Cinghiale Roast Recipe
“Cinghiale simply means wild boar in Italian, and this recipe is my way of trying to recreate a dinner eaten in Umbria last year. I can’t pretend it doesn’t make a difference if you get a butcher to derind and roll the loin for you. It means you get the wherewithal to make fabulous crackling, plus you’ll get the bones that have been taken out. Roast these with the joint and the flavour will deepen, giving you meat with more taste and a gravy to boot. But I’ve made this with fatless, or pretty will fatless, ready-rolled boned loin of pork and it’s still good. That’s the marinade for you: not only does it bolster the relatively delicate flavour of the pork, giving it something of the tang and oomph of boar, it also overcomes one of the problems of supermarket meat — the leanness which when cooked turns into dryness — by tenderizing and, in a manner of speaking, moisturizing it. Like all meat, this pork is best when left to sit for awhile, well wrapped in foil. Which is just as well, as the separated rind will have time to blister and burn in the now hotter oven, turning, as it does, into the crackliest cracking imaginable. It helps if the rind is scored diagonally crossways, making shapes all over — or that was how my mother did it — so if you’ve got a butcher doing the boning and derinding anyway, you may as well ask for the harlequined scoring to be done at the same time.”
1 tbsp pink peppercorns
1 tbsp juniper berries
1 tbsp allspice berries
4 cloves garlic, bruised
1 tbsp molasses
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp dark brown sugar
1/3 cup Marsala wine
2 cups red wine
5 lb. tied pork loin, weighed without bones and rind (bones and rind are reserved)
Step 1: Crush the peppercorns, juniper and allspice berries in a pestle and mortar with the clove. Or if you haven’t got a pestle and mortar, just put them in a freezer bag and bash with a tin of something heavy. Turn into a bowl and add the bruised garlic cloves, molasses, oil, Worcestershire sauce and the sugar. Whisk together to disperse the molasses and sugar before adding the Marsala and wine.
Step 2: Put the pork loin into a large freezer bag and pour in the marinade, seal the bag well and try to get as much of the pork in the liquid as possible. Put in the fridge in a dish to avert accidents with leakages. Leave overnight or ideally for a couple of days. Keep the bones in the fridge, too, and wrap the rind in baking parchment to keep it dry.
Step 3: Let the meat, bones and rind come to room temperature before you cook them, and at the same time preheat the oven to 392ºF. Line a roasting tin with foil, as the sugar in the marinade will make the pan burn.
Step 4: Lay the bones from the pork loin in the bottom of the foil-lined roasting pan and take out the meat from its marinade and lay in on top. Pour 2 cups of the marinating liquid over the pork and put it in the oven, keeping back any marinade left to help make the gravy later. Roast the pork for 1-3/4 to 2 hours, basting the joint every now and then. The only way to tell the pork’s cooked is really by spearing it with a slim sharp knife. And be prepared for it to shrink enormously.
Step 5: After the pork has had an hour, put the rind in a shallow roasting tin and put it on the rack under the pork. It won’t actually cook that much underneath the joint, but it will render down slightly, getting ready for its blitzing later. So, when the meat comes out to rest, turn the oven up to the hottest it will go to let the crackling become everything it can become. After about 20 minutes, the pork will be perfect to carve and the crackling ready to be splintered into crisp amber shards.
Step 6: Meanwhile, make your gravy. Remove the bones from the oven tray (this is the best bit, cook’s treat) and pour whatever juices remain into a saucepan, tipping in the rest of the marinade and as much water as you need to dilute into a gravy. It’s so hard to give accurate directions here as, for example, liquid evaporates more in an electric oven than a gas one (and is why I prefer to cook meat in a gas oven). I’d start by adding about a coffee cupful off water and add more as the gravy heats on the hob. Whisk well before pouring into a warmed gravy boat or jug and again before serving to help disperse the oil, tasting as you do to make sure it’s as you want it.
Reprinted with permission from Nigella Lawson’s Feast: Food That Celebrates Life (2006 Knopf Canada).