I’m a fool for pork. There I said it. If we’re out for dinner and there’s a choice between a pork and a beef entree, I always go for the pork. Right now I have a rack of pork in the freezer, destined for the next dinner party. Want to come over? I need an excuse to make it. In the meantime I decided to try a recipe for porchetta that I had cut out of the June issue of La Cucina Italiana.
If you’ve been to Italy you’ve probably seen the porchetta trucks at fairs or street markets. I remember my very first porchetta panino. It was late morning and I was braving the crowds by myself at the Saturday morning mercato all’aperto in Arezzo. I walked past the truck, gazing fondly at the big piece of pork being sliced at the counter. It was too crowded for me to muscle my way up to the front so I kept walking. If you ever been in Italy I’m sure you’ve noticed that there is no such thing as lining up orderly to await your turn! I continued on my way, happy to be checking out the gorgeous produce, but with thoughts of that porchetta in my head. Luck would have it that on my return past the truck the crowd had dispersed. I got up my nerve and went right up and in my best Italian, I ordered a panino.
I’ve had numerous porchetta panini since that day, but nothing quite like it here at home. The recipe I tried comes from Sara Jenkins who has a restaurant in NYC, appropriately called Porchetta. I just realized that I have her cookbook Olives & Oranges and this recipe is probably in there too.
Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder
20 fresh sage leaves
3 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves only
3 fresh rosemary, leaves only
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons wild fennel pollen *see note
1-1/2 teaspoons medium-coarse sea salt
1-1/2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
1 (3-3/4 to 4 pund) boneless pork shoulder with skin
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
Pre-heat the oven to 250 degrees. Finely chop the sage, thyme, rosemary and garlic together (I used a Cuisinart mini-prep for this). Place mixture in a small bowl and add fennel pollen, salt and pepper and stir well.
With a sharp knife, score the pork skin in a crosshatch diamond pattern. With a paring knife, make about 10 incisions, about 1/2″ deep, all over the pork and stuff with the about 1/3 of the herb mixture. Tie pork into a compact roast with kitchen twine, brush oil all over the skin and rub all over with the remaining herb mixture.
Set pork up in a roasting pan and roast for 2 hours. Pour wine over pork and baste with wine and accumulated juices. Continue roasting, basting once every half hour, until skin is well browned and the meat is spoon tender, 2-1/2-3 hours more.
Remove from oven and let sit 15 minutes before slicing. Serve on crusty rolls and have a moment where you envision yourself strolling through some charming Italian town!
* Fennel pollen is pricey-you can substitute ground fennel seeds. I am happy to say that I used my very small stash of fennel pollen that I harvested from the wild fennel down the street.