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Spit-roasted Trojan Pig

by John A. Paschalidis
Australian Shooter March 2001

Searching through the accounts of Roman historians regarding culinary delights throughout the years, I often encountered the mentioning of the Trojan Pig. Macrobius mentions that this particular recipe was named after the Greeks had left a hollow wooden horse outside Troy’s gates, containing vengeful Greek warriors with drawn swords for Troy’s slaughter in its belly. Other historians mention that the recipe contained fattened fowl, cockerels with fine combs and other Roman delicacies, like fattened sow’s udders and fat eels wrapped in pastry. The whole idea behind it was the fact that when Romans mention pig, they mean wild boar, Sus Scrofa, and with the wild boar meat being lean and almost free of fat, they packed fattened fowls in the chest cavity to improve its rather dry texture.

CampfireIt was a famous dish at gladiatorial contests, chariot races and the inaugural banquets of newly appointed Emperors held after their triumphs, returning victorious from the field of battle or wild boar hunts and other public feasts and ceremonies in the legionary camps.

I’ve often tasted this superb dish in remote mountain villages of Greek Macedonian Florina and always at communal occasions, like weddings and christenings of shepherds and bag-pipers. The remoteness of that region - at the border of ancient Roman Illyria - ensured the preservation of Roman cuisine in an area where the wild boars are still huge. I often used a heavy, hand-made .67 Hawken and although it kicked like a mule, that 16-gauge round ball passed through their cartilage like a hot knife through butter.

Transferring that ancient Roman recipe to our modern Australian needs, although we don’t have wild boars in our country, we do have plenty of very impressive specimens of feral pigs and their meat is perfectly eligible to be cooked in the Trojan way. So, with your pig field-dressed and its liver checked for safety, I couldn’t think of a better way to have that big, memorable feast fit for an emperor at the hunting camp, the shearing shed or that trendy suburban backyard barbecue where you’ll become the envy of your neighbours.

After washing and sponging your pig from all dried up blood, especially around the area where the bullet passed, you can stuff its chest cavity with fattened fowls wrapped in bacon to counterbalance the lost fat issue. You can also include lamb mince and a rice stuffing mixture involving Australian and traditional Mediterranean ingredients.

For your average razorback, you’ll need the following ingredients for the stuffing:

  • 2 kilos of Australian lamb mince
  • 50 grams of shelled cashew nuts or walnuts
  • A few crushed juniper berries
  • 50 grams of raisins
  • 4 sliced onions
  • 1 can of peeled tomatoes
  • 2 generous flutes of Australian brut champagne
  • 3 cups of Australian long grain rice
  • 3 spoonfuls of freshly chopped parsley
  • A spoonful of nutmeg
  • 5 cloves
  • Salt
  • A few crushed black peppercorns
  • Some hot chillies
  • A cup of extra virgin olive oil

You begin by bringing the rice to a boil, then rinse, drain and place aside while you brown the sliced onions with the mince in a casserole, gradually adding the tomatoes with the other ingredients and keeping the two champagne flutes for the bubbly end. Mix in the part-boiled rice and use the mixture to fill the spaces left after your fattened fowls are securely fitted in the chest cavity before stitching it. Make sure you don’t pack too much of the stuffing mixture to avoid bursting and brush with virgin olive oil as your spit rotates, thus, recycling the generated juices from your razorback’s chest cavity for best results.