Makes 6 to 8 servings
Traditional porchetta can be made several different ways. This simplified preparation calls for a boneless pork loin cut into quarters, surrounded by Italian sausage with sautéed onions and fennel added, and wrapped in a butterflied pork belly. The whole thing is then tied and slowly roasted. The trick to a moist roast is to be sure to allow it rest for 30 minutes before carving so that the juices have time to redistribute.
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 fennel bulb, trimmed and diced, fronds reserved
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 1 lb Italian sausage, casings removed
- 1/2 cup chopped fennel fronds
- 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- One 12-inch-square piece pork belly
- Salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 lb boneless pork loin, cut in half lengthwise, each half cut into quarters
- Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat, add the fennel and onion, and cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, transfer to a bowl, and allow to cool. When the fennel and onion are cool, stir in the sausage, fennel fronds, parsley, lemon zest, and bread crumbs and combine well.
- Season the pork belly liberally with salt and pepper. Place a piece of cheesecloth on a clean work surface and lay the pork belly out flat on top of it. Spoon the sausage mixture on top of the pork belly and spread into a thin, even layer.
- Arrange the pork loin quarters on top of the sausage layer and, with the help of the cheesecloth, roll the edges of the pork belly up. Continue rolling until the sausage mixture and pork loins are enclosed in the pork belly and the roast is completely wrapped in cheesecloth.
- Twist the ends of the cheesecloth so that the whole roast is in the shape of a tube, then secure the ends of the cheesecloth with kitchen twine. Tie kitchen twine around the roast every inch or so to help it hold its tubular shape. Place the roast in a roasting pan fitted with a rack and refrigerate overnight.
- The following day, preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Place the roasting pan with the porchetta in the oven for 15 minutes to sear the outside. Reduce the oven temperature to 250°F and continue to roast until the internal temperature registers 140°F, about 2 hours. Allow the porchetta to rest for at least 30 minutes before slicing. This resting period will account for any carryover cooking and allow the juices in the meat to evenly distribute.