Tag Archives: Porchetta

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.


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.


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
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.
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.


MAIALINO ARROSTO (Roast, suckling pig)

Cooking large pigs roasted on a spit is a festive dish in many parts of Italy. Ariccia is a town south of Rome famous for its maiale (pork) especially popular at festivals and sold as street food.

Smaller versions of this dish are cooked in homes – the piglet is called a maialino di latte (it is still being fed by its mother’s milk) and the cooked dish is called porchetta (roast suckling pig) a popular dish in in the Lazio region of Italy and Rome is its principal city.

This maialino di latte- milk fed /suckling (and one other piglet) was cooked by a chef at Libertine, a French restaurant in North Melbourne. It was one of the courses for a festive occasion – a farewell lunch for friends who were going to live overseas for six months. It was also their twentieth wedding anniversary.

The piglet needs a fair sized oven. In villages in rural Italy the piglet was often roasted in the local baker’s large wood-burning oven – this would be made available to the local residents usually on a Sunday when the baker was not likely to be working.

In Italy some cooks bone the piglet before cooking – this makes carving and stuffing easier (usually a flavourful mixture of minced meat and often the organs of the pig).

The piglet can also be stuffed simply with herbs (regional Italian variations exist – in Sardinia it is called porceddu and it is likely to be flavoured with myrtle leaves, in Rome it could be rosemary and garlic and in other parts of Italy fennel seeds are used. Grated lemon rind also goes well.

Maialino is not something I cook, but I am familiar with this dish which is often cooked as the celebratory meal at New Year by some Italian families living in Australia (Porchetta). If you intend to use your oven, make sure that the piglet fits.

Begin preparations a day before cooking – the piglet will benefit from steeping in the herb mixture overnight.
Cooking time is approx. one hour per kilo (piglets available for sale in Australia are usually 7-10 kilos in weight or larger).

1 small suckling pig
extra virgin olive oil,1 cup for basting
wine (or water) approx 2 cups

Mixture to rub into piglet:
About 1 cup of fresh rosemary leaves cut finely, 3-4 tablespoons of crushed fennel seeds, 6-10 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed, salt
(liberal amount), and black pepper, 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil.

Ensure that the cavity of the piglet is clean with organs removed.
Make the mixture that you will use to rub into the pig.
Make slashes on its skin (at least two over the hips and two over the shoulders and others evenly spaced elsewhere) and insert some of the mixture into the slashes and on the inside cavity.
Place the piglet on a wire rack, over a tray, cover it with a large plastic bag and place it in the fridge overnight (keeping the outside skin of the piglet dry will help the crackling to form).
Preheat your oven with the fan on to 220 C.
Place the piglet in an oiled roasting pan (belly down, with its legs close to its body and tied together with string).
To prevent burning wrap the ears and tail in foil.
Place about 1 cup of white wine in the bottom of the pan to create steam and keep the meat succulent.
Rub the skin with more oil all and sprinkle salt over it (for crackling).
Place into the oven and roast it at 220C for 30 mins.
Lower the temperature to 200 C and cook it for the required number of hours. Turn the pan (but not the piglet – handle it gently) around every 30 mins and baste it with more oil and place some more wine
(or water) in the bottom of the pan each time.
Increase the temperature to 210-220 C in the final 30 minutes of cooking – remove the foil from the ears to allow the whole piglet to brown. The piglet should be a golden brown
Take the piglet out of the oven and leave to rest for 20-30 minutes to set.
Add more water or wine to the roasting pan and make a sughetto (gravy)
Carve it and serve with the sughetto.

See posts:

PORK SALUMI  (smallgoods). Tasting Australia 2010