When I think of Porchetta (pronounced “porketta”), I’m usually reminded of the time Homer and Lisa Simpson had a brief discussion of the pig and it’s wonderful, magical properties. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, familiarize yourself real quick.
In short: bacon, ham, and pork all come from the same animal. But it’s not often you see multiple pig products or cuts combined into one thing. That’s where porchetta comes in. Porchetta is skin-on pork belly wrapped around pork loin, roasted together to create one magical thing. The belly is nice and fatty, and the loin is fairly lean, but they combine to achieve a perfect balance of fat, meat, and flavor. Oh, and don’t forget the crispy skin; that’s my favorite part.
So we’re gonna be making some porchetta here, and I’m going to be stuffing it with a delicious apple mix, and making a mustard-cider sauce to go with it. Cause pork and apples and mustard are all good friends, in case you weren’t aware.
Ingredients (serves 4-6)
- 2 lb pork loin roast
- pork belly matched in width to wrap around the loin; your butcher should be able to help you with this. Mine came out to about 2.5 lbs, but the weight of yours will vary depending on thickness of the loin and thickness of the belly available to you
- brown sugar (or demerara)
- 4 c water
- 1/4 c salt
- 1/4 c brown sugar
- 2 T dijon mustard
- 8 sage leaves
- 6 sprigs thyme
- 6 sprigs oregano
- 2 granny smith apples
- 1/4 c honey
- 2 T dijon mustard
- 3 leaves sage, minced/ground
- 3 thyme sprigs, stripped & minced/ground
- 3 oregano sprigs, stripped & minced/ground
- 2 T fennel seeds
- 2 T pink peppercorns (can substitute black pepper, but use only 1 t if you do)
- 2 t salt
- 4 T butter
- 12 oz dry hard cider
- 2 c broth (any kind you like; not to brag, but I used homemade bone broth and it was a good choice)
- 1/4 c apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 c dijon mustard
- 6 sage leaves
- 4 sprigs thyme
- 4 sprigs oregano
- 1 shallot, roughly chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 1 T corn starch whisked into 1/4 c water
- 1/4 c pan drippings
- Talk to your butcher to make sure you get a piece of belly that matches the loin
- Combine all your brine ingredients (water, salt, sugar, mustard, sage, thyme, oregano) and bring to a boil, then remove from heat.
- Let brine cool to room temperature
- At this point you can put the brine in the fridge until your ready to use it, or put the loin into the brine. You want to brine the loin for 8-12 hours in the fridge. You don’t need to brine the belly because it’s fatty and delicious all on its own.
- Pull the belly and loin out of the fridge 2 hours before you’re going to start cooking it.
- Rinse the loin well, dry and wrap in paper towels. Set aside (out of the fridge).
- Lay out the belly, and score the skin in a diamond grid. You can also have your butcher do this, but if you do that you run the risk of having them cut too deep like mine did. You really want the scoring to go just past the skin into the fat, but you don’t want to cut into the meat.
- Ok, here’s the novel part: to get extra crispy skin, you want the skin to be fairly dry before cooking. So, bust out a hairdryer, point it at your belly, and give it about 10-12 minutes of solid hairdryer attention, making sure to hit all parts roughly evenly.
- Cover the belly with paper towels and set aside with the loin.
- Heat a small skillet on medium-high heat.
- Add the fennel seeds and the pink peppercorns to the skillet and toast, stirring often, for about 2-3 minutes.
- Grind the fennel seeds and peppercorns.
- Dice the apples.
- Mix all stuffing ingredients together (apples, fennel seeds, peppercorns, salt, honey, mustard, sage, thyme, oregano).
- Preheat your oven to 500 F.
- Season the loin and the interior (non-skin side) of the belly with even parts salt and sugar.
- Season the skin of the belly with salt only. If you add sugar to the skin, it’ll come out slightly blackened. I did this, and while the flavor was really good, I had to pop the skin off at like 90% crispness while the rest of the porchetta finished so that the skin wouldn’t burn (it was still delicious and crispy, but the extra effort was avoidable).
- Lay the belly out skin-side down.
- Spread the apple mix in an even layer on the belly.
- Set your loin in the middle of the belly.
- Cut off a few strings of kitchen twine.
- Roll the edges of the belly up, and use the twine to tie it off every couple of inches.
- Flip it over so the belly is on top.
- Put the roast into a roasting pan with a rack.
- Roast at 500 F for 40 minutes.
- After 40 minutes, take the roast out, turn the oven down to 300 F, wait 5-10 minutes for oven to cool, and then put roast back in for about 2 hours. You can start checking internal temp at the 90 minute mark if you want (aiming for ~140 F internal temp). If the roast is coming up on being done (~130 F internal) and the skin doesn’t look nice and crispy yet, kick the oven back up to 500 F to get that skin crisped up.
- While the roast is in the oven during this last stage is the perfect time to start your sauce.
- Get a large heavy-bottomed sauce pan going on medium high heat.
- Once hot add the butter, garlic, shallots, sage, thyme, and oregano.
- Stir the saucepan regularly, and once the garlic and shallots start to brown, add the cider, mustard, vinegar, and broth.
- Kick the heat up to high and bring to a boil.
- Reduce to a hard simmer (med-high heat; you basically want it to be almost boiling but you don’t want it to burn), add the cornstarch-water mix, and let reduce for about 30 minutes, then cover and turn heat off.
- Once the pork is done, pull it out of the oven and move it to a cutting board and let rest for 25-30 minutes.
- Scoop up 1/4 c of the juices from the pan and add to your sauce. Turn the heat back up to medium and whisk the pan juices into the sauce.
- Add salt and pepper until your sauce tastes exactly how you want it, then turn to low until you’re ready to slice your roast.
- Cut the roast into 1/2 inch pieces, making sure not to serve anybody the twine you wrapped it up with.
- Strain the sauce.
- Serve the porchetta with the sauce, and probably a salad or something else that you’ll basically forget after trying this wonderful, magical creation.
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