Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Porchetta or Porketta?

If I was going to make this dish for dinner I needed some answers - it was time to do my homework.
Porchetta a.k.a. Porketta -is an Italian style pork roast, 
traditionally cooked as a whole pig (in Italy). 
For all practical reasons, that won’t be happening in my kitchen.

I scanned through what seemed like hundreds of recipes and I wasn't getting the answers that I needed.  Everyone and their “nonna” has a different version - there were no clear patterns or hard rules as to what might be the proper way to make this dish.  I felt like I was lost in the woods.  Some used fresh herbs, some used dried.  Some used the crock pot, some used the oven. Some added wine, some did not.  It was all over the board.   

Fortunately, there were two things that I found consistent in almost every recipe - use lots of garlic and a fatty cut of pork, such as a butt or shoulder that had a nice layer of fat on top.

That was a start...

My mission was to make a flavorful pork roast, using an inexpensive cut that could come together with pantry ingredients.

I love to use fresh herbs when I know that I’m going to use them up, but I hate wasting.  So I decided to go the dried herb route.  The most common herbs used were sage, rosemary and thyme.

I read the ingredients list on my jar of Italian seasoning and said to myself; this has everything I need and a little bit more. I was set in the herb department.  Now I had to decide what else was going to go into the rub.  I chose paprika for color, red and black pepper for a more balanced heat (see my pepper post), garlic and olive oil.  That’s it, just a handful of ingredients.

I was on my way to making my version of Porchetta/Porketta.

For those of you who have had the pleasure of indulging in an authentic version.  I will recant my naming of this dish and simply call it “Garlic and Herb Roasted Pork”.  No matter how you slice it - or name it – it's delicious.

My husband asked me at dinner, a bit bewildered – because he has never had this dish either; “When did you eat a porketta”?  I smiled and said; I never have, but if I were to imagine what it tasted like – it would taste just like this, isn't it delicious?

Note: I marinated the roast for 3 ½ hours (because that’s all the time I had) but next time I would let it marinate overnight.

Porchetta (Italian Style Pork Roast)
3 pound pork shoulder, with a layer of fat
1 ½      tsp.      Italian Seasoning
1          tsp.      Paprika
1          tsp.      Kosher Salt
½         tsp.      Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
½         tsp.      Black Pepper
3          cloves  Garlic, minced
2          Tbls.    Olive oil

Place seasoning in a small bowl
Mash together with the back of a spoon to make a paste.
Rub the seasonings all over the entire roast and reshape roast with the skin side up.
Tie together with kitchen twine. To measure the twine, I stretch my arms out with the twine in each hand twice - that is usually enough for a roast this size.  You could also tie the roast up in sections with short strings and not do the looping method.
Wrap string around one end of the roast and tie a tight knot. leaving one end long.
Extend the long end of the string and wrap it under and around the roast.
 Thread twine under the loop and pull tight.  repeat until you get to the other end.
When you get to the end, place the twine under the roast lengthwise to the other end and tie it to the short piece of twine securely.
Wrap and place in the fridge overnight.
Place on a roasting rack that has been sprayed with pan coasting (for easy clean up)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Put roast in the oven and drop temperature to 325 degrees and roast for 2 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 155 degrees.  Let stand loosely tented with foil for 10 - 15 min. before slicing.
***For a leaner version, you could make this with a pork loin instead - and if you do, shorten the cooking time to an hour and a half or until the internal temp. is at 150 degrees.

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