You may consider what to prepare for the holiday meal at the end of yet another year. This year, we’re making a roast straight out of Italy: Porchetta, a delicious herb-roasted pork belly with crackling skin.

What is Porchetta?

Porchetta is a beautifully juicy pig roast that is boneless and fatty and is marinated in a mixture of garlic, salt, pepper, aromatic herbs (such as rosemary), and, in some cases, fennel.

Although it is traditionally served hot, it is also commonly seen cold and cut for sandwiches. The flavor of Porchetta may be more recognizable to you if you’ve ever had an “Italian roast pork” sandwich.

Our version

Our pork belly is rolled up with roasted fennel, garlic, sage, and rosemary for a flavorful take on the traditional Italian dish, Porchetta.

The pork belly skin is scored and punctured to guarantee a tender roast with plenty of crispy skin. Although Porchetta typically benefits from a slow roasting process, we’ve developed a technique that yields the same delicious results in just 2 1/2 hours.

Here’s a different kind of holiday roast for your enjoyment.

Ingredients:

  • 5 to 6 lb. of fresh boneless lean pork belly(skin on)
  • 1 tbsp. of fennel seeds (toasted and coarsely ground)
  • 1½ tbsp. of minced fresh sage
  • 1½ tbsp. of minced fresh rosemary
  • ½ tsp. of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 cloves of garlic (grated)
  • 1½ tbsp. of sea salt or Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. of sugar
  • 1 tsp. of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. of fresh lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp. of light olive oil
  • 1 large onion (sliced)

Instructions:

  1. First, score the skin lightly in a diagonal checkerboard pattern to get the pork belly ready, leaving 1 inch between score lines. Be careful not to cut the skin completely and expose the underlying fat. For maximum crispiness and crackling, score it so the skin splits when roasting.
  2. Then, with a metal kebab skewer or a two-pronged roasting fork, make holes about an inch apart and deep on the underside of the pork belly.
  3. Mix the ground fennel seeds with the sage, rosemary, crushed red pepper flakes, garlic, sugar, black pepper, lemon zest, and olive oil to make the marinade paste. To add an extraordinary depth of flavor, try lightly toasting your fennel seeds in a dry pan. Take care not to burn them as they toast quickly over a medium flame.
  4. Apply the marinade to all sides and the skin of the pork belly. Wrap the marinated pork belly in plastic wrap, skin side up, and refrigerate it for at least a day. Marinating for at least 1/2 hours is recommended for optimal results.
  5. Remove the pork belly from the fridge the following day and let it sit at room temperature for about 2 hours. Put a rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat to 475 degrees when it’s at room temperature.
  6. The time has come to roll up your pork belly into a classic porchetta. To cook the pork belly, place the skin side down. The pork belly is rolled from the uncut side to the other side. The cut is so deep that it more closely resembles a fold than a roll. Get out your butcher’s string and wrap it snugly around the roast many times, leaving spaces of approximately an inch between each wrap.
  7. Put the sliced onions on a baking sheet and fill the entire surface with water. You should top it with the roast. Herbs and spices that remain on the surface of the pork roast should be brushed off and set to the side before cooking.
  8. Roasts need to be cooked at 475 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn the pan 180 degrees and roast for another 5. Roast for a further 2 hours at a temperature of 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  9. Water should be added to the pan every 20 minutes to prevent the dripping from scorching. Pan drippings are traditionally served alongside Porchetta, so it’s crucial that they don’t burn before serving.
  10. The Porchetta should be cooked for 2 1/2 hours until the skin is a dark golden brown and the diagonal scores are visible. The skin may appear crisp at this point, but it will likely still be a little tough and leathery, even if it is smooth. So, crank up the oven heat to 450 degrees Fahrenheit to get that cracklin’ and crispy skin on your Porchetta.
  11. Once the oven reaches 450 degrees Fahrenheit, continue roasting the Porchetta for another 10 to 15 minutes, checking it every 5 minutes. When the skin on top of the roast begins to bubble, tent it with a long, narrow sheet of foil, covering the roast from end to end but keeping the sides uncovered to the high heat. Roast it until you get that bubbling, crackling skin on both sides.
  12. The level of crispiness you desire in the skin is a matter of personal preference. If the skin is bubbled up, it will be crispy; if it is somewhat smooth, it will still be somewhat tough and leathery. When the roast has reached the desired doneness, remove it from the oven and allow it to rest for 15 minutes.
  13. Carefully cut and remove the butcher’s string from the skin of the roast once it has rested. Place the roast on a serving plate and slice it where the string was knotted to obtain evenly sized 1 1/2-inch thick pieces.
  14. Drain the liquids from the pan into a gravy separator using a strainer. Add some boiling water to the pan and deglaze it to extract more of the pan juices. Serve the fluids in a gravy boat or gravy bowl on the side.
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