We’re accustomed to seeing lamb as an Easter meal; time was, baby sheep were birthed in the springtime only, and hence came to be a symbol both of spring and its central Christian feast.
Same was the case with newborn pigs, what we call the suckling pig (though for decades now pigs pop out year-round). Springtime pork roasts were the precursor to our Easter hams.
The most famed of suckling pig roasts, the Italian porchetta, remains a feature of Easter feasting in Italy to this day. In Italian, “porchetta” means “a small roast of pork” and was exactly that, a roast whole suckling pig, seasoned any number of ways. (The ancient Roman recipe included the small pig’s “liver and spleen” so, at base, it seasoned itself.)
Nowadays, neither the insides nor the outsides of kitchens commonly see suckling pig. In both Italy and everywhere else, porchetta has come to be a rolled-up, highly seasoned, then roasted mass of pork — a big square of belly, a butterflied shoulder, sometimes either surrounding a core of loin.
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The Sardinians roast a sort of “turducken” porchetta, the accarrexiau, a whole sheep stuffed with (in turn, one inside of the other) a kid goat, a suckling pig, a hare, and a partridge into the breast of which is stuffed a small bird. Whew, talk about pushing the envelope.
To prepare the traditional Italian porchetta, cooks make a paste of olive oil (or lard) mashed with garlic, showers of both ground black pepper and kosher or sea salt, and much aromatic herbing. While one camp …
Source:: The Denver Post – Lifestyle