por'ketta - a savoury, fatty, and moist boneless pork roast of Italian culinary tradition.
Not only is porchetta a crowd pleaser, it's a mouth pleaser. You might even say that cooking it is a jowl teaser (we are so punny RN). It's a family style dish that's surprisingly easy to make; whether you've got a smoker, a grill, or an oven. Juicy pork, crackling skin, citrus, all the herbs, what else do you need?
Making a porchetta is a tradition in many families; it's am impressive roast style meal that can feed a large amount of people if needed, and it also looks super cool. A little bit of effort goes into the preparation, but allows you to sit back, relax, and watch your cooking tool of choice do the rest of the work. Here is our step-by-step guide for prepping and cooking a porchetta. How you want to serve it is up to you.
We make our porchetta by wrapping a whole pork belly around a boneless pork loin (yea. pork belly. thin of the cracklin'!) The most important thing is to treat your pork belly nicely, and you'll get a tender and crispy porchetta in return. We buy our meat from The Butcher's Son in Toronto (we like them a lot) but you can pick up loin and belly from your local butcher.
The first thing you need to do is place the belly portion fat side up on your counter or cutting board. you need to remove the top later of skin and nipples etc. Take a sharp knife and hold it with the blade facing away from you, and carefully slice the top layer off, piece by piece.
You want to trim your pork belly to the same length of your loin. That way you won't have any overhang of belly when you come to wrap the loin, and you can use the juicy leftovers to cook up some tasty pork belly treats. We marinated ours and then steamed them in a soup of soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, lemon, chillies and water.
Now that you've trimmed that beautiful belly piece, it's time to put those knife skills to work. The secret to making our porchetta extra delicious is to create folds in the tissue for our herbs and citrus to lay in. This will keep them from escaping during the cooking process.
Take your knife and slice diagonally into the meat (about two the three inches deep) horizontally on the belly, and then roll the meat up. Continue making these cuts along the entire length of the belly. The folds should look like little horizontal rolls about two inches apart.
Herbs are a very important part of this process; make sure you stock up on a variety of fresh ones for this. You can use whichever herbs you like (within reason, please don't add mint to porchetta). We used sage, thyme and rosemary. Get a really fine chop on your herbs; give them that Edward scissor hands frenzied chopping and release those incredible aromas. You want a good few handfuls of finely chopped herbs before you start the next step. You'll also want to get a good chop of quite few cloves of garlic at this point too.
This is the prettiest step and perhaps the most fun part of prepping our porchetta, which is a good thing because the steps following can be slightly frustrating. That begin said, let's all take a look at how beautiful that pork is below. After showering your pork folds with herbs and garlic, take a whole orange and lemon, zest them both generously (don't hold back!) over the meat, and finish with squeezing the citrus juice all over your prized pig.
Roll it up! It's legal now.
After you've done that, fold all those pretty little layers of pork belly back down so that the whole piece is flush, and your herbs, garlic and citrus are hiding in there nicely. Now roll it carefully and tightly around your pork loin (not too tight that all your juice squeezes out the sides).
Here comes the super fun part! Stringing that beautiful pork up can be tricky, so don't get frustrated if it takes you a few tries to get it right. The best way to do it (we think) is to tie butcher's knots so that you can adjust them if needed. We could explain it to you, but we will let our friends at Serious Eats do that for us, they already did such a great job here.
Cook your beast. There are a few ways to do it, slow oven roast, smoke, or BBQ. We started ours out in a roasting pan in a 315 degree convection oven for 4.5 hours. After that, we transferred the pork to our smoker for another 2 hours to give it a unique flavor and serious color.
The best park about cooking this roast is that there's not basting, flipping, stirring etc., you can just sit back, relax and wait for that baby to sizzle.
If you are BBQ'ing your pork, keep it around 300 for 4 to 5 hours.
** If your porchetta skin doesn't bubble and crackle, use this hack: Place meat on a drip tray in a baking sheet. Bring some vegetable or canola oil to a boil (or hot enough to peel off your skin, so don't touch). Gently ladle the hot oil over the pork skin and your skin should bubble right up.
Enjoy your Porchetta!
- The Oh My Lard Team