No smell is more synonymous with summer than smoke coming from the barbecue. Mouthwatering meat blackened by lapping flames springs to mind at the first whiff of smoke on a sunny day. Never a more primordial desire existed since the invention of fire. One of the most ingenious uses I have seen of day-old bread in Italy (of which there are innumerable) is to skewer chunks of bread between meat and grill them. Often have I rued the waste of that precious juice emerging from the grilling meat but never before had I thought to catch it with bread. Grilled bread on its own is delicious but soaked with the juice from roasting meat, it is heavenly.
Spiedini di maiale (pork and fennel skewers) – Toscana
This dish is traditionally served without a sauce, but I often like to add one, even a marinade brought to a boil and then poured over, to keep everything moist. For illustrated step-by-step instructions, click here.
600 grams pork tenderloin, cut into 1 cm (1/2 inch) slices
400 grams sausage, cut in 2-3 cm (1 inch) pieces
Day old, rustic-style bread, cut into 2 cm (1 inch) cubes
1 fennel bulb, rinsed and cut to 6mm thick
Bay leaves, rinsed
1 sprig rosemary
3 sage leaves
1/4 garlic clove
1 lemon, juiced
125 mls extra-virgin olive oil
Black pepper, finely ground
Soak the wooden skewers in water to prevent them from burning. Season the pork with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
Blitz together the rosemary, sage, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil in a food processor or blender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set the sauce aside.
Boil the fennel for 3 minutes. Drain and cool in a bowl of ice water until cold. Drain again.
Skewer together the fennel, pork loin, bay leaf, bread and sausage. I thread them in this order so that the meat is perfumed with the flavours of the fennel and bay leaf and the bread can catch the juices from the pork and the sausage. Repeat skewering with the ingredients until finished.
Grill the brochettes, turning every few minutes until each side is golden. Partially pull apart a brochette to ensure the meat is cooked through or use a meat thermometer. Remove from the grill, pour over the sauce and let rest for 10 minutes.