Porchetta is a traditional Italian street food made from a whole deboned pig that it stuffed with herbs and spices and slow roasted in a fire pit and then pulled apart and usually put between two pieces of delicious crusty bread. Driving through any place in Italy you are likely to come across a roadside trailer selling this magical food. It is really out of this world delicious, just the smell when you are driving by is just heavenly and the panino itself... oh man...
So anyway, Mr. Grad got on about wanting some Porchetta, now I don't have the space nor inclination to roast a whole pig, let alone the stomach to debone the poor beast, but I promised I'd try to make some for him. I began my research in earnest, there are so many Porchetta recipe's out there with all kinds of ingredients and I think a lot of them have tried to jazz up the dish to make it less humble street food and more gourmet 'look at what I made' kind of food. I didn't want any of that because the great and wonderful thing about Italian food is that it is simple! Forget all this Pine Nuts, Raisins and Chicken Livers nonsense. I'm sure it's delicious... well kind of... raisins and meat never particularly struck me as good together... but it's not Porchetta as I know it. A lot of recipes also are intended for slicing the meat which Mr. Grad informs me is not particularly common, rather it's more reminiscent of pulled pork. This is why if you are going for that kind of feel the Shoulder is better than the Belly as it falls apart so much better. We are also not huge fans of Pork Belly because of the amount of fat it has in it, nothing really worse than chewing through fat.
After a good few recipes I came across a few that seemed to fit the bill so I set about making porchetta.
We were also really lucky because at this time I had just received a new programme invite by Tesco Orchard for their meat campaign. If you don't know what Tesco Orchard is you should totally check it out. Basically you fill in surveys and they invite you to try out new products based on your survey answers. They send you out vouchers which usually entitles you to a free product and extra vouchers to give to your friends. All you have to do is just talk about the product and report back to Tesco in the form of Tweets, Facebook Posts, Reviews, Blogs and so on, whatever you like! It's so much fun!
So onto Porchetta, thanks to Tesco Orchard I had a £10 voucher for fresh meat and they were also running a promotion on Pork Shoulder at £2.99 per kg. I managed to get a 3.6kg piece of deboned Pork Shoulder for 90p! Talk about a bargain! Now I had to butterfly it and well that was my first attempt and whilst perhaps it wasn't the neatest it did the job just fine! There are plenty of videos on youtube if you don't know how to do it, or you could ask your butcher to do it for you. Unfortunately I don't have a butcher but perhaps with time I will get better. I'm pretty sure I'll have plenty of practice because this went down SO well... I actually gave some to another Italian friend who loved it too so it does have the native seal of approval! I promise you if you make this you will LOVE it. It has so much flavour and is so fall apart tender and moist! and then you get the delicious crunchy skin running through and oh my just delicious!
You do need to plan a little bit in advance for this as it needs to sit in the fridge overnight but it's so totally worth it. You won't be able to stop yourself picking at it! It also makes a huge amount, the 3.5kg joint we made fed us at least 6 times! (not including all the sneaky mouthfuls we took). You can also freeze the leftovers and just reheat them as you need for instant deliciousness.
- 2kg Butterflied Pork Shoulder Joint - Skin on - deboned weight
- 3 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 large Onion - peeled and finely diced
- 6 Cloves Garlic - minced
- 2 tbsp Fennel Seeds
- 3 tbsp fresh Rosemary - chopped
- 4 Bay Leaves - really finely chopped or crumbled
- 1 tsp Ground Cloves
- 1 tsp Salt
- 2 tsp Black Pepper
- Butcher's twine or string.
- Unroll the pork joint and cover with clingfilm, bash with a rolling pin or mallet until you get an even thickness, about 1" should do it, but don't worry too much if its not totally even.
- Heat 2tbsp of the oil in a large pan over a medium high heat. Add the Onion, Rosemary, Bay Leaves, Salt and pepper and half of the Garlic, Fennel Seeds and Ground Cloves. Cook for a 2-3 minutes until fragrant then transfer to a plate to cool.
- Rub the herb mixture over the pork and then roll up the meat as tightly as possible and secure with the butcher's twine/string.
- Mix the remaining Oil, Garlic, Fennel Seeds and Cloves and rub all over the skin and outside of the meat then wrap in clingfilm and leave in the fridge for 24 hours ideally but at least overnight.
- Remove the meat from the fridge about 30 minutes before cooking and preheat the oven to 150C/140C Fan/Gas Mark 1.
- Transfer the meat to a large roasting tray, removing the cling film of course.
- Roast in the oven for around 5 hours until it is falling apart (you can even baste it a couple of times with the juice if you so wish but it's not necessary). If the herbs and spices start to blacken too much just cover with some foil.
- Turn up the oven to around 200C/180C Fan/Gas Mark 6 and cook for a further 10 minutes to crisp up the skin.
- Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 20 minutes before shredding with 2 forks. You can also peel off the skin and chop up to mix into the shredded meat for added crunch. (Though most of it usually gets eaten by the chef during the shredding process)
- We served ours in toasted Ciabatta Rolls with a few leaves of fresh crisp lettuce and it was soooo good.
You could also toss into a salad, it's also good on top of Polenta, or just straight from the fridge into your mouth!
(for larger or smaller joints just adjust the time, the 3.5kg joint we had took 6.5 hours, but just keep checking until it's fall apart tender.)