Porchetta is a very traditional Italian street food. It is the whole pork loin (basically the meat in a pork chop) with the skin and belly (basically unsmoked bacon) left attached. It is then stuffed, rolled and tied (sounds like a bad 80’s bachelor party movie) and slowly roasted for several hours. Traditionally, there were carts that sold Porchetta as a panino or sandwhich carved right off the roasting spit and big clelbrations or holidays (the first versions of food trucks i guess!). Today they are available for you to cook up right in your home and you will only feel like you wnet to italy!
There are a million ways to do porchetta, and even different cuts of pork that can be used. Classically, it’s a pork loin rolled up in a skin-on pork belly…how great is that?
Here is how it’s done:
- We cut and tie the roast so that you have a “map” for how it should be tied for proper cooking. When you get it home, put it in the fridge, draped with a kitchen towel for a day or two. This will dry out the skin, giving you a great crisp when you roast it. Next you want to unroll it and prepare it for roasting. Pay attention to how it is tied so that you can duplicate it later.
- Once it is unrolled, make cross-hatch slices about a 1/4″ deep on the FLESH side of the belly
- Now it’s time to get creative! You want to cover the belly with your preferred seasonings. Red wine, garlic, rosemary, fennel, red pepper flakes, sage and citrus are all commonly used, but the sky is the limit here.
- Once you have thoroughly coated the inside of the belly with your concoction, season the loin with salt and pepper and re-roll and tie. Let this sit in the fridge for at least a couple hours, preferably overnight.
- Now it’s roasting time. As you know from reading my ramblings, you need to bring this to room temperature before it goes in the oven. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. While your porchetta is sitting on the counter, start stabbing it with a paring knife. WHAAAT??? I know, usually I am not a proponent of piercing the outside of any piece of meat I’m cooking. But stabbing the roast all over will do a couple of things. First, it allows the skin to shrink during cooking without pulling off the loin, keeping the loin moist. It also makes for a super crispy skin as it self bastes.
- Since you have already made a bunch of holes, this is a good time to insert a probe thermometer into the roast. Set the alarm for 135 degrees. Put the roast in the oven for about 30 min at 500, rotating the pan and turning the roast every 10 min or so. You are trying to get a nice golden crust.
- Once you have that, turn the oven down to 225 and roast until the alarm goes off. If you don’t have a fancy probe thermometer, a stick thermometer will do fine. Start checking the middle of the loin at about an hour and a half.
- Once you hit 135 internal temp, remove roast and rest on the counter for 30 minutes, tented with foil. It makes an incredibly beautiful meal, and even better sandwiches the next day!