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Porchetta / Hot Pork Roll

Introduction & method

Slow-roasted pork belly must be one of the most delicious things ever, and also pretty cheap. Historically, porchetta was a whole boned and rolled suckling pig spit-roasted over a fire. This one is a bit more manageable - pork belly with plenty of herbs, rolled and slow-roasted. Then served in a bun with crackling, stuffing and gravy. Dirty, drippy and decadent.

Porchetta / Hot Pork Roll Recipe

Prep the Meat

It's possible that your pork belly will have been deboned and the skin scored by your butcher. If not, you'll need to do it yourself. The best way to score the skin is to use the tip of a craft knife or Stanley knife - make parallel cuts in the skin about a centimetre (half an inch) apart. Now you need to butterfly the belly - lay it on a chopping board, skin side down, and carefully slice it in two horizontally, but stop just before the end so the flap is still attached to the rest of it. Now strip the thyme and rosemary leaves from their stalks, coarsely chop the sage leaves and peel the garlic cloves. Bash them all together with a little oil in a mortar and pestle or a mini food processor. If you end up with a smooth paste, that's great, but a less smooth concoction is also good. Spread the herb mixture all over the belly, and grate the zest of a lemon onto it. Sprinkle with sea salt.

Place the pork fillet near the open end of the flap. Tightly roll the belly around the fillet. and keep going until you reach the other end of the belly. Place the roll fat side up and tie it tightly with a piece of string in the centre. Tie each end, then make additional ties every 2 centimtres (¾"). Generously rub sea salt all over the skin, working it into the slits.

At this point you could wrap it in film and leave it in the fridge for a day or two, or carry on to the next stage.

Roast the Meat

We cook this low and slow and then turn up the heat at the end to crackle the skin. Preheat your oven to 150°C (302°F) for a fan oven, 170°C (338°F) for a conventional one, gas 3. Grab a roasting dish that's big enough to hold your rolled pork. Coarsely slice the onion, carrot and celery and spread them in a single layer in the bottom of the roasting pan. Place the meat on top and put it in the oven for 3½ hours. You might need to turn it round a few times to make sure it cooks evenly. Now turn the temperature up to 210°C (410°F) for a fan oven, 230°C (446°F) for a conventional one, gas 8, and cook for a further 30 minutes. The skin should have bubbled up nicely into crackling, but if it hasn't you can blast it with a heat gun or blowtorch. Place the meat onto a warmed platter, tent it in foil and leave to rest for 20 minutes.

Make the Stuffing

While the meat is roasting, make the stuffing. Peel and finely chop the onion. Heat a knob of butter and the same amount of oil in a frying pan on low heat. Add the onion, and cook gently for about 5 minutes. You want it softened but not coloured. Tip it into a bowl and allow it to cool completely. Stir the salt and sage into the breadcrumbs, then stir in the onion. Add just enough boiling water (probably about half the volume of breadcrumbs) to make a thick paste. Stir in a knob of butter, making sure it's melted. One hour from the end of the meat cooking time, divide the stuffing mixture into the indentations of a muffin tin (grease it if it's metal). Put it in the oven on the shelf under the meat. Check near the end of cooking - if the tops of the stuffing are drying out and turning crispy, remove them from the oven.

Make Gravy

Bash the veggies in the roasting pan to extract as much juice as posible. Strain through a fine sieve. Melt a knob of butter in a saucepan on low heat and stir in the same amount of flour. Mix them together and let them cook for a few minutes - a little bit of browning is ok. Now add the pan liquid, the wine and the stock. Stir well, bring to the boil, and keep it simmering until you're ready for it.

Assemble the Sandwiches

Slice your buns horizontally and butter them generously. Place a slice of meat on the bottom piece of bread with the attached crackling facing forward. Adorn the top with some stuffing and a dribble of gravy. Eat.

The video above is from the Keef Cooks YouTube channel. Click here to see the video recipe of Porchetta / Hot Pork Roll on YouTube.


Ingredients & Info

 1.2 kilos pork belly
 500 grams pork fillet
 small handful fresh rosemary
 small handful fresh thyme
 small handful fresh sage
 1 bulb garlic
 zest of 1 lemon
 lots of sea salt
 150 grams coarse breadcrumbs
 1 small onion
 2 tsp butter
 2 tsp sunflower oil
 2 tsp dried sage
 ½ tsp salt
 ½ cup boiling water
  roasting pan juices
 ½ cup red wine
 ½ cup beef stock
 25 grams butter
 25 grams flour

US Customary/Imperial

Serves 6 -8 people
Prep time: 15 minutes.
Resting time: 15 minutes.
Cooking time: 4 hours.
Total time: 4 hours 30 minutes.