Preparation time: 1 hour (or cheat and pre order one all done from The Bucthery Ltd) best started the day before.
Cooking time: 8 hours
A traditional Italian Porchetta involves boning a whole pig, loading with aromats before rolling up, tying and slow roasting in a wood fire oven until the skin is crackly and the meat is melting. You can also find trucks at markets dispensing this divine porcine goodness, the best in rolls with a sweet and spicy red pepper jelly or mostarda. This recipe aims to replicate this grand affair in the comfort of your own home, and with standard domestic kitchen apparatus. Though if you have the capacity to roast a whole pig, we envy you, and expect an immediate invitation! It takes a somewhat more modest portion – a boned loin of pork with the belly still attached – that is still perfect for rolling and slow roasting. 8 hours may seem a lot; but really, once you’ve got the joint prepped it simply goes into a very low oven and is forgotten about, so you can get on with your day. Though be warned – the amazing smells that will permeate your house will be a constant reminder of the delights to come! Finally, this recipe should be enjoyed at least twice – hot from the oven with your favourite roast trimmings (obvs); but then it should be allowed to cool to room temperature so that it can be sliced thinly over warm crusty bread for incredible roast pork sandwiches.
2 tbsp Fennel seeds, toasted and ground
2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
1 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
1 tbsp of minced or finely chopped garlic
½ tbsp chilli flakes
Zest of 1/2 lemon, finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper, about 1 tbsp
1 tbsp sea salt
Butcher’s string, for tying
your favourite veg for roasts
Gravy - if making
2 tbspn Apple sauce
1/4 cup chicken stock
butter - to taste
dijon mustard - to taste
salt and pepper
2.5 - 3kg Boned loin and belly (as one piece) of native breed pork. On a budget ? try this recipe with hand of pork.
Ask for a quarter of the skin to be removed from the loin end of the joint, as this part of the meat will be rolled into the middle – you only really want the skin on the outside of the joint so that it crackles up perfectly. Keep the excess skin if you wish to make some cheeky pork scratchings! Also ask for the skin to be scored as this will help the crackling along – I think I diagonal pattern presents well and doesn't interfere with tying– or do it yourself (carefully) with a clean stanley knife.
1. Prepare the porchetta the evening before you plan to serve it. Place all the seasoning ingredients in a bowl and mix well to combine. Lay the pork out skin side down on a work surface. Evenly spread the herby mix over the meat, reserving about 1 tbsp. Take the loin end and roll it as tightly as you can towards the belly, trying to wrap the drier loin in belly so it is basted whilst cooking. This is difficult, try the other way if you don't succeed. Flip the joint so it is skin side up and start to tie the meat. Here’s a quick how to video. I suggest placing the first tie in the middle, then at each end, before subdivding between the middle and the ends. (if this worries you - again cheat and order one prepared) This will help to keep an even shape. Behold, your porchetta!
2. Place the joint skin side up on a wire rack in the sink and pour a full kettle of boiling water over the skin. This will help the scores to open up. Pat the excess moisture and allow to dry completely. Tip: a hair drier comes in handy to speed things up! Salt the skin liberally with fine sea salt taking the time to rub it into the scores. Finally take the remaining seasoning mix and coat the ends of the meat. Place the joint on a wire rack over a roasting tray and keep, uncovered in the fridge overnight until needed.
4. An hour before you plan to serve, take the porchetta from the oven and turn the temperature up to full whack. Remove the foil from the ends of the joint, and place on a separate baking dish. The roasting tray with the meat juices can be used to make a quick delicious gravy – place over a high heat, add a good dollop of apple sauce and Dijon mustard, a splash of chicken stock, and mix well to combine any sticky bits of flavour. Reduce to sauce consistency and finish with a knob of butter for extra richness and sheen. Keep warm until needed.
Recipe and photos by Mike Heywood, South London resident, regular customer, pork devotee, home chef and instagrammer extraordinaire. To see more stay tuned to this blog or follow Mike on Instagram @4TELIER
Saddleback Pork farmed by Maurice Trumper, Monmouthshire. Meat cut and sourced by The Butchery Ltd.