The other half of that pork belly I bought back from Behrmann’s. I bought an additional small tenderloin to wrap up inside. I butterflied it and pounded it flat and gave it a smear of the same rub as I used the last time: Rosemary, sage, thyme, garlic, fennel fronds, toasted black peppercorns and fennel seeds all processed into a paste with a little olive oil.I did the rub on the meat side and a salt/baking soda rub on the skin side and left it to dry in the fridge, skin side up, for 2 days. I set it out on the counter at room temp for a couple of hours this morning, then rolled it up and tied it. It spent 4 hours in a 300 oven on a rack. I pulled it and drained the fat from the pan, cranked the temp on the oven to 500, and gave it another 30 minutes or so, checking every 10. It’s a wonder it didn’t set off the smoke alarm.
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.