As the second weekend of the new year approached, I’m assuming that everyone’s resolutions to eat better are about to be postponed until January 1, 2012. Who wants chicken breasts and brown rice when you can have a succulent pork shoulder wrapped stuffed with fennel and onions and wrapped with pancetta? It’s time to fall of the wagon and have some porchetta.
Although the traditional porchetta involves roasting a whole pig, I decided that that may be just slightly too ambitious to do in a studio apartment, so my porchetta only uses meat from shoulder, one of the most flavorful and economical cuts of the pig. Porchetta comes in many shapes and forms, and I like to keep mine simple so that the meat shines rather than the filling. The only thing to really focus on is the pork. Be sure to pick out a well-marbled pork shoulder with a thick fat cap on top which will keep the meat moist throughout the cooking process. A fatty piece of pork will make falling off the wagon for porchetta all the more worth it.
Serves 6 to 8
- 1 3 to 4 lb. boneless pork shoulder, butterflied
- salt and pepper
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1 fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 1 tbsp rosemary, chopped
- 1 tbsp fennel seeds, toasted
- 1 tbsp black peppercorns, toasted and ground
- 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
- 1 egg
- 1/4 lb. pancetta
- Preheat the oven to 350F
- Season the pork on all sides with salt and pepper.
- Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.
- Add the fennel, onion, garlic, fennel, rosemary to the skillet and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very soft, about 10 minutes. Remove the onion and fennel from the pan and allow to cool to room temperature in a medium bowl.
- Once the fennel and onion mixture is at room temperature, mix in the fennel seeds, peppercorns, breadcrumbs, and egg, stirring well to combine.
- Tie the pork shoulder with butchers twine, tying knots spaced one-inch apart across the length of the pork shoulder.
- Put the pork shoulder in a small roasting pan or large skillet so that the fat cap is facing up. Drape the pancetta on top of the pork loin so that it is entirely covered. You will likely have some pancetta leftover.
- Roast the pork shoulder until the internal temperature in the thickest part of the meat reaches 160F, 1.5 to 2 hours.
- Remove the porchetta from the pan and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.
- Slice the porchetta in 1-inch thick pieces and serve with the crispy bits of pancetta.