Bite Club: How to Make Pork Belly Porchetta
When in doubt, add pork belly.
More than anything, porchetta is an opportunity to turn a pig into your own personal canvas. There are no rules here, just uninhibited, free-flowing, artistic expression. And also a bunch of saturated fat. There’s that too.
The general idea is to take whatever pork parts you want, season them with whatever type of flavor paste you want, then, to ensure optimal deliciousness, wrap that whole thing in pork belly before roasting until the skin crispity-crunchity. Think of the pork belly as a safety net—no matter how badly you fuck up on something, it can always be saved by a hefty blanketing of pork fat. (That includes emotional fuck ups, too. Totally obliterated someone’s sense of trust? Gift them a pint of leaf lard. It solves everything.)
Since I have very little confidence in myself, I made the entire porchetta out of that striated porcine emotional crutch. Also, pork loin is super overrated and I try to avoid it. Make this all-belly, all-the-time porchetta.
Here’s What You’ll Need:
- Slab of skin-on pork belly
- Cooking twine
- A bunch of herbs and spices and stuff (including but not limited to: basil, garlic, shallot, mint, black peppercorn, ginger)
Like every good thing in life, this recipe starts with an 8 pound slab of skin on pork belly. You’re not going to find this at your local chain grocery store—because thanks, capitalism—so you need to go make friends with a local butcher, and see if they’ll give you the hookup on a giant uncut slab of fatty pig.
Take that big-ass belly, lay it out on a cutting board flesh side up, and slice ¼-inch hash marks through the flesh, then sprinkle liberally with salt. This is going to help your tasty flavor paste soak into the meat. Hey! Speaking of a flavor paste, you should probably start making that.
A traditional Italian porchetta typically uses things like fennel seed, parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme. And that’s cool and all, but, seeing as you’re already fucking around with a giant slab of a creature that was once alive and such, you might as well make it even weirder. I minced up a bunch of shallot, lemongrass, garlic, mint, basil, black peppercorn, and coriander, and rubbed that paste all throughout the scored flesh marks. There’s really no wrong move here. Follow your heart.
After massaging your meat slab, you get to roll it up into a weird phallic euphemism for your desire to consume flesh. Gross, right? I know—start rolling. Once your meat log is very dick-shaped, wrap it as tight as you can in plastic wrap, then refrigerate it for at least 2 or 3 hours. You can accelerate the process by putting it in the freezer for an hour.
Take that bad boy out of the cold, unwrap it from its sheath, and tie it up. You’ve read the Fifty Shades trilogy, you know what to do (and I’m not talking about ultimately reaffirming sexual normativity). Lay out five or six 18-inch pieces of cooking twine on the cutting board, separated by a two-inch gap. Place the pork roll-up over the strings, then tie it up as tightly as possible.
Throw it on a baking rack and let it run in a 250 degree oven for at least 5 hours. This seems excessive, but let me explain. A typical Italian porchetta is made with different, less fatty cuts of pork, right? It can be shoulder, loin, whatever. With the leaner pig parts, you have to worry about overcooking. It isn’t the same with fatty-ass belly. The more you cook it, the more the skin is going to dry out and get crunchy, the more the fat is going to render and become edible, and the more tender the meat is going to become.
Whenever you lose patience — hopefully you hit the 5-hour mark but we understand if you don’t — crank the heat up to 450 degrees to crisp up the skin. After about 20-25 minutes, take the porchetta out of the oven and let it rest before slicing for at least 15 minutes. Or just fist that fatty motherfucker and eat it like a burrito. Ball’s in your court.
Still hungry? Check out the other installments of Bite Club here.