Porchetta - Salty, Fatty Over the Top Pork

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  • Porchetta - Salty, Fatty Over the Top Pork

    This is an Italian festive food served typically by mobile "Porchetta Vans" moving from town to town according to the feast days of that town's patron saints. There are 3600 saints so you can expect them to be very busy. When I first saw the ingredients I had to do a double take. All that salt and fennel (mild aniseed flavour). I cooked it and it was a great success. Since then I cook it whenever I can. It has to be the very best meat sandwich possible.

    These vendors bone out a 25-30KG pig season it then oven or spit roast it. There are numerous seasonings, often including offel. It is then sliced and served on bread.

    This is the simplest, and according to my Italian "other" family the best by far.

    5KG pork loin prepared for rolling (10 main serves)
    Butcher's twine
    Cooking oil
    Salt Flakes

    150gms cooking salt (3%)
    75gms wild fennel flowers and/or leaves (1-2%) (flowers are best, but you need to collect them at the end of summer)

    12 heat beads and kerosene (fire lighters are OK, but slower than kero soaked heat beads)
    Charcoal (5 KG Bag. Must be lump charcoal)

    Spit roaster
    Charcoal starter (optional)
    Long tongs
    Water sprayer
    Paper towels

    The Seasoning
    3% of meat weight cooking salt (Sounds a lot? Sausages vary from 2% - 3% salt)
    1-2% wild fennel

    Wild fennel. This is a weed and is found in undeveloped land close to fresh water. In Sydney it can be found all along the road to Kurnell. Take a plastic bag and scissors and get as much as you need. If the plant is in flower then collect the flowers, otherwise use the soft new fronds. I collect much more that I need and keep a stash in the freezer.

    Chop the fennel very finely and mix with the salt.

    The Meat
    If the meal is mainly porchetta and bread then you will want minimum 350gms per person. I work on 500gms and still only have a small portion left over. The easiest pork cut to use is the loin. Ask your butcher to to prepare it for rolling and give you some string. You can also provide the seasoning and have your butcher season and roll the cut for you if you are to cook it on the same day. Don't leave the meat seasoned too long, the layered flavours are part of the experience.

    (1) Score the rind at 6mm centres so that every slice gets some crackling.
    (2) Lay the loin/belly out and butterfly the fillet, (without removing it) to form another layer for seasoning.
    (3) Rub the salt and fennel mixture evenly over the flesh and into the fillet cut then roll firmly with plenty of string. I tie at 30mm intervals then run string at 90 degrees to the "rings", along it's length for added strength and in an attempt to get a perfect roll.
    (4) Skewer the roll with the spit bar trying to get the steel through the centre of mass. Spin it in your hands making adjustments where necessary until the meat rotates evenly. If your spit has a counterweight then you should be able to get it centred well.
    (5) Rest the meat over the sink and pour boiling water over it. You will see the cuts open slightly.
    (6) Dry the meat and spray or brush it all over with oil.
    (7) Sprinkle salt flakes on the roll.

    This is the critical part of the process.

    The Spit
    If you have a professional spit roaster then you should have no problems. Cheapie home versions can be a problem. Battery powered units seldom work well and eat batteries at an alarming rate. Most modern batteries are not designed to deliver the power that a spit roast needs. If you have the option use a 240 volt motor. I have a battery motor modified to use a car battery and it work well. (A voltage regulator from Jaycar).

    Before you fire up the charcoal (or better still move charcoal to the spit) fit the meat to the unit and see how well it turns. You don't want the spit failing part way through cooking.

    Lump Charcoal.
    Getting the heat going often takes a lot longer than you think. I use a charcoal starter, my fireplace in winter or my Webber kettle to get the coals hot. I then transfer them to the spit. I do this because the flat, enclosed base of the spit box does not allow for enough air flow and can take 60 minutes or more to get up to heat.

    I like to soak 12 heat beads in kerosene for about 10 minutes then light them in the charcoal starter. There will be plenty of flame and lots of smoke so do this where you have good ventilation. I don't mind the smell of burning kero. I associate it with avgas and a flight to a nice destination.

    The heat beads should ash over completely about 15 minutes after the flames have died. Time to pile on the charcoal. When that charcoal is burning nicely I transfer it to the spit and pile on more charcoal. Cooking a small loin (4-5KG) I use about 1/3 of a 5KG charcoal bag.

    You need the fire hot to start with. Too hot is better than not hot enough because you can use your tongs to push charcoal away from or back to the meat. Make sure that the coals overlap the meat ends well.

    Before you put the meat on the spit get a chair and have your water squirter and paper towels ready. You can't leave the meat for the next hour or more. You will get little fat fires flaring up and these deposit creosote on the meat and burn the skin. Not good. You can wipe the creosote off the meat but you can't unburn the skin.

    During this first hour you will be moving coals away from fat drips and re-arranging the coals to get perfect crackling. I often stop the motor over a hot spot for a few seconds to blister the skin.

    The crackling should be good after the first 30 minutes or so, then you can spread out the coals to reduce direct heat and slow down the cooking. You can expect lots of fat drips for the next 30 minutes or so. Don't walk away.

    The loin should be cook through in 1.5 to 2 hrs. Use a meat thermometer if you have one or do a small cut at the end to see the meat colour.

    When cooked remove the meat and place it on a chopping board. Cover it loosely with foil and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.


  • #2
    So Snag when are you having the Forum BBQ ???

    I'm hungry.



    • El-Skippo
      Skip commented
      Editing a comment
      Originally posted by Maverick" post=2487
      So Snag when are you having the Forum BBQ ???

      I'm hungry.

      You an me both

  • #3
    Well, it just so happens in going camping on the Oct long weekend. The property has tonnes of yellow box and I'm thinking I've got time to build a spit and follow your recipe




    • #4
      Thanks for sharing that Snag - sounds like a rippa recipe, might give it a crack myself one day.
      Whacking Varmints is my passion!


      • Pody
        Pody commented
        Editing a comment
        Originally posted by Varminator" post=2498
        Thanks for sharing that Snag - sounds like a rippa recipe, might give it a crack myself one day.

    • #5
      I forgot the beer. How is this possible?

      Minimum serve: 6 coldies per head plus extra for the cook.


      • #6
        Damnit Pete, when am I getting a slice of this stuff?

        Howsabout you come to the forum shoot and have an Iron Chef cook off with our resident Greek maestro?

        Sometimes life gives you lambda points. Just chill, once the bubbling stops s'all good mate.

        Brotha's got spinners!


        • #7
          When I can make it down to the Canberra LR Shoot I'll cook it for lunch.

          I smoked a ham on the Webber last time. That went down well... all 9.5KG of it.


          • #8
            sounds good, My first recipies will be going up this week (first one will be using red claws)


            • Aushunter
              Aushunter commented
              Editing a comment
              I have had the pleasure of partaking in Snags "Porchetta" & its a lovely bit of meat

              Great flavours with the fennel flowers

              Look forward to the next time & I might have to step up put myself to the challenge

              Thanks for the recipe too Snag

          • #9
            I've tried it on four occasions.... would make a great jaffle filling if there wasn't any baked beans or spagetti and the fennel version for the Eastern suburbs.
            "If we meet offline and you look nothing like your Pics...You are buying me drinks until you do!"


            • Aushunter
              Aushunter commented
              Editing a comment
              I do actually love jaffles , they are on the top of my list of snack food

              I have many favourite fillings including mash potato, cheese & spag bol/savoury mince.

              But they wouldn't be ok for the SOP would they??

              By SOP do you actually mean safe operating procedure??

          • #10
            Favourite jaffle... 'bubble'n'squeak' jaffle.
            "If we meet offline and you look nothing like your Pics...You are buying me drinks until you do!"