Porceddu

 

Sardinia is not just a geographical island, but also a fiercely insular culture within Italy – with its almos unintelligible language to outsiders, its ecology, and of course its cuisine. The emblem of Sardinian cooking is the porceddu, the local word for ‘piglet’ – a delicacy almost impossible to find anywhere else. Its main ingredient is of course a suckling pig of no more than five kilograms, roasted on a spit. So where’s the difficulty to it?

 

First of all, the milk drank by Sardinian pigs is the result of a specific feeding with local stuff – including herbs and undergrowth which somehow end up influencing the flavor of the animal. Then the roasting fire comes from local aromatic brushes – first and foremost myrtle – that nicely smokes and flavor the roast. Finally, the preparation requires about four hours during which the spit must be closely watched all the time – not many cooks have the time (or the physical place) for this.
The ingredients – including the local sea salt used to massage the pig one week before cooking – are clearly important, but top tier porceddu also has another secret behind it. Su porceddu a carraxiu is the same recipe, but instead of spitting the pig, it is cooked over myrtle and arbutus embers in a pit dug in the ground. The animal is further covered with aromatic brushes to obtain an especially tasty result: only problem is, you just can’t make it unless you are somewhere in the Sardinian inlands.
The trick to spot a perfectly cooked porceddu is to check whether it flakes under your fork – and whether it is served on the traditional cork plate further enhancing its aromatic qualities. Porceddu is traditionally eaten with a very strong red wine called Cannonau, also a Sardinian typical product.