When a bonafide Grillaholic thinks pork, a few different things probably come to mind -- ribs, bacon, or maybe ham. Whatever you think of when you think about pork, it’s probably not porchetta. This traditional Italian style of pork roast is a sight to behold, if you aren’t already familiar. Italians love their porchetta so much, in fact, that there are entire street festivals dedicated to the dish alone. This writer asks only: where do we sign up?
By now, you’re probably wondering what porchetta is.
To make porchetta, a pork loin is left with the belly attached. The surface of the entire cut is seasoned with herbs and spices very generously. From there, the entire piece is rolled tightly, trussed, and then roasted. Because the skin is left on the original cut of meat, the result is an absurdly flavorful and juicy roast, covered in a layer of incredibly crispy skin.
The cooked roast is typically sliced quite thickly and served on warm focaccia. Because of its spiral shape, each slice has a piece of each texture: the meaty loin, the fatty belly, and the crispy skin. It’s something like a nuclear bomb of pork, and it’s incredible.
Now, to the good part...the recipe! Fair warning, though -- although delicious, a perfect porchetta is no small task, and it isn’t exactly beginner-friendly. That being said, let’s get at it.
You will need:
- 1 piece of pork belly, with pork loin and skin still attached
- 3 tablespoons fennel seeds
- 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh sage
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- Kosher salt
- 1/2 orange, seeded, thinly sliced
- Butcher’s twine
The first step is to lay out your pork loin until it’s flat on your work surface. From here, you’ll need to butterfly the loin. To do this, cut a slit underneath the pork loin and “unfold” it away from the rest of the meat. This is going to give you more surface area to season. Generously sprinkle the herbs and spices onto the meat, along with a healthy drizzle of olive oil. You can also juice your orange (or lime!) directly onto the meat.
After that’s done, roll it up!
Be sure to tightly coil the belly around the loin, leaving the skin side facing out. Use your butcher’s twine to wrap the ‘log’ tight -- the tighter the better. But, don’t obsess -- once it starts to cook, and the fat starts to render, the meat will tend to hold itself together. Once it’s all wrapped and tied, season the skin very, very generously with salt. This is going to dry out the skin, and eventually help it crisp up (more on that later).
From here, you can cook the meat in a variety of ways. Our ideal suggestion? On a spit attachment for a grill, at 300 degrees fahrenheit for about three hours. Be sure to keep some kind of drip pan underneath the porchetta, though -- there’s going to be plenty of fat rendering away. After three hours, the porchetta should be thoroughly cooked. But, it’s going to take a little more time to crisp up that outer skin. So crank your oven up to about 450 degrees, and let it rip for another hour or so. When the skin has started to blister and crisp, you’re all set!
From there, let the porchetta rest for about 30 minutes, and then dig in!