If you ask people what porchetta is maybe 1 or 2 out of 10 will know. The rest will say “por… what?” Well, if you never tried it your in for one heck of a surprise. It is some of the best pork you ever had.
The nucleus for the porchetta is pork belly. Yep, the same stuff they make bacon from and the meat they shave off spare ribs. The basic process is to roll the pork belly around a pork loin or tenderloin, season and go to the grill or smoker. What makes this dish so tasty is as the fat renders it keeps the loin moist and the skin will crackle like potato chips. Absolutely outrages!
My first experience with porchetta was in New York City’s Village. It just happen that the restaurant’s name was Porchetta. While I was “wolfing” down this delicious sandwich I had the treat to meet the owner. With a lot of praise and expounding my accolades she was willing to give me some insight. She cooks it on a rotisserie, moderate heat until it reaches around 160 degrees and then finishes off at high heat (500 to 600) to crackle the skin. But that wasn’t the whole story. There was a seasoning that I could not identify. What the heck, I asked. It was fennel pollen. I never heard of it. Fennel yes, this stuff no. Where can I buy it? Well I found it online at some place in California. Holy mackerel, I could have bought gold cheaper! I bought anyway. I eventually found it locally at Savory Spice at a much better price. So with a little bit of knowledge, which is dangerous, I set out to make this thing. My first try in a smoker, terrible. Fed it to my dog Angus. Second try on a gas grill, not bad, edible but not ready for “prime time”. Third try on a spit over an open fire. Actually pretty good but I seasoned the skin with a sugar based seasoning, it turned black and no crackle.
So I believe on my next try I’m going to nail it by salting the skin for a few days to remove moisture, don’t season the skin, cook it on a spit and ramp up the heat at the end to get crackling. When I nail it, then we will notify you to come up and try it out.