BRACIOLI DI MAIALI O’ VINU (Sicilian for Pork Chops Cooked In Wine)

Unfortunately the camera did not capture the image I wanted to use – I needed a video camera to record the action. The piglets’ mother seemed very gentle-natured and was allowing the piglets to climb all over her. The piglets were frolicking, leaping into the air, chasing one another, tripping each other over. I had never imagined that piglets were as playful as puppies or a litter of kittens.

These photos were taken in the North Island of New Zealand, on the way to Napier. They were not the only pigs we saw in pastures, foraging freely with plenty of space. We returned to take a photo of other pigs close to Greytown but unfortunately it started to rain and the pigs retired to their ‘kennel’ to shelter from the rain and cold.

The photo below was taken in Mondello, close to Palermo in Sicily.

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Sadly, when my thoughts turned to food, I did think that the pigs would be supreme in taste and tenderness; as cute as these piglets are, I know that eventually they will have to face the butcher’s knife. Quality meat is achieved through keeping pigs in a stress free environment, able to graze their whole lives and free to roam. The care and quality of life that appears evident for these pigs points to a more humane end than what is apparent for the live cattle or sheep that are being  sent to brutal and cruel slaughters in some other countries.

Last time I ate these braciole (Italian spelling) I was in Ragusa at the country house of one of my relatives – these are the equivalent of Australian holiday or beach houses or weekenders. At that time I can remember us discussing “il suino nero dei Nebrodi,” the Sicilian Black Swine from Sicily’s Nebrodi Mountains in northeastern Sicily, which are very similar in appearance to wild boars: they are small and black and bristly. My partner and I had just returned from Monreale (near Palermo) where we ate some salame (photo) made from Nebrodi swine which still graze and forage in wooded areas. On that particular visit to Sicily I was very interested in Carlo Petrini and the Slow Food Movement and the Nebrobi pig is listed in the Ark of Taste, an international catalogue of heritage foods in danger of extinction.

The recipe for cooking the pork chops is easy, but when made with proper pig, the chops are very tasty.

INGREDIENTS
pork bracioli (chops) 6
fennel seeds, 1 tablespoon
red wine, 1 glass
water, 1 glass
rosemary or oregano, fresh, 6 small sprigs
lemon juice, 2 lemons
salt, and freshly ground pepper
PROCESSES
Make a small incision in each chop and insert either rosemary or fresh oregano.
Place chops in a fry pan in one layer with a little water and the salt.
Braise the chops (without a lid) and when the water has evaporated and they begin to colour, add the wine, fennel seeds and pepper.
Evaporate the wine, add lemon juice and serve.
If the meat is too lean, you may need to mix a little olive oil with the lemon juice (salmoriglio).

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