If, like me, you live south of the equator you will be scrounging the internet for warm, comfort recipes to get you through the chilly nights. Visual people might scroll through Instagram for inspiration, only to be taunted by our Northern Hemisphere foodie friends mocking us with their perfectly pastel-hued ice-cream cones and bountiful spring vegetables (@$$holes) while we sit and stare at a pumpkin and think to ourselves "Dear God, not pumpkin soup AGAIN".
So I'm pulling out the big guns this time - we are going to stick it up to those sun-soaked Northerners because they can take our asparagus and artichokes but they will NEVER TAKE OUR BACON!!!
bacon, sage and pepper rolled roast pork
1.5kg piece boneless pork leg (skin on)
12 large sage leaves, stalks removed, very finely chopped
3 rashers bacon (middle cut), finely chopped
2 sliced ciabatta
4 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tbsp black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar and pestle
Sea salt flakes and freshly cracked black pepper
String beans and baked potatoes, to serve
Carefully remove rind from pork. Using a super sharp knife (or Stanley knife) score the skin at 1 inch intervals in a diamond-shape pattern. Be careful not to apply too much pressure - you just want the skin scored, do not cut down into the fat. Place rind, cuts up, in a clean tray and pour over boiling water. This will open up the cuts. Place skin between paper towel and dry thoroughly. Wash and dry tray. Place skin back on tray, cuts up, generously sprinkle with sea salt flakes and place in the fridge for 4 hours (overnight, if you have time). The salt will draw out all of the moisture from the skin so you will have nice, crispy crackling. When you remove the pork from the fridge, pat dry with paper towel once again to remove all moisture.
Preheat a fan-forced oven to 220ºC.
Drizzle ciabatta with 3 tbsp olive oil (both sides). Grill under the grill setting of your oven until golden. Allow to cool slightly, then tear into large pieces.
Fry bacon in a non-stick frypan until crispy. Throw in the sage and pepper right at the end, giving it 30 seconds on the heat before removing pan from heat. Allow to cool slightly before throwing into the food processor with bread pieces. Blitz into a fine crumb.
Lay skin, cut side down, on a clean, dry board. Lay pork meat on top.
You will notice that your pork meat has a bit of a ridge in the middle (this is where your butcher removed the bone). Ensure this ridge is facing up - this is where we are going to put the stuffing. Use a small, sharp knife to cut a pocket into one of the fleshier sides of the meat. Cut the pocket deep enough to allow stuffing to fit, but be careful not to cut right through.
Stuff as much of the stuffing as possible into the pocket. You may have some left over so allow this to spill out into the middle ridge. Roll the pork into a tight roll, ensuring the stuffing is completely enclosed by the meat (the skin will probably not be long enough to go all the way around the roll - this is OK). Tie at 1 inch intervals with kitchen string to secure.
Place roll on a baking tray, skin side up, and drizzle with remaining olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 mins, then reduce heat to 150ºC and cook for a further 90 mins or until internal temperature of pork (make sure you are measuring meat temperature, not the stuffing!) reaches 77ºC. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 10 mins before slicing and serving with beans and potatoes.