Three delicious Christmas roasts

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Image: supplied.
Image: supplied.

What is Christmas without pork? These three recipes are so good that your taste buds will start tingling just by reading them!

It doesn’t always have to be gammon for Christmas. A roast leg of pork is very affordable and just as tasty, as is pork belly, pork neck, bacon, crackling ... Pork is one of the most versatile and affordable meats on the market, and it’s so easy to dress up for special occasions. Just add some festive candied or dried fruit, a dash of rum or the right combination of herbs and you’ll be stunned by the result.

Roast pork neck with rum and pears

Ask the butcher to debone the pork neck and roll it up for you. The cut is deliciously tender and should be easy to cut into slices.


2,5 kg deboned pork neck in a roll

2 tbsp (30 ml) grainy mustard

25 streaky bacon strips

4 onions, cut in slices

4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1 handful fresh sage, chopped

4 cups (1L) chicken broth

2 x 330 ml bottles apple cider

100 ml dark rum

2 tbsp (30 ml) fennel seeds

salt and freshly ground pepper

6 pears, halved and deseeded


1. Preheat oven to 160°C. Remove the netting (if it has netting) and unroll the pork neck. Spread the mustard on the meaty side of the pork and arrange the bacon strips on top of the mustard. Roll up the pork neck (keeping the mustard and bacon inside the roll) and tie with string.

2. Add the onions, garlic, sage, broth, apple cider and rum to an oven tray and place the pork roll on top. Sprinkle with the fennel seeds and season with salt and pepper. Cover and roast in the oven for two hours. Open the tray, add the pears and roast for another 30 minutes or until the meat is cooked.

3. Keep an eye on the liquid in the tray – if it gets too little, add some broth or apple cider. Increase the temperature, up to 180 °C, and roast for 15 minutes until the fat turns golden brown. Remove from the oven and rest for 10 minutes. Place on a serving platter and serve with pears and the sauce in the tray.

Christmas leg of pork with bacon and sage

SA Pork

Serves 8

You’re going to want to make extra because this festive stuffed pork is amazing as a sandwich filling the next day.


6 herbed pork sausages

6 sage leaves, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

150 ml fruitcake mixture (sultanas, grapes and citrus peel)

3 green apples, grated with the peel on

100 g pistachio nuts, coarsely chopped

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1.5 kg pork leg (ask the butchery staff to debone the leg of pork and to remove the skin; take the skin home with you, and see the tip at the bottom for an extra delicious delicacy to spoil your guests)

30 rashers smoked streaky bacon

350 ml naartjie or orange juice

¼ cup (60 ml) honey

4 whole cloves

1 cup (250 ml) sweet mustard sauce, to serve


1. Remove the sausage meat from its casings and mix with the sage, garlic, fruitcake mixture, apple and nuts. Season well with salt and pepper.

2. Place the deboned pork leg on a clean work surface. Make shallow horizontal cuts in the meat but do not cut all the way through. Unfold the meat like a butterfly spreading its wings. (That’s how you butterfly meat.) Season with salt and pepper.

3. Spoon the sausage mixture onto the meat and spread evenly. Roll the meat into a firm sausage shape and wrap with the bacon. Cover in clingfilm and then in foil.

4. Bring a pot of water to a boil and place the pork in the water. Cooking time will depend on the size of your pork leg. Boil for 30 minutes for every 500 g minus 30 minutes for roasting time (Our cut was boiled for two hours and roasted for 30 minutes.)

5. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Mix the citrus juice, honey and cloves. Take the pork out of the pot, remove the foil and clingfilm and place the meat in ovenproof dish. Spoon the citrus mixture over. Roast in the oven until golden brown, about 30 minutes, basting regularly with pan juices.

6. Serve hot with the pan juices and vegetables of your choice. Mustard is always a winning accompaniment to pork.


TIP: That skin the butcher removed for you? Place it on a baking tray and sprinkle generously with coarse salt – don’t hold back! Roast for 1-2 hours at 160°C until the crackling has crisped. Allow to cool and break into pieces. Serve with the pork. Take your time with the grilling process: the fat must render slowly for the skin to crisp up nicely.

Christmas porchetta

Image: supplied

Serves 9-10

Pronounced ‘porketta’, this classic Italian roast is both deliciously juicy and crispy – your family will be calling dibs over the last tasty morsels. Thankfully, this recipe makes enough to feed a crowd and is so versatile it goes with any number of sides and salads. Buon appetito!

TIP: Tell your butcher you’re making a porchetta, and they’ll cut to your specifications – the bellies need to be large enough to roll.


3 pork bellies (about 1.5kg each), deboned, skin on

table salt


1 tsp (5 ml) fennel seeds

1 tsp (5 ml) sea salt

1 tsp (5 ml) chilli flakes

1 tsp (5 ml) black pepper

3 cloves garlic

3 tbsp (45 ml) rosemary leaves, chopped


1 tbsp (15 ml) rosemary leaves, chopped

30 g Italian parsley

1 small clove garlic (optional)

pinch chilli flakes

6 tbsp (90 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

2 tbsp (30 ml) red-wine vinegar

pinch sea salt

pinch freshly ground black pepper


1. Pat the pork with paper towels and set on a clean surface, skin-side down. Slide strings of kitchen twine underneath the bellies, long enough to tie around the porchettas at about 3 cm intervals.

2. Prepare the rub by either blitzing the ingredients in a food processor or by pounding in a pestle and mortar. You should be able to just ‘spread’ it. Then spread the rub on the top of the meat. Roll the belly so that the fattiest part of the skin is on top. Tie up with twine.

3. Spread the table salt all over the top and sides of the porchettas (this will help to draw the moisture out for that crispy, crackly fat). Set aside in the fridge for one hour.

4. Make the parsley and rosemary drizzle by blitzing the ingredients together to get a pesto-like texture. Set aside in the fridge to allow the flavours to develop.

5. Preheat the oven to 150°C. Wipe the salt off the porchettas and pat down again with paper towels. Place the porchettas in a large baking tray (or trays) and roast for 3-4 hours (cooking times will vary depending on the size of your pork – roughly an hour per kilogram of meat). The skin should already be crispy but crank up the heat to 220°C for about 15-20 minutes to get that extra-crisp skin!

6. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing. Serve with the drizzle and your choice of salads and sides.

Looking for something new this Christmas?

For recipe ideas, visit, or you can also follow SA Pork on Facebook at @SAPork, on Twitter as @porksouthafrica, on Instagram at @sa_pork and see recipe ideas on Pinterest at @southafricanpork

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