Here we are again, in north eastern Italy in the region of “Friuli Venezia Giulia”.
Our friends the “fratelli ” (the brothers) hosted the traditional mega pig festival in celebration of all things that are PIG.
This is one of the long lost traditions you rarely find these days. Everybody celebrating, eating, drinking and laughing.
This year they slaughtered 2 pigs each weighing 300 kg (you can read my article about sausage making) and they invited about 300 friends all come expecting a feast involving all good things made from the pig.
Even when we parked the car, a little way away we could smell bacon wafting our way. Our taste buds started to work over time…
This year as usual we started with “una bistecca di maiale” a fantastically juicy bacon sandwich with salt and pepper in a crunchy bread roll. People were queueing to get their panino and a glass (or probably more !) of local red wine. Then they will get another one, then another one and another one..
The ladies in the kitchen were very busy cutting and cooking steaks to go in the panino.
Lots lots of wine is always a MUST at these parties but by this I mean good quality wine. The brothers only buy the best!
After the sandwich the family prepared a big meal for everybody. There were several courses:
A traditional regional soup with orzo (barley), beans and bits of sausage;
A bowl of pasta with pork ragù
And look at the size of the pot! Will this be enough for everybody do you think?
A pork stew with radicchio
Honestly I don’t know how they do it. The whole family including grandchildren and friends help serving the food. These guys are my inspiration!
In the end the smoking bones of the pig, which had been boiling in a large cauldron were served on trays. This is very traditional in Friuli.
The bones are served with a sprinkle of course sea salt. They say that the most tasty meat is the one near the bones.
Nothing is wasted: the fat of the pig is kept, to melt over a source of heat and used in cooking.
With the meat they will make steaks, salami, sausages, “ossocollo” which is made up of cured pork on the inside surrounded by sopressa salami, flavoured with spices and aromas and matured over a long period in the cellar.
Sopressa is made with just about everything: the ham, shoulders, sides, and so on. About the only thing that doesn’t go into it is the skin.
The ribs are kept for delicious summer barbecues.
With the skin chopped into pieces, the meat and the fat they will make cotechino which is traditionally eaten on New Year’s party with lentils and polenta.
Zampone has the same recipe of cotechino, except the mixture is stuffed into a deboned front pig leg, instead of casings. These sausages are supposed to bring fortune in the new year (with the lentils bringing money). The name “Cotechino” derives from the Italian word for pig skin, cotiche and as you might imagine, it contains a fair amount of them.