Porchetta

Being a lifelong Italophile there aren’t many Italian recipes I’ve tried and not loved, but being a lifelong hater of pork as well as offal the idea of a chicken liver-stuffed rolled piece of pork never appealed to me. And I have to say that even now, after having made this recipe and enjoyed it, that hasn’t really changed, I just don’t love pork; no, not even bacon. What I do love is trying something new, whether it’s eating or cooking it. I also love to learn new techniques and a stuffed rolled piece of meat was something I had never tried to make. But the Italian nonna in me loves nothing more than feeding the people I love, and so when we had our annual family feast day lunch coming up both hubby and I decided that a porchetta was just what the doctor ordered.

This recipe is by the passionate and legendary Italian chef Gennaro Contaldo, and I mostly followed it, apart from skipping the sweet wine {we were out of it}, the pork mince for the stuffing {enough pork already}, as well as the breadcrumbs {because my piece of pork was smaller and there was plenty of stuffing already}. I also couldn’t get my hands on a piece of pork with the loin attached so I used a large belly and butterflied the sides out to make a couple of flaps to fold over the stuffing before rolling. For his exact recipe on Jamie Oliver’s website click HERE.

I didn’t weigh or measure anything because it’s just not that kind of recipe, but I have listed rough quantities below. All you really need to know is how large your piece of pork is so you can accurately calculate the cooking time.

what you need

for the stuffing:

  • a good glug of olive oil
  • one large brown onion, finely diced
  • approx 300 g of chicken livers, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely diced or grated
  • a handful of wild mushrooms {porcini, oyster, etc}
  • fresh sage and parsley, finely chopped
  • pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • a handful of sultanas
  • salt and lots of pepper

for the rest:

  • one large piece of pork belly {approx 3 – 4 kg}, bones removed and butterflied a little on the longer sides to form a wide and level piece. Or ask your butcher to help.
  • lots of sea salt and black peppercorns
  • fresh fennel seeds
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • dry white wine, approx a glass {Pinot Grigio or Riesling would be perfect}
  • kitchen or butchers twine
  • one pack of carrots and two brown onions, unpeeled

what to do

  • Preheat the oven to 250 C. Start by preparing the stuffing, so that while it cools you can prepare the pork and have the stuffing ready to go. In a large fry pan heat the olive oil, and gently sweat the onion for a few minutes. Add the chicken livers and mushrooms and increase the heat so they brown. After about five minutes add the garlic and herbs, and season with salt and pepper. Fry for a couple of minutes then remove from heat and stir through the sultanas and pine nuts.

  • If the butcher hasn’t already prepared the pork you will need to make sure it’s as evenly sized as you can get it, so butterfly the long sides to both even out the thickness, and also to make a larger surface for the stuffing and to make rolling it easier. If you like, remove any overly fatty pieces of fat from the surface, but don’t go overboard, it’ll need all that fat for the long cooking time. Lightly score the meat side of the pork and season the skin side with salt and pepper.

  • In a mortar and pestle crush some sea salt, peppercorns, and fennel seeds. When you have a fine powder spread it all over the meat side of the pork, rubbing it into the scored lines with your fingers. Then spread the stuffing over the top of the fennel mixture, but not right to the ends.

  • Take the sides you butterflied and fold them back over the stuffing, then roll from the long sides as tightly as you can. Secure with kitchen or butcher twine, both around the length at 2 cm intervals as well as once around the top and bottom. If any stuffing has fallen out squash it back into the ends. Rub the rolled pork well with olive oil.

  • Arrange the unpeeled carrots in a baking dish, and slice the onions into thick discs and place around the carrots, you want to form a base for the pork to sit on. {I tried just onions but they softened too quickly and the pork rolled off}. Place the pork on top and pour the white wine into the pan around the pork.
  • Place in the oven and cook for about thirty minutes at 250 C, then reduce to 200 C and continue cooking for approximately 2.5 to 3 hours, depending on the size of your pork. Allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before carving, and keep in mind that the aim isn’t for traditional crackling, but rather super crispy skin that shatters like glass.

 

 

 

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