NOT QUITE PORCHETTA – Rolled belly pork

Porchetta is common in certain parts of central Italy and those of you who have travelled to Umbria, Lazio, Abruzzo and the Marche may have had slices of Porchetta in a panino or between two slices of rustic bread. Porchetta is a whole baby pig, boned, stuffed and roasted and it is common fare in regional fairs or markets; it is eaten hot or cold. In Italian a fair is called a Fiera and a market is a Mercato or Mercatino is a small market.

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But this recipe uses belly pork and although it called Porchetta, you now know that it is not, except for the stuffing. You would also know that there are always many variations in all Italian regional cooking, but rosemary, garlic and fennel are a must in this recipe.

I did not cook the following Porchetta and it is not my recipe – it is an adaptation of a Tobie Puttock recipe  published in New Idea a few years ago.The cook and host was my brother. The photographs are mine and hopefully they will help to explain the method of preparing the belly pork for cooking.

In the original recipe the skin is left on and honey is rubbed over the meat once it is out of the oven (I really cannot imagine why you would want to do this, but go ahead if you wish). My host removed the skin and cooked the meat on a roasting rack, this would also be my preference, as I do not like too much fat.

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One roll of meat was really enough for 4 people  and each roll was about 1.5 kg.

For the stuffing use a mixture of: fresh rosemary, sage sliced very finely (about 3 tablespoons of each) and 1-2ablespoons fennel seeds, 3-6 garlic cloves chopped finely. Add more or less of any of the above according to your personal preferences.
pork belly, skin on or off
salt and coarsely ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
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Preheat the oven to 240C
Lay the piece of meat onto a flat surface. Remove the skin or if you wish to keep it, lay the meat skin-side down. Sprinkle salt and pepper over it, rubbing them well into the meat with your fingers.
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Leave the meat to rest for at least 5 minutes.
Mix the stuffing together and sprinkle it evenly over the meat.
Roll up the meat and tie it up with butcher’s string. Push all excess filling into the meat.
Spread a little oil all over it. Then rub more salt and some more black pepper over the surface.
Place the rolled meat on a rack in a roasting tin.
Roast for ten minutes, then turn the meat over. After 15 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 150C; cover the meat with foil and roast it slowly for about 1.5- 2 hours. A larger piece of meat (5 kg) would require 3-3.5hours cooking.
Remove the meat from the oven (and if you wish to coat it with about 2 tablespoons of honey,this is the time to do it). Use some of the juices of the meat as well to baste over the pork.
Slice the meat and save any juices. If you wish to make a gravy, pour off any fat from the roasting tin, add a little water (enough to scrape up all the caramelized bits from the base of the tin). Add the juices from the meat and reduce slightly.
Pour this over the meat and serve.

Below…. size of pig used for making Porchetta.

piglet

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