Originating in central Italy (Rome) from as far back as 400BC, Porchetta, the Italian street food of choice, is a savory, fatty, and moist boneless pork roast mostly eaten in a sandwich or panino.
Typically Porchetta is prepared using a whole pig, half pig or pork shoulder. The meat is gutted, de-boned, arranged carefully with layers of meat and fat, stuffed with fresh herbs and spices, rolled in its own skin, spitted, and roasted, traditionally over hardwood coals.
In a classic Porchetta recipe the meat is first seasoned with high quality sea salt and black pepper then stuffed with a paste like mixture of olive oil, lemon zest, and fresh herbs & spices, primarily garlic, rosemary, sage, thyme, toasted fennel seeds or wild-fennel pollen, bay leaves and fresh red peperoncini or chili flakes.
Onion, Fresh Fennel, Parsley, Oregano, Coriander Seeds, Anise Seeds, Pine Nuts, Chestnuts, Nutmeg, White/Red Wine, Chicken Stock. For extra meat and flavour use minced pork shoulder seasoned or sausage meat removed from casing. Spice List
The Porchetta Sandwich
Porchetta was introduced to North America by Italian immigrants in the early 20th century, and is sometimes referred to as "Italian Pulled Pork". Porchetta is best served in a sandwich (or panino in Italian). Given the meat is so flavourful its best to eat the Porchetta in a fresh bun and on its own. If prepared right the perfect amount of fat & meat along with proper cooking and holding methods should offer a Porchetta that is juicy and moist.
The bread should be fresh, light and crusty with a subtle flavour.
A ciabatta bun from a quality bakery is usually the bread of choice.
For additional flavours and/or moisture it is common to see restaurants offer sandwich toppings such fresh micro greens and steamed-sauteed vegetables like rapini, spinach, roasted peppers, onions and mushrooms, provolone cheese or drizzle seasoned olive oil over the meat. You should never put a BBQ sauce on your Porchetta.
How To Order
When ordering a Porchetta panino (sandwich) in Italy the vendor will ask you if you want your Porchetta "magro" or "grasso", (lean or fatty). The consensus among Porchetta aficionados is to order your Porchetta "medium" or half lean with a little fat for moisture and flavour. Make sure to ask for little pieces of crispy skin "crackling" to be added to your sandwich or on the side. The skin adds both flavour and a great texture to your plate or sandwich.
(Roast Suckling Pig with Herbs)
- 2 kg suckling pig
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 branches of Rosemary
- 1 branch of Sage
- 1 branch of Basil
- 1 glass olive oil
- Salt, pepper
- Ask your butcher to prepare the suckling pig.
- Make sure it has been emptied, boned and the head removed; making it easier to carve.
- Cut the meat into large chunks.
- Boil them for 1 to 2 minutes. Drain and scrape the skin with a sharp knife, avoiding cutting into the rind.
- Wash and sponge the meat.
- Peel the garlic and chop with the rosemary, sage and basil.
- Grease an oven dish, and place the chunks of meat on it.
- Pour over olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Cover the meat with the chopped herbs.
- Put it into the middle of the oven and leave to cook at a medium heat for 3 hours, turning the meat every 30 minutes.
- Serve hot.
To improve the aromas of this dish, add fresh fennel, nutmeg and a little white wine. Chop these up with the other herbs. You can also cook the whole suckling pig without cutting it up first. To do this you should place it in foil for the first hour of cooking.