How to Make Porchetta
Porchetta is deliciously moist rolled pork belly, covered with a crisp, crunchy skin and seasoned with fresh green herbs giving it the most sensational flavour. It is traditionally slow cooked for several hours in a wood fire oven and my Dad, who has been making it for 20 years, is the master who will share his techniques! Not for the faint hearted, good porchetta does require some patience…but the end result is literally MELT-IN-YOUR-MOUTH ridiculously, great.
Vincenzo’s Top Tips To Make Porchetta
Beautiful cut is a way to go!
Make sure you request a beautiful pork belly cut from your butcher. It’s very important it has the fat on it, because this will help the porchetta to remain moist when cooking away.
Tight net is a MUST
The net needs to be tight, and hug the cylinder, as this is what will help it to keep its form but you need to leave excess at the bottom, so it has room to move.
Patience is the key
It’s a long time for Porchetta to cook, we know! But one thing for sure…IT’S WORTH THE WAIT!
- Cylinder Pipe or Tube
- Deep tray with grill rack
- Small pieces of string
- Woodfire oven or Conventional fan forced oven
- 4 kg Pork belly 8.8 pounds
- Salt & Pepper
- Bay leaves
- Sprinkle salt over the pork belly – all over it, making sure to cover the edges, sides and the middle. Repeat with pepper, and nutmeg.
- To add to the flavour of the porchetta, place fresh (or dried) bay leaves on top, putting them side by side (positioning them horizontally).
- Next up, open the bottle of Brandy, and covering half of the opening with your finger, drizzle it sparsely over the top of the porchetta, being sure not to pour too much out at once.
- Now, let the porchetta rest, at room temperature, allowing the aromas to infuse into the meat, for 3 hours.
- In the meantime, get your cylinder, and cut a piece of net which will fit the width of the porchetta, placing it over one end, and stretching it over the sides, until you are 2/3 way to the top and leaving some excess hanging at the bottom.
- Pull down the net from the centre (gently!) and twist it slightly, then tie this into a double knot – so the porchetta doesn’t fall out!
- Once the wait is up, it’s time to get back to your belly! Remove the bay leaves, then pick up one end of the pork, and start to roll it into a log-like shape, keeping the layers tight and pressing down firmly to make sure there are no gaps.
- Once finished, hold the cylinder upright (you might need some help!) and push the roll firmly down into the cylinder, shaking it, until it falls through and helping it down, and all the way out.
- When it is out, twist the open end of the net, and turn the porchetta over, slapping it hard to make sure it is tightly rolled and then tie a firm knot around this end too.
- HOW TO COOK THE PORCHETTA:
- Using foil, wrap the porchetta completely, using a few pieces, to make sure there are no gaps. Cover each end too, pressing down to keep it firmly on the pork.
- Now, using a fork, prick the foil almost all over – but be gentle as there is no need to do this to the meat. This technique, will help the fat to come out.
- Pre-heat a woodfire oven to 300 degrees celcius (or 572F).
- Get the tray, and place the grill rack inside, then pour water into the bottom of it, making sure it doesn’t touch the porchetta. This is the best technique to allow the fat to drip and prevent it from sticking to the pan. It will also help to cook the meat, with the vapour it will produce, keeping it tender.
- Place the tray in the oven, and leave it to cook for 10hr at this temperature.
- After 10 hours, remove it from the oven, take off the aluminium foil, then place it back on the rack and in the oven for between 1-1.5 hour.
- This extra time, will allow for the crust to form and requires you to turn the porchetta over every 20min or so, to ensure it is consistently crunchy all-round!
- Now…just a little more patience! Remove it from the oven, leave it to rest, covered with a tea towel or cloth for 2 hr….then it’s time to DEVOUR it!
- E ora si mangia, Vincenzo’s Plate….Enjoy!
How to serve Porchetta
Cut into the crust of the porchetta using a sharp knife, and removing part of it, breaking it into pieces. Then slice the delicious creation , serving it up with several pieces each of the crust…or maybe just a few so you can save them all for yourself!
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