COOKING PORCHETTA 

 Porchetta is a speciality of Tuscany and Umbria, popular at many weekend markets and neighborhood butcher shops. In its definitive form, it’s a roast whole young pig stuffed with bread and offal, scented with wild fennel, rosemary, and sage – the intoxicating herbs of Central Italy – and is highly salted. It’s so delicious. Sometimes chili flakes are added, but not always. Its flavors have a clear, strong voice and are mouth-wateringly good. The sliced meat is piled onto thick slices of rustic, unsalted, Tuscan bread soaked with the pan juices, and sometimes brightened with salsa verde; my dear friend, Dario Cecchini, the butcher of Panzano, brilliantly serves it with his sweet-hot pepper mostarda. 

My porchetta is a friendlier version than the Tuscan whole-pig one; the skin- on loin is stuffed with the herbs and garlic. The belly is wrapped around the loin and tied in place for roasting. It’s hard to overcook. You want the roast to be crisp on the outside and tender inside; it can almost fall apart. The skin naturally crates cracklings. Be sure to let it rest for 30 minutes before slicing, or cool it entirely and make yummy sandwiches the next day. The porchetta will keep in the fridge for 5 days, or can be frozen for up to 2 months. 

To cook: Bring porchetta to room termperature – allow it to sit at room temperature for an hour or so. Place porchetta on a rack in a roasting pan with the skin side up, or on its side of easier. Roast in a 425° F oven for 1½ hours, until the skin is crisp. Turn the oven down to 375° F and cook for another hour-and-twenty minutes to 1½ hours. Internal temperaure should be above 165° F. Allow porchetta to rest 30 minutes before slicing, or serve cold the next day with your own pepper mostarda. 

©2019 christopher lee