The first time I tasted Porchetta was at this Brooklyn sandwich shop Zito's (they sadly are now closed). Hands down one of the best sandwiches I have ever had (more on this later. I will have a post about that sandwich). Anyways I was seeking to recreate the sandwich when I discovered its slightly a bigger project than I thought and its a roast.
Porchetta is a typical dish in Central Italy. To make Porchetta, a pig is skinned, deboned and then carefully layered—stuffing, meat, fat, skin—and finally rolled up, spitted and roasted over a wood fire.
Since I am not in the market to roast a whole pig, the next best thing is pork loin rolled up in pork belly. You could ask your butcher for a customized order to get the loin and belly still attached. I did spend a good 30 minutes with my butcher making sure I had the right size pork belly to wrap around the loin
To create your Porchetta you need to prep everything the day before you cook it. Properly season pork and then start rolling.
The results will be amazing! The meat will be golden in color, with odor of aromatic spices; the taste is mouth-watering, savory and very tender. The meat is delicious, but the fat is insane and the crust of the skin is perfectly crisp offering up a variety of textures as well as flavors.
1 3-4 pound pork belly, skin on, rectangle big enough to wrap around pork loin (butcher can customize this for you)
1 2-3 pound boneless, center-cut pork loin
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 lemon, zested
Toast the fennels seeds, peppercorns and red pepper flakes in a pan on medium-high until they are toasted and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Stirring constantly. Crush in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. Mix in the garlic, rosemary and lemon zest.
Set belly skin side up. Using a knife, poke deep holes about 1/4 inch through the skin all over belly.
Flip belly skin side down. Using a knife, score the belly flesh in a checkerboard pattern. This insures roast will cook evenly. Using a meat mallet, pound skin all over for about 3 minutes.
Flip the pork belly side up, and spread 2/3 of the rosemary fennel seasoning all over. Generously season belly and loin with salt.
Roll belly around loin. Season outside with remaining rosemary fennel seasoning and salt; tie crosswise with kitchen twine at 1/2" intervals. Refrigerate uncovered, for at least 1 day and up to 2 days to allow skin to air-dry (which makes a crispy skin); pat occasionally with paper towels.
Remove porchetta from refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Season porchetta with salt. Roast on rack in baking sheet or a roasting pan, rotate pan once, for 40 minutes. Skin should appear brown and crispy
Reduce heat to 300 degrees and continue roasting, rotating the pan every 30 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into center of meat registers 145 degrees, about 1 1/2-2 hours. Let rest for 30 minutes.