Grilled Duroc Pancetta Cotto with Fresh Fig/Balsamic Lacquer and Minted Spring Pea Salad

John Coletta, Quartino, Chicago / July 2013

John Coletta took home the top prize this year at the 15th annual Share Our Strength/Food Arts Championship BBQ & Cookout during the National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show. "This is an expression of thinking locally and eating globally," Coletta says. "The best local seasonal ingredients are paired with age-old traditional techniques, Italian artisanal balsamic and a passion for flavor."

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.

Assembly:

  • 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.