"Porkpocalypse IV: The Forage Home," Dr. Adam J. O'Donnell's annual porcine celebration happened just over two months ago, but we began planning it in January, perhaps earlier.
As the name suggests, this was the fourth Porkpocalypse gathering. Aside from dubbing the guest of honor "Gracie," a rather morbid nod to Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, the Star Trek references ended there.
Gracie was a 65 pound female pig (that's approximate pre-slaughter weight).
Usually Drewes Brothers Meats owner Josh Epple would sling the carcass over his shoulder and carry it out to Adam's BMW, the trunk lined with sheet plastic and bags of ice.
Sadly, Josh was killed in a tragic motorcycle accident the year before.
Adam and I noted his absence as we loaded up his trunk.
We would prepare a rub and an injection marinade for the pig the night prior, I would crash in Adam's guest room, and we would be up before dawn on the day of the big event to get the coals lit.
This all seemed very routine.
The morning flew by: prep-lists were checked and re-checked, ingredients chopped, a pesto was made, and fixed. Adam, playing executive chef, chirped out orders and I acted on them. A trickle of helpers came in early, tasks were divvied up. It felt as if we formed an actual brigade, like a real production kitchen, me as sous chef driving the nuts and bolts as Adam watched and made course corrections.
Soon guests arrived, drinks were made, appetizers consumed, more drinks consumed, and then the guest of honor was lifted out of La Caja China, hand held blowtorches adding a finishing touch on the pig's skin.
The beast was carved and devoured.
- 2 cups of extra virgin olive oil.
- 4-5 hot Calabrian peppers ("in olio" - you want the good imported ones in oil).
- 1/4 cup of fennel seeds, roasted then ground.
- 1 good handful of basil leaves.
- 6-8 medium to large sage leaves.
- 3-4 sprigs of rosemary, stemmed.
- 2 bulb of garlic, peeled.
- Zest of 4 lemons.
- Juice of 2 lemons.
- 1/4 cup kosher salt.
Place ingredients in a blender and pulverize. Rub 1/3 of mixture on outside of pig, inject the rest into the hams, shoulder, loin and cheeks of the pig.
|Pre-dawn, firing the main course.|
Pistachio Pesto Recipe:
- 1 lbs shelled, unsalted pistachios.
- 1/2 lbs shredded Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
- 2 bunches of basil leaves, stemmed.
- 1 bunch Italian parsley, stemmed.
- 2 cups extra virgin olive oil.
- Zest of a lemon.
- Fresh black peppercorns to taste.
Place ingredients in a food processor and pulse until a consistent but not too smooth paste is formed.
Taste and adjust to your liking (more basil, more parsley, add herbs, more oil, more cheese, etc).
Transfer to a storing container or serving container and drizzle the top with extra virgin olive oil to prevent any browning.