino’s Italian Escape