Porchetta

Ingredients

  • 1 5–6-pound piece fresh pork belly, skin on
  • 1 (trimmed) 2-3-pound boneless, center-cut pork loin
  • 3 tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh sage
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 orange, seeded, thinly sliced

Recipe Preparation

  • Put belly skin side down; arrange loin in center. Roll belly around loin so the short ends of the belly meet. If any of the belly or loin overhangs, trim meat. Unroll; set loin aside.

  • Toast fennel seeds and red pepper flakes in a small skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Tip spices into a bowl; let cool. Finely grind spices in a spice mill and transfer to a small bowl, along with the sage, rosemary, and garlic; set fennel mixture aside.

  • Assemble porchetta according to steps 1-5 below.

  • Refrigerate roast, uncovered, for 1-2 days to allow skin to air-dry; pat occasionally with paper towels.

  • Let porchetta sit at room temperature for 2 hours. Preheat oven to 500°. Season porchetta with salt. Roast on rack in baking sheet, turning once, for 40 minutes. Reduce heat to 300° and continue roasting, rotating the pan and turning porchetta occasionally, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into center of meat registers 145°, 1 1/2-2 hours more. If skin is not yet deep brown and crisp, increase heat to 500° and roast for 10 minutes more. Let rest for 30 minutes. Using a serrated knife, slice into 1/2" rounds.

HOW TO ASSEMBLE

  • 1. Set belly skin side down. Using a knife, score the belly flesh in a checkerboard pattern 1/3" deep so roast will cook evenly.

  • 2. Flip belly skin side up. Using a paring knife, poke dozens of 1/8"-deep holes through skin all over belly. Don't be gentle! Keep poking.

  • 3. Using the jagged edge of a meat mallet, pound skin all over for 3 minutes to tenderize, which will help make skin crispy when roasted.

  • 4. Turn belly and generously salt both it and loin; rub both with fennel mixture. Arrange loin down middle of belly. Top with orange slices.

  • 5. Roll belly around loin; tie crosswise with kitchen twine at 1/2" intervals. Trim twine. Transfer roast to a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet.

Recipe by The Bon Appétit Test Kitchen,Photos by Henry Leutwyler

Nutritional Content

15 servings, 1 serving contains: Calories (kcal) 856.9 % Calories from Fat 86.3 Fat (g) 82.2 Saturated Fat (g) 30.1 Cholesterol (mg) 135.2 Carbohydrates (g) 1.6 Dietary Fiber (g) 0.4 Total Sugars (g) 0.8 Net Carbs (g) 1.2 Protein (g) 25.2 Sodium (mg) 67.0Reviews Section

Porchetta

    1) Start by toasting your fennel seeds and peppercorns in a dry skillet for a couple minutes or until fragrant, then crush in a mortar and pestle until just about pulverized, set aside.

2) Lay the pork belly on your surface (fat side down) roll lengthwise to mark the section that gets rolled under, then trim all the fat from that section (watch video for clear instructions on this) flip it back over and score the top into a crisscross pattern making sure not to cut through the meaty part, just the fat.

3) Liberally season the fat side with lots of salt and pepper, then flip it over, score the meat side as well, then season with lots of salt, the peppercorn and fennel seed mixture. Grate the garlic over with a zester, followed by the citrus zest and scatter the herbs around, massage it all in so the flavors gets in all the places you scored.

4) Roll the porchetta lengthwise (making sure the part you trimmed ends up tucked in) secure with about 8 pieces or so of kitchen twine. Place the porchetta on a wire rack overtop of a sheet pan, place in the fridge (top rack) for a minimum of 12 hours or up to 48 hours, I keep mine in for about 20 hours.

5) Take the roast out and allow it to come to room temperature for an hour, then preheat your oven to 300 degrees, pop it in the oven and bake for 2.5 hours, then increase the temperature to 500 degrees (don't take the roast out, once it's at 500 then time it for 30 minutes) and roast for 30 more minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

6) Carefully remove from the oven, allow to sit for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.


For the herb paste and pork roast:

  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh sage leaves
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh rosemary leaves
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt (kosher or sea)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cracked black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 2 strips (each 1/2 by 2 inches) orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, or 3 more as needed
  • 1 pork loin (3 pounds)
  • 4 slices pancetta, unrolled into long strips

For serving (optional):


How to Make Roast Porchetta Recipe with Crispy Skin

You don’t have to be Italian to love the taste of tender, juicy porchetta. It’s um-um-good and a dish that seldom has leftovers very long, since it’s just as good cold as it is freshly cooked.

You make porchetta from pork belly and if you’ve cooked it properly, it will have delectably crisp skin but be so tender it almost melts in your mouth.

Crispy in the outside tender in the inside

I hadn’t cooked or even tasted it before a friend emailed me a recipe. Not being much of a pork roast fan, I was reluctant to make it. Instead, I put it in my recipe file in my email and forgot it.

It wasn’t until that same friend invited me to dinner and served porchetta, did I realize that the recipe was almost worth its weight in gold. OMG! It was so good, my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

There’s nothing difficult about making porchetta, but it is time-consuming, curing time, no preparation time. First, you must start with a whole pork belly that has the skin still on it, then rub salt into the meat and rub the skin with baking soda.

Put the meat in the fridge to allow the salt to work it’s magic overnight. The rest of the process is relatively easy. You take the meat out, score it with a razor making lines that create small squares on the back, and expose the fat.

Lay the fat, scored side down, and add the layer of seasoning/stuffing on the top of the meat. The stuffing consists of garlic, fennel seed, rosemary, and lemon zest. You roll the meat as you might a bedroll and tie it neatly with string.

You may need to cut it to fit into the oven. Roast the roll or rolls at 400 degrees and you’ll end up with the perfect porchetta that really only took fifteen minutes of preparation and a little forethought.

It’s not really quick, but it doesn’t take much effort and that’s a huge selling factor for me. Once you taste it, you probably would make it even if it took all day. I know I would. Yummers, it’s so good!


1. With a skewer or small knife, prick dozens of small holes all over the surface of the pork belly. On the meat side of the pork, score long, deep lines along the length of the meat.

2. Toast the fennel seeds until fragrant, then pound with a mortar and pestle with the peppercorns, garlic, salt, sage and chilli to produce a rough paste. Mix through the oil.

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. Heat your oven to 220°C. Brush the salt from the skin of the pork and roast for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 150°C and cook for 2 hours.

6. Increase the heat to as high as possible and cook for 10 minutes to crisp the skin. Rest for 10 minutes, remove the string and slice to serve.


Porchetta Festivals (Sagras) In Italy

When planning your next trip to Italy, go, ahem, whole hog, and visit one of these uproarious aromatic festivals that celebrate porchetta.

Sagra della Porchetta in Ariccia in Lazio, just west of Rome

Sagra della Porchetta Italica in Campli in Abruzzo

Porchettiamo in San Terenziano in Umbria

Sagra della Porchetta in Costano in Umbria

Porchetta in Rome. If you can’t make a festival, you can get a taste of a first rate porchetta at the restaurant Trattoria Aristocampo near the fountain in the Campo di Fiori, a brilliant open air market in the heart of Rome. The market is open Monday through Saturday mornings, but the restaurant is open much longer, and you can take your sandwich with you onto the streets. Here is a porchetta stitched like a giant football at the Aristocampo. They buy theirs from a supplier in Ariccia.

Porchetta in Hawaii. While on vacation in Hawaii, I stumbled into a street fair where a Filipino man was grilling porchetta over charcoal. Then he put the meat in a vat of boiling oil to really crisp the skin. Yum. Here is the result, and you can see the fryer in the background.

Porchetta in Minnesota. Italian immigrants brought the recipe for porchetta with them to the US and Canada, and there are many variations floating around. Readers from Minnesota tell me that porketta (that’s how they spell it there) is common in groceries in the northeastern corner of the state (called the Iron Range for its iron mines), where it is more like a stuffed pork loin, sans skin.


How to Make Porketta Spice

This easy porketta seasoning recipe has all the flavors of Italian seasoning just kicked up a notch. Porketta seasoning also has fennel seed, onion, and garlic. It takes only 5 minutes to assemble this homemade seasoning blend. So easy and so simple. Nothing fancy, but phenomenal flavors to anything you put this porketta seasoning on!

Porketta spices are my favorite to top a pork tenderloin or roast and pop into the crockpot. They cook down tender, juicy, and loaded with herby goodness. This one will be your new go to for homemade spice blends!


Perfect porchetta roast

A perfect porchetta roast should have:

  • Tender, juicy meat
  • Plenty of seasoning, much of it from fennel
  • Crispy crackling that is not hard to bite into/through

A roast that meets any of those criteria will be good, but a truly excellent roast will meet all of them.

Porchetta problems

When we look at the meats involved in porchetta, we might start to see a problem. Porchetta is made of pork loin and a belly, and those two meats could hardly be more different. Loin is lean and tender with little to no connective tissue. Belly is fatty and full of collagen. (Pork skin is also collagen-rich and tough.) In order to dissolve the collagen and render the fat in the belly, we’ll need to cook it to at least 170°F (77°C). But a pork loin is done at 145°F (63°C), and well past done by the time it reaches 170°F (77°C). Compound that problem with the desire for crispy pork skin, and we find an irreconcilable mess.

“But!” people will say, “the fat from the belly will protect the loin from drying out!” Hogwash. It’s time to put that old saw away and think about things from a thermal/scientific angle.

First, what we’re trying to preserve is moisture, which is water-based. If we’re concerned about our pork loin losing water, that means that water is flowing out of it, and if water is flowing out, how much chance is there that fat (oil) will be able to flow in? It can’t. In fact, the idea of fat or oil penetrating into meat at all is frankly laughable. Oil penetrating a water-based medium? Hardly. It may coat the outside, but it will not go in, and it will not stop water from leaking out up underneath it. So the fat of the belly cannot keep the loin from drying.

Beyond the basic oil/water problem, though, is the problem of cooking proteins. When the proteins in a pork loin are cooked as high as a pork belly needs to be, they constrict and squeeze water out from inside of them. No amount of fat-wrapping will stop those proteins from squeezing water out.

And so we see that porchetta presents us with some serious thermal challenges. J. Kenji Lópz-Alt summarizes it well:

As the pork is…roasted, the fatty belly portion rich in juices and connective tissues ostensibly helps keep the relatively dry loin moist.

But we all know that this isn’t really how cooking works. All the fat in the world surrounding a lean, tightly textured muscle like a pork loin will not help keep it moist if you cook it past 150°F or so.

On the other hand, belly, with its extensive network of connective tissue and abundant fat content, needs to be cooked to at least 160°F for a couple of hours in order for that tissue to slowly break down and for some of the fat to render.

SerioiusEats.com

Porchetta solutions

Kenji’s proposed solution is simple: leave the loin out. As solutions go, it’s a winner. Is it completely traditional? No. But that’s the only strike against it that I can find. Yes, an all-belly porchetta roast is technically smaller, but it’s still quite large, and the richness of the meat makes it go far. In exchange for leaving the loin out, you get a shorter cook time, juicier meat, an easier preparation, and a lower cost. Win-win-win.


The Meatwave

Ever since finding the gospel of rotisserie pork belly, I've had an itch to do it again. With Christmas coming up, it seemed like this crisped skinned and juicy chunk of pork would make one fine, rich centerpiece for the holiday table. So I took up the task of trying out another variation of slowly spinning belly over a live fire, this time around going the Italian route with a rotisserie porchetta that proved again that this is one of the greatest ways to cook pork belly.

Porchetta is traditionally the deboned belly of the pig, with the loin still attached, which is heavily seasoned, rolled, rested, and then roasted. While the loin would usually be a pretty dry cut thanks to its lack of fat, the idea behind porchetta is that the combo of a heavy dose of salt and rendering fat from the belly will keep that loin moist. The problem is that even with those safeguards, if you take the loin north of medium doneness, it'll still start drying out. To combat this, I started my pork loin off in a brine by itself to inject some extra moisture insurance into it.

While the loin brined, I turned my sights to the porchetta seasoning. Sticking with a traditional recipe, I comprised my rub of the common seasonings that include a hefty portion of black pepper, fennel, and sage along with rosemary, garlic, thyme, red pepper, and lemon zest. It's a wonderfully aromatic and potent mixture that has the power to deliver a lot of flavor to these large cuts of meats.

The next step was laying out the belly and cutting deep slits at about one inch intervals in a diamond pattern. The belly was then seasoned heavily with salt and spread with the rub liberally, making sure the herb and spice mixture found its way in the those crevasses to provide an even deeper seasoning.

I then laid the loin in the center of the belly and attempted the roll. Unfortunately the loin was a bit too big to be effectively enclosed in the belly, so I had to cut the thing in half to make it the proper size. I was thinking this may make the tenderloin the better fit for the job in terms of size and shape, but I wasn't going to start over, so the reduced loin had to do.

I was then able to rolls the belly shut, tying it off with butcher twine at one inch intervals. What I had before me a gigantic roast that was already a beauty, but I could only image how much better it would look after a few hours of slow cooking.

The whole porchetta was put on the spit&mdashthis thing was so big that it took up nearly the entire 22 1/2-inch space I had in the grill. It went over a medium fire that had two equal piles of coal on either side of the charcoal grate, with a drip pan in the middle to catch the rendering fat.

The beast slowly spun until the skin browned and crisped in its own fat, and the loin reached just north of 150 degrees&mdashmine was 155 in the loin when it was ready to be pulled. This process took just about three hours, which meant it required a refueling with hot coals about half way through when the first batch started to die out.

Once off the grill and rested, I made the first slice. The audible crack of the skin followed by sight of that juicy meat had my mouth salivating. You probably don't need me to tell you how delicious this was. How can you go wrong with pork wrapped in fatty pork with crunchy skin? The impressiveness of this monster roast makes it perfect for the holiday table, but it's so good that'll you'll want to eat it all year.