You know you’re a parent when Christmas feels to you like like it’s approaching at the speed of light but to the small people in your life there’s clearly more than an eternity still to wait. It’s definitely time to start thinking food. It’s also time to start considering the annual logistical challenge of getting a large pine tree into our shoebox of a house, but that’s another story. Porchetta is really the ultimate festive roast beast to me. We had a beautiful boutique porchetta purchased from a deli in Lygon St for our wedding spread and I’ve been a big fan ever since. I’ve since fiddled around with a few recipes and have finally got a method sorted that seems to work consistently well for me. It takes a while to cook but is otherwise dead simple. This will definitely be appearing at Christmas lunch this year, probably with a lentil salad.
I find this a joy to make (vegetarians read no further). It’s very physical to prepare, rubbing the stuffing mix into the flesh, trussing the wee beastie up and rubbing salt into the skin. You need to blast the roast in a hot oven to get really crispy crackling, so you get to listen to that glorious bubbling and splattering for a while which always reminds me of the sound of suet in the pan that accompanied my grandparents’ roast dinners. Then you drop the temperature back to moderate for a few hours – so you get a whole afternoon or morning of porchetta aromas in the kitchen. You need to have no fear-you will not overcook it. The meat is best left to cool to room temperature or eaten out of the fridge the following day. This way the meat and stuffing mix sort of settle in together and get real friendly with each other. This is a test of endurance. Pete and I always lurk with intent around the meat and it’s a relief when its wrapped in the fridge and safely out of temptation’s way.
- Pork loin,boned, fat and skin still on (this recipe will do fora 1 -2 kg piece of meat)
- 3-4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
- Generous amount freshly ground black pepper
- Sea salt
- Olive oil
- Cooking string
Heat oven to around 220 degrees Celsius. Score the skin of your pork. This can be a tricky job but try and get the score lines as close together as you can as once the skin gets really crispy the meat will be hard to carve except along the score lines. Mix the garlic,rosemary, sage and fennel seeds with a small amount of olive oil to make a paste. Open out your loin and lay it skin side down. Grind a VERY generous amount of black pepper on the meat and then rub the herb and garlic mix all over the meat. Take a short end of the loin and roll it up tight like a jam roly poly. Tie it securely with cooking twine so that it makes a tight roll.Rub some oil into the skin and then a good whack of salt, making sure you get salt into the grooves of the score lines.
Place the meat in a roasting pan and cook in hot oven for 20 mins to half an hour to get the skin going. Take the temperature down to 160 degrees Celsius and cook for a further 3 hours. Baste occasionally with pan juices. Remove loin and let sit for at least half an hour before serving. Can most happily be made a day ahead and served cold.