I had given this recipe a go a few times until me and Tom got it spot on last November for bonfire night. The crispy skin along with the juicy, salty meat makes it a great dish on its own or as part of a killer sandwich.
You can be as rustic or fancy as you want with the preparation of this. I used a trussing needle to sew the skin together but I'll admit this was pretty hard going! You'd get just as good a finish by doing a butchers knot all the way along the joint.
Both options require a bit of practice to get right.
- 3kg pork belly with the loin
- 5 sprigs fresh thyme
- 5 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 1 bulb garlic
- 2 tbsp dried fennel seeds
- 2 tbsp chilli flakes
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- Maldon salt to taste
- Coarse pepper to taste
- Take the pork belly and lay skin side up, score into the skin but be careful not to go too far into the meat
- Boil a kettle and scorch the skin with the boiling water. Pat it dry with kitchen roll (this will help make the crackling even crispier when it's roasting)
- Turn the belly over so it's skin side down
- Cut into the loin part of the meat to butterfly it open. Once you've done this you should have an even larger sheet of meat to roll your ingredients into
- Mix all of the remaining ingredients together in a pestle and mortar
- Rub the mix into the meat so it's evenly covered
- Roll the meat starting with the loin side first. You may need to trim some of the skin off the inner edge when you're rolling as you don't want skin to be anywhere other than on the outside of the roll (otherwise you'll end up with uncooked skin which is undesirable)
- Once rolled, secure the meat in place with butchers twine either using a butchers knot (every 2cm along the joint) or sewn together with a trussing needle.
- Heat an oven to the highest it will go, and cook the joint for 30-45 minutes to get the crackling, then drop to 160°C for 4 hours
- Once cooked, remove and rest for 15 minutes before cutting into slices and serving
Serve in a freshly grilled ciabatta rubbed with olive oil and salt. Fill with gravy. It's one of the best sandwiches you'll ever eat.
There's a great video of a place called Vito’s Norcineria just south of Rome in a place called Marino. There are quite a few videos of the things Vito makes there like Salami, Prosciutto etc, but the Porchetta recipe is by far the best.