Porchetta is a savoury, fatty, and moist boneless pork roast of Italian culinary tradition. Traditionally, porchetta is made by deboning a little milk-fed piglet . It is then salted and rubbed with a garlic, herb, and spice mixture that features plenty of garlic, rosemary, fennel seeds and other herbs. It is then rolled up and slowly roasted whole over a wood fire. The end result is a cylindrical roast with crispy skin on the outside and the fatty belly surrounds the lean moist loin meat inside.
"I recently cooked what is undoubtedly the mind-blowingest of all the mind-blowing meat dishes that have come out of kitchen..."
How could I resist trying out his recipe with such "mind-blowing" description? Excited, I went to the butcher the next day and requested for a good piece of pork belly.
The end-to-end preparation and cooking time will take about 3 days (or more, depending on how long you marinate the belly) and out of which, 36 hours goes to the sous-viding.
I started the preparation last week and kept the sous-vided prochetta in the freezer until this Sunday when I served this for our dinner. The taste and texture was amazing and exactly what Kenji had described.
However, in my humble opinion, this end result does not really justify the long cooking time of 3 days. The roast pork belly recipe that I use frequently can produce similar result using a shorter time and I end up with a less greasy kitchen. But it was good cooking and snapping fun and experience for me and the sliced belly can certainly impress your guests on special occasions.
Here is the original recipe (I made some changes depending on what was available in the kitchen, modification in BLUE)
1 whole boneless, rind-on pork belly, about
12 to 15 pounds 2.5 kg
Place pork belly skin-side down on a large cutting board. Using a sharp chef's knife, score flesh at an angle using strokes about 1-inch apart. Rotate knife 90 degrees and repeat to create a diamond pattern in the flesh.
and fennel seed in a small skillet over medium-high heat until lightly browned and aromatic, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and grind until roughly crushed.
Season pork liberally with salt then sprinkle with crushed pepper and
fennel coriander, red pepper, chopped herbs, and microplaned garlic. Use your hands to rub the mixture deeply into the cracks and crevices in the meat.
Roll belly into a tight log and push to top of cutting board, seam-side down. Cut 12 to 18 lengths of kitchen twine long enough to tie around the pork and lay them down in regular intervals along your cutting board, about 1-inch apart each. Lay rolled pork seam-side down on top of strings. Working from the outermost strings towards the center, tie up roast tightly. Combine 2 tablespoons kosher salt with 1 teaspoon baking powder. Rub mixture over entire surface of porchetta.
If roast is too large and unwieldy, carefully slice in half with a sharp chef's knife. Seal in individual vacuum-sealed pouches and refrigerate at least overnight and up to three days. If desired, porchetta can also be frozen at this point for future use.
Preheat sous-vide water cooker to 155°F (68.3°C). Add pork and cook for 36 hours. Transfer pork to a sink filled with ice water and chill for 15 minutes. Remove from bag then carefully peel off congealed exuded cooking liquid and place in a medium saucepan.
Rince porchetta under hot running water until all excess fat and congealed juices are cleared from surface, then carefully dry with paper towels.
Heat oil over high heat in a large wok or Dutch oven to 400°F. Carefully slide pork into oil using spatulas and tongs. (It will not be fully submerged). Immediately cover and cook, shaking the pan occasionally until sputtering dies a bit, about 2 minutes. Adjust flame to maintain consistent 350°F temperature. Using a large metal ladle, spoon hot oil over the exposed portions of the roast continuously until the bottom half is cooked and crisp, about 5 minutes. Carefully flip and cook on second side, basting the whole time.
Remove porchetta to a large paper towel-lined plate and blot all over. Season with salt. Let rest 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat bag juices over medium-high heat until simmering. Add the butter and swirl until smooth. If center of pork is still hot, carve and serve immediately. Otherwise, transfer to a 250°F oven until warmed through, then serve.
I paired the Pork Belly Porchetta with Thompson Estate Andrea Reserve Cabernet Merlot blend from Margaret River. The fruity and about full-bodied blend counters and balances the slippery sensation that goes with fatty belly.
We had a good Sunday dinner.