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Porchetta

by Paul Grout from MEAT LONDON, THE BOOK (Cloake Press)

Photography: Caroline Mardon


One of our team comes from Rome and every time the boys mention or make porchetta, her eyes glaze over with excitement, or is it may be memories of home?   The physical making of porchetta is nearly as much fun as eating it.  In Italy porchetta is often sold from food vans at markets, as street food – with slices carved off to order and placed inside a panino (bread roll).  It is a dish you can also cook at home in the oven or on the barbecue.  By nature of the piece of meat, it is very difficult to make a small porchetta.  This recipe uses a 4kg piece here, but you could get away with a 2kg piece.  Anyway, just invite your friends round for a porchetta party.



Ingredients

4kg pork middle – the loin and belly in one piece, de-boned and skin scored


For the seasoning:

1 level tbsp cracked black pepper

1 level tbsp fennel seeds

1 level tbsp chopped garlic

1 tsp chopped oregano

1 tsp chopped rosemary

1 tsp salt

 

Method

In a bowl, mix all of the seasoning ingredients together.  Lay the pork on your work surface, skin side down, and stretch it out.  Sprinkle the seasoning evenly over the pork and get stuck in.  Rub the seasoning all over the pork ensuring that it all gets covered.  From the loin side, tightly roll the pork, so that the belly is in on the outside.  Turn the pork onto the seam to stop it unrolling.

 


Use butcher’s twine to tie the meat every 4cm to create a nice cylindrical shape.  Don’t worry about the knots, you’re not applying for a job!  Once the meat is tied, let it rest for at least an hour in the fridge.  You can prepare it a day in advance and let the seasoning really get to work.  You can then cook it either in the oven or the barbecue.

 

Let the oven warm up to its highest setting.  Put the pork into a deep oven dish and place it in the centre of the oven.  Immediately reduce the heat to 180C.  Cook for 30 minutes, then baste the skin with the juices in the oven dish.  Baste every 20 minutes or so for the next 3 hours.  The skin will crackle and become a golden colour.  If you think that the skin is burning, make a loose covering with aluminium foil.

 

When the porchetta is cooked through to at least 75C at its centre, remove it from the oven and let it rest for 30 minutes.


Or set your barbecue to 200C.  Attach the porchetta firmly to the spit and rub the outside with good cooking oil.  Put the porchetta in place with a drip tray underneath, to catch the juices.  Allow to rotate for at least 30 minutes, with the barbecue lid closed, before looking in and basting the pork.  It will take between 2 and 3 hours to cook, and you should baste the meat with its juices every 30 minutes.  The heat of the barbecue will diminish with cooking.  If it falls below 150C, you add some more coals.  Spit roasting takes a little more effort, but for flavour, it gets my vote.

 

When the porchetta is cooked, let it rest for 30 minutes, find the ciabatta rolls and open a bottle of Sangiovese.


Drinks tasted on air alongside the dish.


 

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