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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- frying pans or skillet
- kitchen towels
- kitchen oven
- kitchen tongs
- deep roasting trays
- oven thermometer
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Place the pork on a rack and liberally salt the skin. Refrigerate uncovered overnight or for at least eight hours to dry the skin.
- 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.
- 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.