Monday, December 30, 2013

Pork Belly Porchetta

Porchetta is traditionally a pork loin rubbed with aromatics and citrus, then wrapped in a pork belly and slow roasted. At our house for the holidays, we dispense with the boring pork loin part, and use just the sexy part - pork belly itself, which is really just a giant slab of uncured bacon. As far as the spices and aromatics, tradition says use rosemary, red pepper flakes and lemon zest, but I always use a different combination each time to keep it fresh. In this case, I used a medley of wintry herbs and then spiced it up with sichimi togarishi, a zippy medley of seven different Japanese herbs including chilies, ginger, black and white sesame seeds, seaweed, Sancho (a mouth-numbing berry like Szechuan peppercorns), and orange peel. I let the orange in the sichimi stand in for the traditional lemon zest. Salting the belly liberally on both sides, rubbing the outside with baking powder, and then letting it sit overnight is crucial to develop the juxtaposition of crispy skin and moist meat that we are going for.

Pork Belly Porchetta
by Steve
adapted from Serious Eats Food Lab

serves 6

1 whole boneless, rind-on pork belly, about 7 pounds
2 Tablespoons whole black peppercorns
3 Tablespoons whole fennel seed
1 Tablespoon sichimi togarishi
1 Tablespoon each finely chopped rosemary, sage, thyme and parsley leaves
15 cloves garlic, grated on a microplane grater
Kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder

Lay pork belly skin-side down on a large cutting board. Using a very sharp knife, deeply score the meat at an angle, using cuts about 1-inch apart. Rotate belly 90 degrees and repeat to make a diamond pattern.

1. Toast peppercorns and fennel seed in a small skillet over medium-high heat, until lightly browned and aromatic. Transfer to a spice grinder and process until coarsely crushed.

2. Sprinkle belly liberally with salt, then with crushed pepper and fennel, sichimi, chopped herbs, and microplaned garlic. Rub the mixture deeply into the cuts in the meat.

3. Roll belly into a tight log lengthwise and push to top of cutting board, seam-side down. Cut several lengths of kitchen twine long enough to tie around the pork at 1-inch intervals. Lay rolled pork seam-side down on top of strings. Tie up roast tightly. Mix kosher salt and baking powder. Rub mixture over entire surface of belly.

4. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat oven to 300°F. Place pork in a v-rack set in a large roasting pan. Roast until internal temperature of pork reaches 160°F, about four hours, basting with pan drippings every half hour after the second hour.

5. Increase oven temperature to 500°F and continue roasting until completely crisp and blistered, about 20 to 30 minutes longer.

6. Tent with foil and rest for 15 minutes. Slice with a serrated knife into 1-inch thick disks and serve.


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