This porchetta brings every meat lover into ecstasy
The porchetta is a wood-fire-grilled classic Italian pork recipe that equals pure backyard BBQ bliss. Ask your butcher for a ‘center-cut pork loin, no bone, with rind’ to ensure you get both the belly and the fillet, with the skin still attached.
For 15.5 to 18 lbs (7 to 8 kg)
- 1 porchetta roast of about 15.5 to 18 lbs (7 to 8 kg), from a quality breed such as Heydehoeve, Duroc, or Livar.
- a scant 1/4 cup (50 g) coarse sea salt
- 4 tbsp fennel seeds
- 1 tbsp juniper berries
- 2 tbsp black peppercorns
- 1 tbsp pink peppercorns
- 2 lemons
- 12 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tbsp fennel powder
- 2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 8 tbsp finely chopped rosemary
- 3 tbsp finely chopped sage
- 4 tbsp coarse sea salt
- spice grinder or mortar and pestle zester
- rotisserie spit (with or without motor)
- large BBQ or fire place
- charcoal and briquettes, smoking wood optional (apple or beech wood)
- butcher’s twine
- box cutter
- 2 disposable aluminum pans
How to make:
Prep: 1 hour
Cooking: 6 hours.
Set up a BBQ or a fire pit with an indirect heat source. Install the spit so there’s about 1’ of space between the rod and the embers. Make sure there are no embers directly underneath the porchetta, otherwise the dripping fat will cause flare-ups. Fill the two aluminum pans with water and place them directly below the spot where you’ll hang the porchetta. Light the charcoal (you can use a looftlighter or a charcoal starter) and maintain a medium-hot fire (so hot that you won’t be able to hold your hands next to the porchetta for more than 3 seconds) throughout the entire cooking process.
Make the seasoning by roasting the fennel seeds, the juniper berries and the black and pink peppercorns in a pan over the fire until they begin to emit a nice aroma (about a minute). Let cool and grind the roasted fennel seeds, juniper, and peppercorns to a powder in a mortar or a spice grinder. Using a zester, scrape the zest off the lemons and chop it very fine. Combine the lemon zest with the spice powder and add the minced garlic, fennel powder, nutmeg, rosemary and sage, and the coarse sea salt and mix well.
Place the pork loin on a large work surface, with the rind (skin) facing up. Use the box cutter to score the skin every half inch across the entire length of the loin. Be sure to cut no deeper than the rind and underlying fat layer and avoid cutting into the meat itself. After scoring the entire rind, turn over the loin so the meat side is facing up. Coat the entire meat side with the seasoning, making sure it’s evenly spread out.
Roll up the loin by folding the pork belly (flatter part) around the fillet (thicker part). This way, the succulent pork belly will shield the slightly drier meat during cooking. Ask your BBQ assistant to help you tie up the porchetta. One person holds the rolled-up loin together, the other one loops butcher’s twine around it at ½ inch intervals. After tying it up, attach the porchetta to the spit,
and generously rub it with coarse sea salt (especially in the cuts you’ve made). It’s now ready to be cooked.
Hang the rod with the porchetta between the spit’s support posts. Cook the rotating porchetta for about 5 to 6 hours, until the fillet reaches an internal temperature of at least 147 ºF (64 ºC). If the porchetta is a nice dark color and the rind is crispy before it’s finished cooking, wrap the meat in aluminum foil. When the porchetta is done, remove the rod from the fire and transfer it to a large cutting board. Pull out the rod, cut away the butcher’s twine, and cut the porchetta, crispy rind and all, into thick slices.