My boyfriend Aaron and I love cooking together but when I am making recipes that I know well I get into my zone and end up doing everything myself. Since we had never made porchetta before we thought it would be fun to work through together.
This is a simplified recipe for homemade porchetta; instead of breaking down and deboning a whole pig then stuffing it with a blend of Italian spices, I opted to use a portion of pork loin and belly with the skin on. Porchetta is very versatile. While the meat is great on it’s own, I also love using it for sandwiches, on bagels in place of bacon, or in a breakfast hash.
Ask your butcher for a “porchetta cut”; a portion of the pork belly attached to the loin so you still get that crispy skin. If they don’t have that particular cut you can get the cuts of meat separately and roll the belly around the loin like I have done. While it’s a long process, the juicy, tender meat and crispy cracklings is worth the wait. Start making the porchetta 24-hours in advance so the meat can marinate in the herbs overnight and the skin can cure. It’s definitely a good weekend project since the meat also takes a fair amount of time to roast. This recipe is definitely not for those afraid of a fatty cut of meat, but the pork belly is what makes the loin meat so tender. Warning: you will have the urge to snack on the cracklings. Don’t resist them.
1 (5-6 pound) piece pork belly, skin-on
1 (2-pound) trimmed, boneless, center cut pork loin
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons kosher salt
7 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon orange zest
Cooking twine, as needed
Clear a large work area. On a large cutting board, place the pork belly skin side down and arrange the loin in the center. Roll the belly around the loin; if any of the belly overhangs trim the meat. Unroll and set the meat aside.
In a small skillet over medium-low heat, toast the fennel seeds and crushed red pepper until fragrant, about a minute. Remove the spices from the pan into a small mixing bowl, and then add the rosemary, thyme, sage and black pepper. Use a mortar and pestle or spice grinder to grind the spice mixture.
Place the pork belly skin side up on a large cutting board. Use a sharp knife to score the skin and fat in a crosshatch pattern, being careful not to cut down to the meat. Flip the pork belly, so that it is now skin side down. Use a pairing knife to poke holes all over the meat.
Generously season the pork belly on both sides with kosher salt as well as the loin. Flip the pork belly skin side down. Place the loin at the end of the pork belly. Rub the garlic and orange zest all over followed by the spice mixture.
Roll the belly around the loin. Tie with kitchen twine in ½” intervals. Place on a platter and refrigerate, uncovered, overnight.
Let the meat sit at room temperature for 1 hour. This ensures that the meat will cook evenly.
Preheat the oven to 450º. Transfer the roast to a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 35 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 325º and roast for an additional 3 hours, until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat reads 180º. Increase the heat to 500º and continue to roast until skin is crispy and golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Remove the roast from the oven and let it rest for at least 20 minutes before slicing. Remove the string and discard. Using a serrated knife, slice into ½” rounds.