I had some friends over for dinner on Friday night to help celebrate my birthday (which was the day before).
For the main course we had a pork roast stuffed with mushrooms. The pork was cooked in a kettle barbeque over charcoal and served with a potato and celeriac mash and also with roast carrots and beets. For dessert we had an orange and almond cake served with quince and sherry ice cream, topped with a marmalade and Gran Marnier sauce. All home made.
I have to say, that the pork was absolutely perfect and here’s how I prepared it.
A large deboned pork loin with the belly and skin (check with your butcher as you might have to order this a few days ahead). The piece I used weighed about 4kg (about 8.8 lbs)
1kg (2.2lbs) of mushrooms (I used about half field mushrooms and half rehydrated mixture of porcini and chantrells)
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup of chopped fresh thyme
Zest of 4 lemons
1 cup of salt
2 tbs of fennel seeds
Prepare the pork by using a box cutter (or any other type of razor in a safety handle) to cut thin strips about 7mm (about 1/4″) deep and about 7mm wide into the skin.
Roughly chop up the mushrooms and fry with the garlic and thyme until the mushrooms begin to brown. When the mushrooms are cooked season with salt and pepper, then add the lemon zest and remove from the heat.
Lay out the pork, skin side down and use a very sharp knife to cut a pocket into the loin (the large solid piece of meat at the end)and stuff it with about half of the mushrooms. Spread the rest of the mushrooms on the belly (the flat flap hanging off the loin).
Roll up the pork into a log and tie up with cooking string. Then rub olive oil all over the skin. With a mortar and pestle, grind up the fennel seeds with the salt and rub the mixture well into the cuts in the skin of the pork. Cover the pork and put to one side so it can warm up to room temperature.
In the meantime get your barbeque ready. Load up the charcoal trays up high to make a hot fire. It usually takes about an hour for the charcoal to be ready to cook with after it has been lit, which gives the pork time to warm up a little. Don’t start to cook until all the fuel is coved in a thin layers of white ash. If you don’t have a kettle barbeque you can use an oven at 180 C or about 375 F.
The best way to calculate how long to cook the roast (this works for the oven and barbeque) is to lay the pork down and measure how high the end sits above the surface that it is laying on. You cook the roast 1 minute for every millimetre. For example, my roast sat 140mm high so I cooked it for 140 minutes.
When your roast is cooked, take it out of the heat and let it sit for 30minutes. Don’t cover the meat with a non breathable material like foil because it will trap the steam and make the crackling go soft.