August 25, 2013
Since moving to Vancouver, I’ve had the pleasure of eating Meat and Bread’s porchetta sandwich
. I saw the guy at the counter chopping up this big hunk of porchetta and that picture stayed in my mind. That was two months ago.
So yesterday, I hosted a small dinner for my friendly neighbours. It was the perfect opportunity for me to make porchetta because in this household where vegetarianism is more of a norm, I rarely get the opportunity to make roasts for dinners (unless it’s roasted vegetables, which I also love but that’s not the point). This was my chance! Merrily, I went to Big Lou’s Butcher Shop to get myself some pork loin and belly. The guy at Big Lou was like, “Ohh..we might have a cut where the pork belly is still attached to the loin”. That is the cut Meat and Bread uses for their porchetta! I was elated. Five-point-five pounds of porkage later, I was home and ready to start. I realized that the butcher didn’t exactly cut the pork properly for me. The pork belly end’s width was smaller than the loin end so I cut about 70% of the pork belly section out and rolled it as a separate roast.
I had the taste of the M&B’s porchetta in mind but I needed some guidance on the temperature and method. So I found iamafoodblog.com’s porchetta recipe and boy, did her porchetta looked good. I checked out her method, found out the temperature she used and decided I’m going to adapt the recipe a tad bit but keep the same cooking method. It was similar to my aunt’s roast pork method anyway so it made sense.
This recipe feels like it’s a lot of effort but active time is probably only 30 minutes if you get the butcher to score the meat for you and the rest is refrigeration, waiting and cooking the porchetta. It’s slow cooking goodness 🙂
Before you start
Please note that you need to start preparing the pork 24 hours before serving for the best results.
You will need twines to tie the pork up (ask your butcher for them).
Paper towels to dry the pork skin.
Toast all your spices first before pounding them.
To maintain a lovely green pesto, blitz the herbs, seasoning and lemon juice first and then stir in the oil.
Make sure your porchetta is not fridge cold when it goes into the oven.
If you have convection setting in your oven, use it.
Porchetta ala Meat and Bread with parsley and lemon pesto sauce
serves 6 (or 4 people with leftovers to make sandwiches the day after!)
- 5lb to 6lb of pork belly and pork loin with skin intact
- 1/4cup of salt
- 1 tsp of red chili flakes
- 1 tablespoon of ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon of ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon of lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon of black pepper powder
Herbs for stuffing (you can use any fresh herbs you want, this is what I used)
- 1/2 cup of parsley, chopped
- 1 tablespoon of lemon rind, chopped
- 1/2 cup of dill, chopped
- 1/2 cup of sage, chopped
- 1 head of garlic, chopped finely
- black pepper and chili flakes, to your taste
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 teaspoon chili flakes
- 2 cups of parsley
- a handful of dill (1/4 cup maybe?)
- 1/4 cup of lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- black pepper, to taste
- enough olive oil to coat until the pesto gives a lacquered shine (approximately 1 cup or less)
- For the salt rub: Combine all the ingredients for the salt rub. Set aside.
- Take your pork belly and loin and score the skin into crisscross actions or prick it with the sharp point of your knife (you will have to prick it a lot so scoring is much better). After scoring the skin, make some cuts on the meat side as well, this helps get the flavours into the meat better.
- Sprinkle generous amounts of the salt rub over the meat section. You wanna use at least half of your salt rub. And it might seem like an obscene amount but it is not. Trust me. Massage the salt rub into the crevices of the cuts, you want the flavour of the herbs to get in there. Refrigerate overnight (or up to two days) on a wire rack over top a tray, covered with aluminum foil, because the salt is gonna do its thing and a lot of liquid is going to eke out of the pork.
- Morning of roasting day: You want to take the pork out of the fridge and stuff it with the herbage of your choice. Be generous with the herbs and again massage it into the cuts on the meat section to really get the flavours in there. Roll the pork like a jelly roll and secure with some twine to keep the roll tight and even. Here’s a video on how you can tie a roast the proper way: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIQOaP77hHI
I’m a noob so I tied individual loop knots for each section. And that’s okay, you can do this too.
- Dab any excess liquid off the pork skin and sprinkle a big pinch of the salt rub and drizzle some oil over the skin. Massage and rub the the salt and oil evenly. It’s ready to roast!
- Heat the oven to 275F or 135C and cook the pork for 2.5 hours. You wanna go low and slow and it does two things: 1) the loin meat is going to stay juicy 2) the pork skin gets a chance to come up to temperature evenly in preparation for the heat blast you will give it for that delicious crackling.
- After 2.5 hours, crank up the heat to 450F or 230C and cook the porchetta for another 30-40 minutes. This step is important for crackling formation. You want the skin to bubble up and “bloom” because that’s how you know your crackling will be crispy. If the skin looks shiny, even and feels hard, it is not ready. You’re gonna break a jaw or two when you bite into it.
- Let the pork roast rest for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Warning: The sound of your knife cutting through the crispy crackling may give you foodgasms.
- For the pesto: In a food process, blitz all the ingredient for the pesto (except oil) until fine. Stir oil in until you get a nice shiny paste. Making pesto this way retains the colour of the paste and I like the separation between chopped herbs and globules of oil. You can also hand chop your ingredients. You can make the pesto the night before or while you roast your porchetta.
Disclaimer: In the midst of dinner and excitement, I forgot to take pictures when the porchetta came out of the oven. All the pictures are post dinner with left over porchetta.