Recipe: Charcoal roast pork with fregola and charred capsicum risotto

1h prep
3-5h cook

Barbecues are synonymous with warmer months, but there are some solid arguments for making the outdoor cook-up a winter staple too. After all, a bed of smouldering coals is just as good for warming chilly hands over as it is for roasting vegetables or cooking a beautiful piece of meat.

This recipe pairs the flavours of winter with the joy of a barbecue, incorporating some of our favourite ingredients along the way. Beautiful Spanish anchovies (and the olive oil they’re packed in) add seasoning and umami without any fishy flavour, so don’t be scared to include them. The lightly toasted fregola sardi, with its al dente texture, makes a terrific accompaniment to the barbecued meat, a hit of charry peppers adding colour and flavour.

We’ve put together a recipe kit with most of the key ingredients you’ll need to recreate this delicious meal at home. Just add quality meat from your butcher, a little stock and a few larder staples and you’ll be cooking.

If you don’t have access to a charcoal grill or kettle bbq, this recipe is just as simple to prepare in the oven, but there’s something magical about that charcoal flavour that’s impossible to replicate any other way, and something far less special about gathering friends around the oven with a glass of red on a cold, winter’s day.

Ingredients

Serves 6-8
2kg boneless pork shoulder or leg
3 anchovies, plus oil from the tin View
1 jar Piquillo de Lodosa whole peppers, or two fresh red capsicums View
2 slices day-old sourdough, crusts removed
3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 tbsp finely chopped Kalamata olives
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
400g toasted fregola sardi View
1 pinch saffron threads View
1/3 cup verjuice View
3 cups vegetable or chicken stock, warmed in a pot
70g cold butter
1 tbsp picked thyme leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

If using fresh capsicums, place them whole into a campfire, over charcoal or hold over a gas flame until completely blackened all over. Transfer them, while still hot, into a sealed container, covered heat-proof bowl or plastic bag. Leave to cool for at least 30 minutes. Remove the blackened skins (they should come away easily) and seeds, retaining the roasted capsicum pieces (we recommend making extra: they store well in the fridge and make a great salad or addition to a stew, sauce, soup or paella).

If possible, begin preparing the meat a day in advance, as leaving it overnight in the fridge will dry the skin and make quality crackling easier to achieve.

Combine the anchovies, 2 cloves of garlic, parsley, 2 tbsp of chopped roast red peppers, a handful of torn chunks of sourdough, freshly ground pepper and enough oil from the anchovies to lubricate the mix, and combine well.

Flatten out the meat, spread the anchovy/pepper/olive mix over it, then roll so the the skin wraps around the outside and tie with butcher’s twine. Rub more of the anchovy oil over the surface of the meat, taking care to avoid the skin. Place the rolled meat on a plate, rub a generous amount of salt over the skin, and keep in the fridge overnight (optional).

Remove the meat from the fridge at least an hour before cooking.

Light your charcoal and burn off until all bricks are glowing white.

If using a kettle bbq, place the coals to the sides and the meat in the centre of the rack away from the direct heat of the charcoal. Cover the barbecue and cook for three hours or until it reaches 78C degrees internal temperature measured with a meat thermometer.

If using a charcoal rotisserie bbq, set the meat on a slow spin over indirect heat for three hours or until it reaches 78C degrees internal temperature measured with a meat thermometer.

If using an oven, preheat to 160C, place the meat in a roasting tray and cover tightly with two layers of foil. Cook for two hours, then remove the foil and cook for an additional 40 minutes. Increase the oven to 230C and cook for a further 20 minutes or until crackling forms.

Rest the meat off the heat, covered with a sheet of foil, for 30-40 minutes, then carve into thick slices.

To make the fregola, heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large saucepan over a low heat. Add the onions and celery and cook, stirring often, until translucent (around 20 minutes). Add the remaining clove of garlic and the saffron and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Increase the heat to medium and add the fregola, stirring until well coated in the onion and oil mix. Add the verjuice and stir until almost completely absorbed, then add a ladle full of stock and stir until absorbed, repeating with more stock until the fregola is just al dente.

Stir in the remaining chopped red peppers. Add the butter and stir until melted, then season with salt and pepper and top with thyme. Serve with charcoal roasted pork and any remaining roasted red peppers dressed with a splash of sherry vinegar.

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