I had forgotten about this pork dish, a Tuscan classic that She Who Must Be Obeyed and I ate on our honeymoon in Italy, back when Sylvio Berlusiconi was first running for office and not being punched in the face.When I saw Anne Burrell make it (the same episode as the Passato di Ceci, video here), I knew I would be serving it soon at home.
I began with the pork preparation. I ordered a boned pork shoulder, skin on, from my butcher, who reserved the bone for me (soon to become a component of red beans and rice). I assembed the remaining ingredients for the filling: one bunch each of rosemary and sage, finely chopped, twenty thinly sliced garlic cloves, and a tablespoon of crushed red pepper flakes.
I miked the garlic, herbs, and pepper in a bowl, adding enough olive oil to form a loose paste.
I butterflied the shoulder until it opened flat, then spread the herb-garlic paste over the inside, finishing with salt and black pepper.
I rolled up the pork and tied it tightly, forming a skin-covered bundle. Look at that tying job; you’d think I was a pro or something.
While the pork rested, absorbing all of those lovely flavors, I gave my trusty santoku a workout, dicing two large onions, two large carrots, two celery ribs, and a large celery root. I also halved a pint of brussels sprouts and a pound of fingerling potatoes, smashed ten cloves of garlic, and tossed everything into a large roasting pan. I finished by adding ten bay leaves and a thyme bundle, as well as an entire bottle of white wine (Charles Shaw “Two-Buck Chuck” sauvignon blanc), and a generous sprinkling of salt.
I set the pork on top of the veggies and rubbed the skin with olive oil.
I put the beast into a 450°F oven and let it roast for forty minutes, until the skin started to crisp. I then added two cups of chicken stock and basted the roast and vegetables with the pan juices. I repeated this process every half hour for the next three and a half hours. After four hours total roasting time, I had this:
…and this pan of vegetables:
I cut off the string and let the roast rest for fifteen minutes, then I removed the skin in one piece.
She who must be obeyed appreciated the food porn moment and took another phto:
I cut the skin into eight pieces with kitchen shears, sliced the pork about a half inch thick, and plated it over a spoonful of the vegetabes and pan juice.
The entire house had become garlic and rosemary scented while the pork roasted — not a bad smell when there’s a Xmas tree in the dining room. The pork lived up to it’s aromatic promise: it was moist, tender, and infused with the herb flavors. I might cut back on the pepper when I make it again, the heat was on the verge of being overwhelming. The vegetables were tender and sweet, which contributed a wonderful richness to the pan juices.
Most importantly, it tasted like a certain meal in Tuscany eaten fifteen years ago.