Preparing a Porchetta

Overhead view of sliced roast pork roulade - Porchetta, delicious pork roast of Italian culinary holiday tradition on a slate tray with rosemary and lime, close-up.
Copyright: myviewpoint

Porchetta is an Italian dish that relies on the best quality pork belly that money can buy. It is traditionally a dish eaten all year round but especially so in Italy. It originates from all over Italy but especially Lazio. Fennel is often used with this dish because it offers a slightly earthy quality to the flavour of the pork.

The pork loin or belly needs to have firm fat and a dry skin because it is more straightforward when scoring the flesh and will produce exceptional crackling. 

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Equipment:

Ingredients:

Serves 6 -8

  • 3-4kg rolled and boned (boneless) pork loin or pork belly
  • 1 tsp of fennel seeds, ground with a pestle and mortar
  • Sea salt (4 tbsp)
  • Cracked black pepper or black peppercorns crushed and ground with a pestle and mortar
  • 8 slices of pancetta
  • 12 sage leaves
  • Grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp of chilli flakes or one deseeded and ground up chilli
  • 2 tbs of olive oil
  • 2 cups of dry white wine

Preparation:

  1.  Toast the fennel seeds and peppercorns in a dry frying pan or skillet for a couple minutes. These can be allowed to become fragrant, then crush in a mortar and pestle to a rough powder and leave aside. Some chefs will not bother with roasting because they prefer the more pungent notes coming out of both spices when ground up.
  2. Lay the pork belly on a kitchen surface with its fat side down. Roll lengthwise and mark the section that gets rolled under with a sharp knife, then trim all the fat from that section  flip it back over and score the top into a criss-cross pattern making sure not to cut through the meaty part but just the fat.
  3. Rub the paste in the meat side of the pork and, with kitchen string, tie the pork at two-centimetre intervals so that it forms a roll with the skin on the outside.
  4. Place the pork on a rack and liberally salt the skin. Refrigerate uncovered overnight or for at least eight hours to dry the skin.
  5. Place in the hot oven when it comes to temperature and roast for 1 hour, then lower the temperature to 350°F (170°C) and continue to cook for about another 2 hours. When the pork is done, a thermometer pushed into its centre should read 77ºC at least. If the skin looks in danger of burning, cover it with foil – but only do this once it has crackled.
  6. Remove the porchetta to a board to rest for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, place the roasting tray over a medium heat on the hob to keep heated until serving. It’s also an opportunity for making gravy at this point. 
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