Last weekend we slow roasted two locally sourced legs of pork (on the bone) and I must tell you that the meal was so delicious and full of flavour that we wanted to share this fantastic recipe and experience with you straight away.
Roast pork is popular in Bulgaria. Especially around Christmas time but not only. The most popular method remains roasting a suckling pig, which is more than a meal actually, it’s an event.
We are lucky to be neighbours with producers of traditional rare breed free range pork. They are traditional Black Pigs, born and reared outside. The pigs and are free to roam in spacious paddocks which encourages their natural behaviour and most importantly, they are grown slowly and patiently, partially fed on acorns. Consequently, the meat produced is leaner and more flavoursome, with a succulent texture.
We ended up having to nice and fresh joints on the bone which needed to be roasted. First thought was what we have available in the garden. Second, what will go well and enrich the natural flavours of the pig. At this time of the year we have onions and shallots, celery and carrots, garlic and rosemary. Do they go well with pork? You bet they do! We didn’t need anything more than that, really but time. Since we were not in rush and had plenty of time, sleeves were rolled up and few hours later we sat with the family to enjoy one of the most delicious meals in a while.
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time 4-5 hours
Pork leg, on the bone, around 2-3 kg (4lb)*
A little olive oil and sea salt;
A large handful of rosemary sprigs;
10 shallots, unpeeled, cut into quarters;
3 medium sized carrots, halved and cut into large chunks
A large handful celery leaves
1 head of garlic, halved
5 bay leaves
500ml bottle of beer (we used lager)
200 ml of white wine for de-glazing (optional)
*We used a joint of Black pig but you can go with what your local butcher has just make sure it not too big otherwise you might not fit it in your oven, plus you’ll need even more time to cook it properly.
Your butcher will most probably give you a leg with a layer of fat and skin. Start off with that – gently score the skin of the leg across in close parallel lines. Make sure you cut all the way through the skin to the meat, keeping in mind, the more scores you make the crispier the crackling.
Set the oven to 220°C (gas mark 7). Rub a little oil, then salt into the skin, and push rosemary sprigs into the meat where you can and spread the rest around. Spread all the rest of the ingredients around, too and pour over the beer. Cover the whole of the baking sheet with aluminium foil and that’s all the preparation, really.
Allow cooking time of 25 minutes per half a kilo (1lb), plus 25 mins. Roast the pork as high up in the oven as it will go for the first hour, then turn the oven down to gas mark 5 or 150°C for the rest of the cooking time.
When pork is cooked, transfer it to a hot platter, and leave in a warm place to rest for around 15 minutes before carving. Carry on with making the sauce for it.
Remove the carrots and celery from the pan (you’ll later use them to garnish your portions). Pour all the pan juices into a large measuring cup and spoon off the fat that rises to the top. Add the shallots and garlic (peels off, of course) and give the mixture a quick whizz with a hand blender.
Set the baking tray across 2 burners. Pour around 150-200ml of white wine onto the baking sheet. Bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Boil until the wine mixture is reduced by a third. Whisk in the degreased pan juices and you have a beautiful sauce for your just roasted pork.
Serve pork and sauce with roast potatoes and the cooked carrots.