In the land of large roasts, this Italian Porchetta may just be king.  I’ve seen many different versions on this recipe, but this one, using pork loin and belly is one of my favorites.  I’ll show you have to make a wonderful herb butter, that used to flavor the loin, that is literally wrapped up in a large slab of pork belly.  The two cuts of pork have unique flavors and textures, and when roasted slowly at low heat come together in a perfect pork harmony.  It’s perfect for a Sunday meal, especially during winter when you’re locked inside all day.   Give it a try, and hope you enjoy it!

Recipe overview and keys to success:

  1. When working this roasts this large, seasoning is very important.  It’s a lot of meat to flavor, and so be generous with the salt and pepper
  2. You need to cook the roast for a long time, 5 – 8 hours at pretty low heat, as the belly is a pretty tough cut and needs time to get tender
  3. Sear the outside of the roast before putting it into the oven to get a nice crust on the outside – the oven won’t be hot enough to get that crust on it’s own
  4. Finally, let the roast rest for about 20 minutes when you take it out of the oven.  Resting the meat will allow the juices to settle, as opposed to running right out of the meat if you cut into it immediately.

Ingredients

  • 1 center cut pork loin, about 4 inches in diameter – about a pound
  • 1 very large slab of pork belly – large enough to wrap around the loin, like a jelly role
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons ground fennel
  • 2 cups of chicken stock
  • Salt and pepper

Italian Porchetta

  • Wrap the unpeeled garlic cloves in foil and put into a 300 degree oven for about 30 minutes, or until soft
  • Squeeze out the flesh of the garlic and put into a sauce pan with the butter, and put over low heat until melted
  • Add the herbs and mix together to form a paste, move to a bowl to cool
  • Lay out the pork belly with the fattier side up on a cutting board and score it with cuts about ¼ inch deep
  • Turn the belly around so the flat side is down on a cutting board
  • If it is of uneven thickness pound out the thicker parts to get it approximately equal thickness
  • Season liberally with salt and pepper, and then smear the herb paste evenly over the belly
  • Lay the pork loin at one end of the belly, and then wrap it up like a jellyroll, until fully wrapped
  • Ideally there is a couple inches where the belly overlaps (if not try to pound out the belly more to stretch it)
  • Position the wrapped loin on the cutting board so the overlap is one the cutting board, and the weight of the meat keeps it wrapped
  • Use butchers twine to tie up the roast, with a string about every 2 inches
  • Season the outside with salt, pepper and the ground fennel
  • Put the porchetta on a rack in a roasting pan into a preheated 500 degree oven
  • Cook for about 30 minutes at 500 to get the outside starting to brown, and then reduce the heat to 250
  • Continue to cook for ~4 hours, until the center reaches 160 degrees; at about the 2 hours mark add the chicken stock
  • Remove the porchetta from the oven and allow it to rest while you make the sauce
  • Remove the dripping from the pan and separate and discard the fat
  • Add the cleaned dripping back to a sauce pan, and slowly drizzle in a bit of the cornstarch mixed with water, stiring as you do
  • The sauce will thicken immediately and when it reached the desired consistency, you’re done
  • Slice the meat into ¼ to ½ inch slices and drizzle some of the sauce over the top

Wine Recommendation

Porchetta recipes hail from central Italy and I generally love to find wines from the regions where the dish generally comes from.  The rich meat will easily stand up to a medium body red wine, and I think a Sangiovse grape in Chianti would work very well.  Even better would be a Montepulciano d'Abruzzi, which is one of my favorites.    Enjoy!

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