Every festive feast needs a centrepiece, a hero of the dining table. My stuffed porchetta has a sense of occasion about it, trussed and roasted with glassy, mahogany-hued skin and a rich fragrance from the mustard fruit and apple stuffing. It's sure to get the table excited.
4kg boned pork loin with belly attached (one piece)
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
10 medium to large carrots, peeled and split in half lengthways
8-10 whole chantenay carrots, peeled (optional*)
2 branches fresh bay leaves
200ml quality chicken stock
400ml verjuice or white wine
1/2 large rye sourdough loaf (or about 300g), sliced, crusts on
2 garlic cloves
extra virgin olive oil
5 sprigs sage, picked
freshly ground black pepper
3 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and cut in eight
100ml verjuice or white wine
120g mustard fruits, finely chopped with a little syrup to moisten
80ml red wine vinegar
4 tbsp mascarpone
* Chantenay carrots are available in some supermarkets. If you can't find them, add a few more large carrots instead.
1. For the stuffing, grill or toast the bread until quite dark, cut the garlic cloves lengthwise and rub the cut surface all over the toast and tear into pieces.
2. Heat a wide saute pan over a medium heat, add a good splash of olive oil and heat until quite hot, but not smoking. Add the sage leaves, season and fry until crisp. Add the apples and toss over high heat until starting to brown. Add 100 millilitres of verjuice (or wine) and simmer until the apples are just tender, a few minutes.
3. Place the chopped mustard fruits in a large bowl with vinegar and a splash of olive oil, season and mix. Add the mascarpone and mix. Add the bread and, using your hands, massage well into the dressing. Toss in the apples and mix through.
4. Preheat the oven to 190C fan-forced or 210C conventional.
5. For the porchetta, score the pork skin with a sharp knife, then open the pork out and slash the belly flesh to take up the flavour of the stuffing. Season the flesh generously with salt and pepper and smear with the Dijon mustard. Pack in the stuffing next to the loin, roll up tightly and secure firmly with butcher's string in three centimetre sections.
6. Place the carrots in a large baking tray with the bay leaves, season, dress with oil and toss through. Rub the pork skin with oil and salt and place on top of the carrots. Pour the stock and 400 millilitres of verjuice (or wine) into the tray and roast for 30 minutes.
7. Turn the oven down to 150C and roast for a further two hours. Rest for 25 minutes before slicing thickly and serve with the carrots and pan juices (reduced if you like). You could also serve extra mustard fruits on the side.
Drink: Chenin blanc