NGW: Luzon Crianza 2008   4 comments

Ah, Miss Piggie, alas, I knew her well!

Many people do not like to see where their food comes from.  But I am not one of those.

I suppose that their perspective is somewhat understandable in this freeze-dried, shrink wrapped, time stamped, hormone injected, antibiotic infused, chemically preserved, no fat, reduced fat, low sodium, Reduced Guilt Age of Ours.

I especially love a good Pig Roast.  The primal urge to cook an entire animal is ever-present.  It is not for everyone.  But, it is within all of us.  Having grown up with it, I have no aversion to it.  In fact, I like knowing where my food comes from. 

This is not an everyday occurrence.  Yet, when presented with the carcass of a nearly entire animal (butchers are usually kind enough to clean the inside and remove and keep all the parts that chefs refer to as “the good stuff” for use in making sausage and other goodies) I feel a sense of responsibility.  Theoretically speaking this is no different from picking up a package of pork chops at the supermarket.  And yet it is.  Here before you are the remnants of a sentient being whose life was ended to the purpose of feeding a ravenous horde.  Here the tail.  There the head, eyes frozen in confusion and horror.  Here is the beast, fed and cared for, unwitting to its fate, sacrificed to the Gods of Barbeque.  It’s muscle and skin devoured in a celebration.  It’s bones sucked dry and picked clean.  Larger bones left for the hounds of the household.  I am not religious, but I quietly give thanks for the ultimate sacrifice another being has made.  Yet, I feel no remorse.  This is the way of the world– the culmination of the life or death struggle that goes on everyday throughout the world. 

These little piggies consumed, digested, and converted into nothingness within hours.  And yet, I feel no remorse.   It is what must be.

But I feel a sense of Obligation.  When you carve up an entire pig as I have done two times now, you learn to have respect for the life that was ended to provide sustenance. 

So for today, a recollection of Three “Little” Piggies that I have known.  My Personal Porcine Pantheon.

THIS PIG WAS A GAS!

Over the weekend, a friend was having a backyard pig roast.  He had invited 100 people– friends, acquaintances and business relations– as well as a special guest, a 50 lb. sow, to a summer’s end celebration at his house in suburban Connecticut.  As the house is located on a quiet, conservative, New England street, the approach to the roasting of the beast needed to be carefully considered.  He opted for the use of a 48 inch wide Weber propane gas grill with a rotisserie attachment.  I was a little skeptical– 50 pounds is a lot of weight to put on an electric rotisserie for 6 hours.  Add to that uncertainty the logistical question of whether such a large pig would fit into the grill.  Combine these complications with the fact that this friend had never attempted this and I began to think it might not be such a good idea.  I figured I had better lend a hand.    

Earlier last week, he sent me an email asking for advice on seasoning the beast.  When it comes to pork, I am a traditionalist– generous helpings of salt, pepper, cilantro and fresh garlic rubbed on the inside and out and inserted into slits into the skin. 

Yes, the kitchen smelled like garlic heaven.  You can see the bowl of seasoning we used. 

And in case you’re wondering, no Advil was added to the recipe.  This little piggie was way beyond headaches…

After we seasoned it, but before we dropped the marinade on it, we inserted the rotisserie rod, proctologically speaking, from stern to bow, if you know what I mean.  Incredibly, we had about two inches of clearance on each end of the rod.  So the pig would fit horizontally.  Next came the question of the legs.  Hanging freely would not do since the vertical clearance in the grill was only about 15 inches and pig, were it to be standing would be over 20 inches.  We solved that problem by tieing the legs to the body.  While not a classical way to roast a pig, short of cutting off the legs, this was the only practical solution.  Result– 12 to 13 inches at the widest point.  Naturally, we did a “cold run” on the grill to ensure we had clearance. 

Into some large plastic bags went our porcine guest, along with a bitter orange marinade: bitter orange juice (Goya makes a good one) infused with more garlic, S&P, cilantro and oregano.  

Fini!  And feeling good about ourselves, we sat around the fire pit drinking ourselves silly till past 1 a.m.  as we sucked down some nice reds.  While today’s NGW was not among them, it would have been right at home if only we had some. 

Luzon Crianza 2008 ($10.50).  The aromas promise so much– bramble and ripe fruit.  The Monastrell that we get from Jumilla, I sometimes find a bit cloying.  But not this one even though it is a blend that is dominated by Monastrell (AKA Mouvedre or Mataro) and has that gaminess that we often find with that varietal.  But wait, there’s more!  There is Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and these lend ripe blackberry, sage and plum skin flavors with mouth coating tannins on the finish.  Still, it may not be for everyone because Monastrell can present some challenges with that slight gamey finish. But the Tempranillo brings welcome acidity, the others tannins, amicable fruit and softness.  As a total package  this presents a very nice value and should be relatively easy to find.  Rated **1/2

When next I saw her, Miss Piggie looked a lot like this…

 

She was magnificent.

A FLAT PIG

Back in 2009, we borrowed a Caja China, from a good friend.  The Caja China (translated as Chinese Box) is a Cuban-American invention.  It signficantly cuts down on the cooking time for roasting a pig by virtue of two major features .  First, the pig is spatch-cocked, that is to say split in half and cooked flat.  Second, the pig is placed in the Caja China and hot coals are placed in a metal tray that acts as the lid for the box that sealing the dinner to be within the confines of a hot box as the meat is cooked from above.  Doesn’t sound like it would work, but boy does it ever.  Here’s a couple of photos from our Day with the Caja China.

Did I mention it was good?  Friends still mention the day I spatch-cocked a pig.

A PIG FOR THE AGES

My first experience with an entire pig came when I was a wee lad of 12 or so.  And I have to say, it was my greatest pig experience.  It is the yardstick, the paradigm, the sine qua non, the most ut.  Dad got a big ass pig.  Which the men put on a spit.  Just like in the movies, it was tied to a long rod.  We didn’t have electric rotisseries back then, so we hired a guy.  Yes, a guy who sat in the hot sun by the spit slowly rotating the pig by hand for many hours.  We kept him motivated with cold beers, the occasional bathroom break, and the promise of a few pounds of the stuff.  It was such a large pig there was plenty to go around. 

If any pictures were taken, they are lost to time.  But it looked a little like this:

I do remember the smell of the roasting flesh and the bread that was warmed on the hot coals as pig fat dripped on it from above.  That’s some large living, my friends.  The skin was dense and crunchy, salty and magnificent.  I have never eaten anything that good in my life.  Well at least that’s how I remember it.

And because we were given the entire pig including all the innards, there was some fantastic blood sausage that was made as well.  You can read about that by clicking on this link.

The little guy in the photo at the top of this page doesn’t have a guilty bone in his body.  Neither should you.  No-Guilt Wednesday (NGW) is not about compromising on quality.  It’s all about drinking good wine that does not break the bank ($15 or less), eating good food and of course, it’s about sharing with the ones you love.

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Posted September 19, 2012 by Sybarite Sauvage in No-Guilt Wednesday

4 responses to “NGW: Luzon Crianza 2008

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  1. Glorious piggishness! Alas, it is not for everybody. I remember going to a pig roast party when we were living in Austin, TX (roasted in a pit for a couple of days). We only stayed for a short while, as the host had the misfortune of showing my vegetarian husband how a pig should be eaten (huge slab in hand, juices dripping down his face and clothes, while saying, “It is so good!”, with his mouth still very full of pig. My delicate husband had to leave the party there and then. We attributed it to the heat and the smoke from the pit…

    • Sounds like your hubster has not been able to live down this episode. As for your host, I’ve said it before, I will say it again, “Don’t mess with Texas!”

      At this past weekend’s event, one guest arrived and promptly announced that she was a vegetarian and then under her breath, “I can’t look at it.” I’ll bet she has bacon at the local diner with her scrambled eggs.

      Pig Roasts are not for the faint of heart…

  2. That means more for the rest of us 🙂 or do you think it is wrong for Two Pigs to eat one of their own?
    Incidentally, we just got back from the Land of No Pig (i.e., Istanbul). But, not to worry, – they make up for it in many other ways.

  3. Okay, where’s “our” little guy on (NGW)?

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