This impressive dish is broken down into simple streps by Gillian Bowler from her time on RTÉ's 'The Restaurant'.
- 1 suckling pig
- 12 carrots
- 12 sticks celery
- 6 onions
- 4 bay leaves
- 4 sprigs thyme
For the trotters:
- 1 free-range egg
- 1 tblsp cream
- 1 tblsp chopped sage
- 500 g duck fat
- 5 small onions, peeled
For the ear:
- 50 g seasoned flour
- 1 free-range egg (beaten)
- 80 g breadcrumbs
For the fondant potatoes:
10 medium potatoes
- 250 g diced butter
For the beetroot purée:
- 200 g fresh beetroot
- 100 g sea salt
- 50 g butter
- 1 tblsp water
For the sauce:
- 1 onion (peeled)
- 1 clove garlic (peeled)
- 1 tblsp olive oil
- 2 tblsp honey
- 1 can cider
- 100 ml chicken stock
- 2 tblsp chopped sage
- salt and black pepper
- To prepare the pig first remove the head and cut the ears off and set aside.
- Remove the front legs and the hind legs and chop off the trotters and set aside.
- Then run the knife down the backbone and remove the rack, the loin and the belly in one go.
- Cut away the belly from the front of the rack and remove the loin fillet. Use a sharp knife to remove the skin for crackling and then trim the rack.
- HEAD: Peel and roughly chop the carrots, celery and onions and place half of them in a large pot, along with half the bay leaves and thyme and place the pig's head on top. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 3 hours or until the meat is falling from the bones. Use a sharp knife to crack the head in half and then remove the brains from the head. Remove the meat in the cheeks and behind the eye sockets.
- TROTTERS and EARS: Remove the bones from the trotters and take out any meat. Place the trotters in a pot with the ears and boil for 1 hour, then remove both from the pot and leave to cool.
- Put the meat from the trotters in a bowl and beat in the egg, cream and sage. Fold in the meat from the head and season with salt and pepper. Divide this mousse between the 4 cooled trotters and re-shape them. Place each trotter on 2 sheets of buttered tin foil and roll into a Christmas cracker shape. Poach in some hot water for 8-10 minutes. Remove the tin foil and slice into portions and keep warm until service.
- Slice the ears into thin strips and dust with some flour. Dip in beaten egg and coat with breadcrumbs. Deep-fry until crisp and golden, and keep warm.
- SHOULDER: Remove the bones from the front shoulder legs and flatten the meat with a rolling pin. Season with salt and roll the meat tightly and secure with string. Drizzle with oil and some more salt and cook in a pre-heated oven at 180ºC / Gas 4 for 20 minutes. Remove and leave to rest, then cut into portions and keep warm until service.
- HIND LEGS: Put the remaining chopped vegetables and herbs in another large pot and put the hind legs on top. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 hours until the meat is tender. Then remove the meat, cut into portions and keep warm.
- BELLY: First season the belly with salt and place on an oven tray. Cover with melted duck fat and cook in a pre-heated oven at 110ºC / Gas 1 for 2 hours. Remove from the fat and place on different tray and put another tray on top. Place a heavy object on top to flatten the belly. Leave to cool and then place in a fridge for 1 hour. Remove and re-heat the belly for service and cut into portion-sized strips.
- RACK: Clean the bones carefully removing any sinews or fatty bits. Tie a string between each bone to form a neat shape. Sear the rack in a hot pan with a little oil and then transfer to a pre-heated oven at 170ºC / Gas 4 for 5-6 minutes, then remove, cut into individual chops, remove the string and keep warm.
- CRACKLING: Place the skin on a wire rack and pierce all over with a sharp knife. Put in a pre-heated oven at 110ºC / Gas 1 to remove the moisture from the skin. Then raise the heat to 170ºC / Gas 4 and cook for another 10 minutes or until the skin is crispy and keep warm until service.
- FONDANT POTATOES: Peel and cut the potatoes into the shape you want. Place them on a baking tray with the diced butter and roast in the oven at 180ºC / Gas 4 for 15 minutes. Turn the potatoes over halfway through cooking and keep warm until service.
- ONIONS: Cut the onions in half and place on an oven tray. Drizzle with olive oil and sea salt and roast in the oven at 180ºC / Gas 4 for 6-8 minutes, until tender and caramelized.
- BEETROOT PURÉE: Place the salt on a baking tray and arrange the beets on top. Roast them in the oven at 180ºC / Gas 4 for 12-15 minutes until tender. Remove and leave to cool a little, then peel off the skins. Chop the beets roughly and place in a Jug Blender and add the butter and water and blend until smooth. Re-heat in a saucepan before service.
- CIDER & SAGE SAUCE: Dice the onion and crush the garlic and sweat both in a hot pan with the olive oil for about 2 minutes. Drizzle the honey over the onions and leave the mixture to caramelize a little. Pour in the cider and bring everything to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer the mixture until it has reduced by three quarters in volume. Add the chicken stock and the chopped sage and bring back to the boil. Then reduce the heat again and simmer until the sauce has thickened. Season a little to taste and sieve the sauce and keep warm until service.
- TO SERVE: Place some beetroot purée on a serving dish. Arrange a portion of hind leg meat alongside, then a slice of the belly, a chop from the rack, a slice of stuffed trotter, a portion of roast shoulder, a piece of crackling and a strip of ear. Garnish with a roast onion and a fondant potato and drizzle with the cider and sage sauce.
This recipe is courtesy of Gillian Bowler from her time on The Restaurant.