• Porchetta (Smith Street Books)Source: Smith Street Books

Porchetta is rolled, spiced pork with crackling that, put simply, just makes you happy.

Serves
12

Preparation

20min

Cooking

4hr

Skill level

Easy
By
Average: 3.1 (77 votes)
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When my mum came to Rome for the first time after I moved here, she couldn’t believe her eyes when she spotted me eating porchetta. She’d been making it all my life, particularly for special occasions, and I’d always pass it up. I now lament all the pork I missed, because porchetta is truly sublime.

It is made throughout central Italy and varies slightly depending on the region. For instance, Lazio and Abruzzo share a border, but one includes garlic while the other doesn’t.

Ingredients

Porchetta

  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 4 rosemary sprigs, leaves picked
  • 10 sage leaves
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 3.5 kg (7 lb 12 oz) pork belly
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) pork fillet

For cooking

  • 250 ml (8½  fl oz/1 cup) dry white wine
  • 250 ml (8½  fl oz/1 cup) water
  • 4 rosemary sprigs
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.

Instructions

Resting time: 6 hours - overnight

Create a seasoning for the porchetta by blitzing together the salt, rosemary, sage and fennel seeds.

Lay the pork belly on a clean work surface, skin side down, and sprinkle with a generous amount of the seasoning mix. (If you don’t use it all, you can keep it to season meat or fish.)

Without cutting all the way through, slice the pork fillet down the centre lengthways, so that you can open it out like butterfly wings; you can ask your butcher to do this, if you prefer. Place the pork fillet on top of the pork belly, then roll it up, with the pork fillet inside, as tightly as possible. Tie tightly at regular intervals with kitchen string. Pierce the skin with a knife over the entire surface.

Wrap the entire porchetta in foil and allow to rest in the fridge overnight, or for at least 6 hours.

Preheat the oven to 220°C (430°F). Add the wine, water, rosemary sprigs and fennel seeds to a roasting tray (or a baking dish) with a roasting rack on top.

Place the porchetta, still covered in foil, on the rack part of the tray, so that as the liquid evaporates during cooking it will help to keep the porchetta moist.

Bake for 1 hour, then take the porchetta out of the oven and remove the foil. Place the meat back in the oven.

Reduce the oven temperature to 200°C (400°F) and bake for a further 3 hours (calculate 1 hour of cooking time for every 1 kg/ 2 lb 3 oz of meat). If the liquid dries out, top up with more water or wine, and turn the pork every 30 minutes to ensure the skin becomes crispy and ‘crackles’.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest before carving.

 

Recipe and images from I Heart Rome by Maria Pasquale (Smith Street Books, hb, $49.99). Enter to win your own copy here. Read Maria's article on her love affair with Rome here.