Bill Milne
Chef Steve Chiappetti grilling up honey-glazed duck.
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Meat Me In Chicago: The Dishes That Rocked Navy Pier

Abbe Lewis - July/August 2013

At the 15th annual Share Our Strength/Food Arts Championship BBQ & Cookout, National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show–goers and guests sated their hunger for hearty ’cue as local chefs—charcoal in hand—competed for Waring grand prizes and bragging rights at Chicago’s Navy Pier. Contributions from event sponsors raised over $100,000 to benefit Share Our Strength’s efforts to fight childhood hunger. John Coletta took home the prize this year with the recipe below.

Click the image above to see what the chefs cooked.

View images from the BBQ and don't miss the video here.

And the winner is...

John Coletta's Grilled Duroc Pancetta Cotto with Fresh Fig/Balsamic Lacquer and Minted Spring Pea Salad

"This is an expression of thinking locally and eating globally," says Coletta, exec chef at Quartino, Chicago. "The best local seasonal ingredients are paired with age-old traditional techniques, Italian artisanal balsamic and a passion for flavor."

(This dish requires advance preparation.)

Duroc pancetta cotto:

  • 2 cups kosher or sea salt, medium grind, plus more for rubbing on pork
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. nutmeg, ground
  • 1/5 cup whole cloves, crushed
  • 1/5 cup whole juniper berries, crushed
  • 1/5 cup whole black peppercorns, crushed
  • 1/5 cup whole allspice, crushed
  • 1/5 cup rosemary leaves
  • 5 bay leaves, fresh
  • 1/2 head garlic, cloves removed
  • 1 Duroc pork belly, 11" by 17"
  1. Combine salt, sugar, nutmeg, cloves, juniper berries, black pepper, allspice, rosemary, bay leaves, and garlic cloves in stainless-steel bowl; mix well to ensure that all of the ingredients are evenly distributed.

  2. Place pork belly in plastic or stainless-steel container; season with salt all over; using plastic gloves, massage and rub the seasoned salt and spices into pork belly; cover pork belly with plastic wrap; place 10 pound weight over the pork belly; refrigerate 7 days.

  3. Preheat oven to 250°F

  4. Remove cured pork belly from refrigerator; wash off spices with water.

  5. Place pork belly onto baking sheet; bake 2 hours, or until cooked through (the internal temperature should be 130°F) remove from oven; cool at room temperature for 2 hours; transfer to stainless-steel tray; cover with plastic wrap; place 10 lb. weight onto pork belly; refrigerate overnight.

  6. Remove the pressed, chilled, cooked pork belly from the refrigerator. Portion the pork belly into 1/2" by 3" pieces; reserve in refrigerator.

Fig/balsamic lacquer:

  • 2 cups balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup black Mission figs, pureed
  • 1 Tbsp. garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme, leaves only
  • 1 sprig flat-leaf parsley, stem only
  • 1 tsp. whole black peppercorns

Add all ingredients in large pot over medium flame; simmer until light syrup begins to form and lightly coats the back of a spoon, reducing liquid to about half; strain balsamic syrup through fine mesh strainer; pour into plastic squeeze bottle; cool in ice bath; refrigerate.

Minted spring pea salad:

  • 1 cup pea shoots, cleaned
  • 1 tsp. mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. fior di latte, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. hazelnuts, toasted and crushed
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • kosher or sea salt
  • ground black pepper

Add all ingredients in medium stainless-steel bowl; gently toss; season to taste.


1 black Mission fig per portion

  1. Heat a grill.

  2. Place portioned pancetta cotto and whole black Mission figs onto grill; cook until grill marks appear on both items.

  3. To serve: arrange grilled pancetta cotto and fig onto a serving platter; arrange minted spring pea salad around, drizzle with fig balsamic lacquer.