Cooked until the skin turns golden and crispy, this recipe for pork belly porchetta remains lusciously tender on the inside.
Presumably, if you are on this website, you are already aware of the magnificence of bacon. You may also be familiar with the extreme degree of deliciousness that comes with pork rinds. What remains confusing to me, is why we don’t see the two combined on a more frequent basis in this country.
Bacon (here’s a handy guide on how to make your own) is simply cured pork belly. Though the rind or skin does not fare well during the curing process, and is most often removed. In fact, nearly all pork belly at American grocery stores comes skin-off. And I’m on a mission to change that!
Treated right with appropriate preparation and heat application, pork skin puffs up into a magical crusty bark of salt, porky goodness. And so I urge you to find yourselves a piece of pork belly with the skin intact. You can do this by asking your friendly local butcher or meat market, or try a local Asian market and their meat counter.
Traditional Italian porchetta consists of the belly, which is then wrapped around a section of pork loin. Strong aromatics like garlic, orange zest and fresh herbs are smeared between the layers. Most often, the secret ingredient is fennel pollen, though this can be hard to track down and is easily substituted with regular ground toasted fennel seeds.
Place the peppercorns and fennels seeds in a dry frying pan, and toast over medium heat until fragrant. Pour into a spice grinder and blend until smooth.
Place the pork belly onto a large board, skin side up. Use a very sharp knife to score the skin. You can either run lines straight up and down, or in a diamond grid pattern – either way, it achieves the same result, with different looks.
Flip the belly over so it’s meat side up. Season liberally with salt, then smear the minced garlic across the surface of the meat. Season with pepper, fennel and orange zest, then sprinkle the herbs across the meat.
Pull the sides of the belly together to form a roll. Secure with butchers twine every inch or so until your roll is fully formed.
Place a rack over a tray, then place the belly roll seam side down the rack. Leave uncovered and place in fridge overnight or at least 10 hours to dry out the skin.
Heat an oven to 325f.
Place the pork belly roll on a rack set inside a pan. It’s recommended to put foil at the bottom of the pan for easy cleanup.
If you are at the correct internal temperature but the skin isn’t quite crisp enough, broil the skin for 6-8 minutes until it puffs up, watching carefully to ensure it doesn’t burn.
Rest the pork belly for at least 15 minutes prior to serving, then carve into individual portions.