Ever been to a pig roast? The kind where the meat of honor can take up the driver side of the car with both piggy feet touching the floor and still able to look over the dash, to tell the pedestrians to get the hell off of their piggy highway? (Don’t ask…it’s just safer that way.) The type of pig roast that the piggy is cooking all day long, till the fat has permeated the meat which is now falling off the bone? Where salt has been added to the cooking meat with the occasional round of sauce and spices? That’s what a full pig roast is about! /drool! Unfortunately we don’t have a full pig roasting, just a much smaller recipe of tasty piggy goodness.
We are bypassing the Romans today (and their wonderful piggy cooking) and going to Spain from the 14-15th century, for a taste of pork that is almost sublime. There is some discussion among Roman cook books that period pork was both leaner and tastier, due to the pigs being herded among the woods to forage among oaks and orchards for dropped nuts and fruits, thus lending a nuttier and superior flavor. This type of pig farming is still being utilized among Spanish pig farmers, centuries later, who raise of black Iberian pigs for specialty hams. (Hey at $200 a lb for jamón Ibérico de bellota – one type of ham…I’d call that an expensive specialty!) We aren’t going that rich though today.
Instead of a full sized pig roast, this recipe is on a slightly smaller scaled version, the kind where you can use a suckling pig (if you have a spit-roast in back) or just a really good pork loin on hand. Guess which one I had?
Porc en Ast
Roasted Pork Loin
Spit-roasted suckling ought to be eaten with ayllada blanca or with salt and pepper.
*Ayllada blanca is not given a definition. My thoughts are this is either a white sauce or a spicing per the following of salt and pepper in the recipe.
*Bacon: This manual mentions that bacon of period was referred to as carn salada or “salted meat”. “In the 14th century , medical philosophy held that smoke and smoky food were unhealthy. meat was usually cured with a combination of salt and air drying.” (McDonald, pp. 10). This was not always held in every area of the Medieval world for cooking as smoking was a viable way to preserve a varieties of meat.
(Banquest del Quatre Barres, pp. 5)
1 – 1.5 lb pork loin course ground salt
*5-8 strips of bacon
Now this recipe is the pared down essential of how to make pork loin taste divine (one of these day’s it’ll be the full sized version!). Not having a spit, I had to improvise a little.
I have a decent bit of pork loin here. I had originally taken a very large pork loin and cut the loin into 4 sections so as to maximize the different dishes I wished to cook while minimizing the cost. Always a good thing to keep in mind. The bacon is just a thick cut type and the salt a course ground sea salt.
The pork was salted on top and bottom then wrapped in bacon.
The bacon is held to the pork loin with the judicious use of toothpicks.
The bacon covers the slight layer of fat, leaving the leaner side covered with the bacon ends. Some cooks will argue that the lean side should be covered while the fat should be the pinned side. I preferred covering the fat as the fat side became the top of the roasting loin with all the fat drippings going down onto the lean meat and into the pan, keeping everything juicy and moist.
The original recipe does not suggest bacon or carna salada, yet modern pork needs a little extra help some times to retain flavor. I agree with the recipe that bacon should be added to help the flavor; however I salt prior to adding the bacon instead of after. My personal take is the bacon can be peeled off if desired (heresy I know!) but the salt is an intrinsic part of the taste for this recipe.
The meat is placed with the toothpicks down ward in a roasting pan.
I added a little bit of water at the bottom to keep the house from filling from smoking pork and bacon grease.
The loin was cooked for 30 + minutes (till done) at 350.
After removing from the roasting pan slices were cut along the bacon for 1″ perfectly done, incredibly taste pork. This isn’t a spit-roasted pig by any means; however this is a pretty close 2nd or 3rd if a spit-roast or grill isn’t available!