Porchetta is as much a cooking technique as it is a particular recipe. This one uses a pork belly but can be done by butterflying a pork butt or tenderloin. The pork belly came from the butcher as a slab about 10 inches by 22, I cut this in half so I was working with a piece 10″ x 11″.The first step is to score it like so – it helps the herbs and spices gain penetration. I sprinkled kosher salt liberally on the slab and followed that with fresh grinds of pepper.Next came black peppercorns and fennel seeds that were toasted in a dry pan, ground in a spice mill, then added to a dozen or more garlic cloves in a little food processor. They were whirled about to mince the garlic and then spread on the meat, the fresh herbs were processed to a paste and spread along with the garlic mixture, followed by the zest of 2 lemons. I wish my patio herb garden had survived, I had to go to town for the herbs: rosemary, chives, sage. I also bought a fennel bulb for the fronds to add to the other herbs.Last thing, before it spent the night in the fridge, was to rub it with salt and baking powder in a ratio of 1 tbs salt to 1 tsp of baking powder. This is to help crisp the skin. Ta Da! This was cooked in a 300 degree oven for about 4 hours, then taken out to drain the fats off. While it’s out, crank the oven to 500 and return the pork roll to really blister the skin, it wants to be crispy! Watch it closely, it will brown really fast in that screaming hot oven.I mentioned that I bought a fennel bulb just for the fronds but I hate to waste a food item and so tried a braised fennel recipe. First, slice the bulb into about 1/2″ slices long ways, and brown both sides in a little oil. Add chicken stock and water to the pan, sprinkle on salt and pepper, cover, and simmer until tender – another 15-20 minutes.Serve the fennel with fresh parmesan and garnish with more of the fronds.
I went to the pantry and found a quart of last year’s tomato sauce for a pasta meat sauce. I made quite a bit, adding a big onion, several peppers from the patio garden, Italian sausage, lots of minced garlic, and plenty of fresh herbs. We had it on spaghetti for lunch, leaving plenty sauce for a supper dish. TaMara’s cast iron purchase made me do this in one of my skillets. This 10 incher is just big enough for 8 ounces of cooked rigatoni with sauce and some mozzarella we had leftover from yesterday’s pizza.I noticed that a couple of the recipes I looked at called for assembling the dish in individual sized casseroles but I don’t have anything suitable so I used the pan I had. I discovered why the mention of individual portions – you need a helper with scissors to cut the mozzarella strings when spooning the pasta into bowls!
More Thanksgiving leftovers
Well, sorta leftover from thanksgiving. I bought a package of Italian sausage with the thought in the back of my head that I would make sausage dressing out of it but I didn’t. So it was still in the fridge when I rummaged around today for something “not turkey”.
Meatballs! I mixed Parmesan and bread crumbs with an egg and the sausage, added half an onion and fresh parsley and oregano that survived the frost last night along with some thyme that didn’t. Browned golf ball sized meatballs in olive oil and then simmered them in tomato sauce. Made a most excellent sandwich.Added fresh mozzarella and a few of those roasted red peppers and chowed down. Delicious!
Mmm…sauteed tomato pizza sauce
Absolutely the last of the patio cherry tomatoes. Mrs J hauled the last container away today after harvesting what tomatoes that remained. We wanted to do something nice with the last batch. We had enjoyed the sauteed tomato and pasta dishes so much we decided to try the same process for a pizza sauce. We believe it worked.
Meatballs, sauteed tomatoes with fresh oregano, garlic, basil, and thyme all tossed with rigatoni and sprinkled with Parmesan. Meatballs were garlic pork sausage, fennel seeds, fresh basil, Parmesan, bread crumbs, and an egg. Saute the tomatoes and herbs in the same pan you cooked the meatballs in, add some pasta water and a tablespoon of tomato paste.
Iron rule of food blogging: If spaghetti is mentioned in a post, the next post must be about the spaghetti.
One of the loaves in the last post made excellent garlic bread, split down the middle and slathered with garlic butter, wrapped in foil, and reheated in the toaster oven. The salad is just some iceberg lettuce, a tomato, and a few onion slices with an olive oil, red wine vinegar, and parmesan vinaigrette. I ate too much. Burp…aaah.