Roman porchetta: the original recipe

Traditionally, porchetta is a nose to the tail affair, in which a whole pig is deboned and roasted on a spit. This was probably not the most practical option for those hoping for a taste of Rome closer to home.

Ingredients

  • A rectangular piece of boneless pork belly and a piece of pork loin of roughly the right size to be rolled up inside, skin left on (how much each piece weighs depends on the shape, but aim for a total weight of about 3.5-4kg)
  • 50g garlic, crushed (about 10 cloves)
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds, toasted
  • 1 tsp dried chili flakes, toasted
  • 30g sea salt flakes
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary or thyme leaves
  • 1 tbsp lard or olive oil, at room temperature
  • 200ml white wine (optional)
  • Rolls, to serve

Preparation

Combine the seasoning ingredients into a smooth paste. Place the pork belly on a clean, flat surface, score the flesh, then rub the paste into the meat with your hands. Sit the loin long-side parallel to the shorter side of the belly, and then roll up tightly.

Tie up tightly with butcher’s string at about 5cm intervals, and leave to sit, uncovered in the fridge, for at least 8 hours. Bring back to room temperature before cooking.

Heat the oven to 160°C. Pat the meat as dry as possible with kitchen paper and put on a rack in a roasting tray. Roast for 4 hours, then turn the oven up as high as it will go and roast for another 30 minutes, or until the crackling is golden brown (keep an eye on it).

Remove from the oven and allow to rest, uncovered for 30 minutes. If you’re making gravy, remove the meat and rack from the tray and skim off the fat. Return the rest of the juices to the pan along with the wine and put on medium heat. Stir well and season to taste.

Carve the pork into slices. Stuff into rolls and drizzle with gravy, if using.