Girl and boy salivate in awe at certain food preparation on TV. Trips are planned with the hope to find this mythical creation. Oceans are crossed, stick-shift cars rented.
“Look! There is its!”
“Didn’t we just have lunch?”
“Oh… maybe later.”
Another day goes by. They can’t seem to work their way through the maze of cobblestoned streets and find that stand again. They load up the car and make their way to another village in the hilly Toscana.
“Let me take a picture!”
No porchettas (or porchetta sandwiches, for all that matters) were tasted during our 2010 Eurotrip. Feel free to clobber us as you see fit in the comments.
And what IS porchetta? Picture this: a pig is deboned and carefully arranged into a log that perfectly showcases the meat, fat, crisped skin and any aromatics used for stuffing it. The traditional seasoning for Italian porchetta includes rosemary, sage, garlic, red pepper flakes, and fennel seeds. Citrus slices are layered for sweetness and acidity.
Girl makes mock porchetta at home almost four years later.
A popular way to make porchetta is to wrap a piece of center cut pork loin with a slab of pork belly. The porchetta project began with probably the toughest task: finding pork belly in Puerto Rico. This is nearly impossible at retail, so it helps to have a restaurant supplier on your contact list. Even if you are not a professional, many wholesalers will sell or make arrangements to sell smaller amounts of any specialty meats or products, or have retail outposts. It never hurts to ask. Buying a 12-pound slab of pork belly may seem like a lot, but there are many ways to use it and it keeps well in the freezer. I want to braise some Korean style and cure my own bacon with the leftovers.
Back to the porchetta… To get the crisp skin to rival any lechón worth its name, the pork belly is scored on the meat side. Piercing the skin with a paring knife, letting it ‘dry’ in the refrigerator overnight and baking the roast for the first 40 minutes at 500˚F are also key to achieve that coveted cuerito.