“Porchetta” or “Little Pig”, is one of my favorite pork roasts. Historically, a Roman dish, it hails from Central Italy, usually made for celebrations and family gatherings. Porchetta is also commonly found throughout Italy, being sold from roadside Food Trucks, served sliced into Panini or Ciabatta bread. Over the years Porchetta and how it is prepared varies from region to region. Porchetta has found it’s way to the US by Italian immigrants and is sometimes referred to as Italian pulled pork. Traditionally, Porchetta is made with a whole baby pig, that is stuffed with the loin meat, seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic and wild fennel. It’s then roasted for up to seven hours at a steady but low heat. I don’t have access to a whole baby pig nor that many people to invite over. I make a little more simplified version of Porchetta that is oh so tasty. I start with a 7 to 8 lb. piece of Pork belly, rib meat and skin still attached and a 5 lb. Pork Loin. Season with fennel pollen, thyme, sage, rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper, basting every hour until done. I also like using a rotisserie, so that it can slowly, self baste itself. To accompany the Porchetta, add potatoes to the pan, for the last hour, to cook in the drippings. This dish goes really well with Greens, cooked with pancetta and garlic. It can be eaten with the greens and potatoes or sliced thinly in Ciabatta rolls. Either way you can’t go wrong.
Begin with fresh Rosemary, Thyme and Sage. You will need about three to four sprigs each. Remove the leaves from the stems as much as possible.
Add ten or more whole cloves of garlic, skin removed, and copious salt and pepper both black and white.
Add all the herbs and garlic into a food processor then pour in two to three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil into the processor.
Process the herbs and garlic into a thick paste.
I use about a quarter cup of fennel pollen. Fennel pollen was not easy to find, but boy was it worth the search.
8 lb. pork belly, rib meat and skin attached.
5 lb. pork loin roast.
Butterfly the pork loin roast.
Generously salt and pepper the pork belly and rub on the Fennel Pollen.
Rub the herb paste on the pork belly and inside the pork loin roast.
Place the pork loin roast inside of the pork belly. When buying the meat, make sure to buy two pieces that will match up well before hand.
Make a roll with the pork belly as tight as you can.
Tie the pork belly with butchers twine every inch and a half, tying tightly.
You can roast this in the oven in a heavy roasting pan, or as I do, on a Rotisserie. Place it on the spit, fasten snugly.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees plus for the first 20- to 30 minutes then drop the temperature down to 225 degrees for the remaining time.
Every hour pour dry white wine across the top of the roast. Oh boy this smells good now!
Wash and slice a large bag of fingerling potatoes and season them with salt and pepper. You can really use any type of potatoes you wish to use.
About four hours later, the potatoes go into a roasting pan below the Porchetta, for the last hour of the cooking. At this point I check the Porchetta’s internal temperature, looking for 140 degrees.
The Potatoes are perfectly cooked.
And so is the Porchetta. The skin is crispy.
But inside is the most tender, juicy, and fragrant roast. Perfection is reached.
The little ring of crackling surrounds each slice, the herbs intertwine throughout the roast. Sandwich or plate, take your pick. I can’t wait.
8 to 10 lb. Pork Belly, skin and rib meat still attached
5 to 6 lb. Pork loin
3 to 4 sprigs of: Rosemary, Thyme, Sage (Use the leaves only)
10 to 12 Whole Garlic cloves
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Fresh black pepper
Fennel Pollen (From the flowers) if you can’t locate this you can use ground fennel seed. It’s similar but not the same. The Pollen is a much more fragrant, delicate flavor.
1 bottle of dry white wine (I use Friulian white or Pinot Grigio wine)
2 lbs of Fingerling potatoes
Rotisserie Grill or Large Roasting Pan with rack
Large shallow baking pan
Place the rosemary, thyme, sage leaves and garlic cloves in a processor, add 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and process to a thick paste.
Generously salt and pepper the meat side of the pork belly and rub with fennel pollen. Rub half of the herb paste onto the Pork belly, inside only.
Make a cut in the pork loin roast, butterflying it open add salt and pepper, both sides, add the fennel pollen and herb paste on the inside of this, then fold back.
Place the pork loin into the center of the Pork belly and wrap it with the Pork belly. Tie the Pork belly around the Pork loin roast, about every inch to inch and a half with butchers twine, tying tightly.
(If cooking in an oven without the rotisserie, make long slices into the outer skin of the Pork belly to help render some of the fat out, this is not as necessary on the rotisserie because it is constantly turning and basting itself.)
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and place the roast in for about thirty minutes, then reduce the heat down to 250-300 degrees.
Baste with white wine every hour for 4 to 5 hours.
Add the potatoes to the pan the last hour. When the Porchetta has reached an internal temperature of 140 degrees it is done. Take the Porchetta off the heat and cover with foil for 30 minutes before cutting.
Enjoy with the Potatoes and a veggie or on Ciabatta rolls.