Italian Summer Porchetta

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The first time I’ve tried roasted porchetta was in late 2014/early 2015 at a restaurant called ‘Local 121’ in Providence, Rhode Island. I was in school at the time at Johnson & Wales University and my then boyfriend drove up from Virginia Beach for the weekend. We went out for dinner and I didn’t know what a porchetta was at the time and looked up what it was on Google; pork belly, roasted, tender, thick- all of the enticing words that made my decision to order it. Once the dish came out it looked braised instead of roasted, meat was very tough, and the seasoning was nonexistent. I won’t say it was bad, but it wasn’t very good either.

As time went on, I’ve tried other kinds of porchetta and continued making my way through all different kinds of pork belly dishes. Out of nowhere, yesterday I had a sudden urge to buy a thick slab of pork belly and roast it lechon style; and so I ventured out to every single butcher around my area to find slabs of pork belly with the skin on. Let’s just say it was a lot harder to find…I ended up having to buy a sheet of pork skin and skinless pork belly separately to make this work, but it turned out looking amazing!!

I wanted a light an refreshing stuffing/seasoning for the inside of the pork belly since this is being made in the middle of July, so I incorporated some sundried tomatoes, lemon juice and zest, and fresh herbs. I hope you all enjoy making this recipe as much as I did because I literally was so amazed at how well it turned out!

.25 oz sun-dried tomatoes, small dice 2 sprigs rosemary, chopped 10 sprigs thyme, chopped 1 tbsp red pepper flakes 2/3 cup EVOO zest of one lemon juice of 1/2 lemon 5 cloves garlic, mashed 1 1/2 tsp salt + more 1/2 tsp black pepper 7 1/2 lbs pork belly (I recommend buying a pork belly at this weight and thickness at a butcher shop or a wholesale store) 1 lb pork skin (if the pork belly has already been skinned off, go to your local butcher and ask if they sell sheets of pork skin separately) butchers twine
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees (f). Combine the following ingredients together to make the seasoning for the inner side of the pork belly: sun-dried tomatoes, rosemary, thyme, red pepper flakes, EVOO, lemon zest/juice, garlic, salt, and pepper; set it aside. seasoning/stuffing for the pork belly
Next, you’re going to pat dry both your pork belly and pork skin to create a dry surface area. Generously rub salt on the outer side of the belly. Once dry, lay the pork skin outside skin faced down (towards the table) and place the pork belly in the center with the rib side of the belly facing up towards you. Take your seasoning/stuffing and rub it generously onto the pork. Slowly and tightly roll the skin and pork belly up into a log; with your butcher twine, truss individual rings around the pork belly to keep it tight so that it’ll cook evenly in the oven. This type of trussing is a bit more complicated than what I recommend, but I’ve always trussed my roasts like this so it’s out of habit.
After trussing the porchetta, place it on a rack with a pan below to catch the rendered fat drippings and roast it in the oven for about 3-3 1/2 hours until the internal temperature reaches to 165 degrees (f) (with other roasts I would recommend cooking it a temperature 10 degrees (f) less than desired internal temperature. Why? Because when you rest a roast, it’ll continue to cook from the inside out and go up by 10 degrees. However, pork belly has more fat content and so bringing it up to 165 degree (f) won’t dry out the meat!) To help make the pork skin extra crunchy, brush some of the rendered fat onto the skin to ‘fry/cook’ it while it’s still in the oven. Once the internal temperature reaches to 165 degrees (f), let it rest for about 10-20 minutes before cutting into it. Serve on a bed of mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables and enjoy!