The Roast of the Count

The Roast of the Count is made from a female pig weighing about 80 kg which is cooked whole.

This dish, so pleasant and refined, has a rather laborious and delicate preparation, and consists of different phases.
You might think it is a heavy dish but it is not. In fact, the fat and lard melt during the cooking process (7 hours).
The pork is opened from the underside and boned as only the skilled hand of an expert can do, it is flavored with salt, pepper and various aromas in which garlic, rosemary and wild “fennel” predominate, a plant of the family of the anise, it is expertly stuffed and reassembled to make it regain the appearance of a pig. The carcass with its seasoning is sewn up, tied with string and supported with a wooden pole on two supports that will allow it to be raised from the bottom of the dripping pan in which the “lard” will be collected as it melts during the cooking process.

Cooking takes place at about 220 ° C, it can last up to 7 hours and at intervals of about an hour the roast will be taken out of the oven to sprinkle it with the melted lard formed in the drip pan, this will help to make the crust (rind) crisp. and to prevent the meat from drying out too much. As cooking progresses, the dish will take on a golden color that will automatically pop up when you see it. You will now understand the scent that is released into the air when the oven is opened. Once cooked, it needs to cool off for a few moments, but still it’s better served hot to get the full aroma, ready to be enjoyed with homemade bread like the one we prepare in our Trullo Oven. A few slices of warm hot cut with a piece of “CRUST” a good local wine from Puglia, necessarily red, good company and a nice singing, will complete the evening in joy and friendship, reviving the glories of those events that originally took place on our farmyards and in local communities.

The Count’s Roast is a fascinating ancient story, whose preparation techniques have been written in Latin and even mentioned in some writings in 400 BC. Among the main admirers of the succulent dish, there is Count Giangirolamo di Acquaviva, who, famous for his refined palate, had received the roast recipe from a famous Greek hunter, Artemis Rhoi, who had become a friend of the count due to trade of the Murgesi horses that were bred at Masseria Cavallerizza. Around October 1647, the Count invited Rhoi to hunt in his reserve, in the woods of Alberobello, still called Selva.
The count, also known as Guelfo Di Puglia, loved to prepare his sumptuous banquets with pork. One day, after the banquet, the hunter, revealed that he had an ancient recipe of how to roast pork, found in ancient books, and that it was something extraordinary that contained the secret on how to properly use herbs.
The Count managed to get the recipe which was transcribed in Latin.
The Count, subsequently, began to prepare the roast with Rhoi’s recipe, which immediately became very successful.
The preparation was quite long and special herbs were needed that only the Count himself was able to find as he personally used them during the cooking process without disclosing the name of the herbs to anyone.
In those days the Count’s guests were the Venetians who came to Cavallerizza to buy Murgese Horses and stopped to feast at the Palazzo del Conte, who used to prepare the famous “Roast of the Count” for them.
After years of repeating these meetings, the Count gave in and had him transcribe, to one of these noble Venetians, the original recipe of the pig.
At that point the Venetians, who used to stop in Ariccia at the Castelli Romani during their travels, began to bake the pork according to the recipe transcribed by the Count of Alberobello.
The recipe, over the years, was spread throughout the Castelli Romani area and only in 1950 the Mayor Cioli Ovidio set up the first festival of this very special roast which was given the name of “Porchetta di Ariccia”.
After 104 years, during the restoration of the Palazzo del Conte in Alberobello we discovered the whole story.