Recipes | Gennaro Contaldo's porchetta


Gennaro Contaldo's porchetta

If you're looking for new ideas for a Sunday roast try TV chef Gennaro Contaldo's fantastic porchetta (stuffed rolled pork belly) from his lovely book Gennaro: Let's Cook Italian which is all about the dishes he makes at home for his family and friends.

Gennaro says "Porchetta to me means a party and I make it during special occasions, when I know hordes of people will drop by. It feeds lots, can be eaten cold and can be stored in the fridge for up to a week. Traditionally in Italy, porchetta is a whole piglet filled with lots of fresh herbs and slow-roasted either in a wood oven or even outdoors on a spit. It is made at home, as well as sold ready-made as a takeaway. Since whole piglets are not that easily obtainable, I use pork belly and the result is similar."

Serves 10–12

5kg/11lb pork belly (ask your butcher to remove the ribs and trim the excess fat)

25g/1oz coarse sea salt

freshly ground coarse black pepper

small green leaves from a large handful
of fresh thyme

leaves from a large handful of fresh rosemary, roughly chopped

a large handful of fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped

1 tbsp fennel seeds (if you are lucky enough to find wild fennel use it)

8 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

small carrots, cut into chunks

6 tbsp runny honey

Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas 7. Lay the pork belly flat, skin side down. Sprinkle with half the salt and lots of black pepper, rubbing it well into the meat with your fingers. Leave to rest for 10 minutes so that the seasoning settles well into the meat. Sprinkle the herbs, fennel seeds and garlic evenly all over.

You will need 10 pieces of string, each about 30cm/12 inches long. Carefully roll the meat up widthways and tie it very tightly with string in the middle of the joint. Then tie at either end about 1cm/1/2 inch from the edge and keep tying along the joint until you have used up all the string. The filling should be well wrapped – if any escapes from the sides, push it in. Using your hands, massage 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil over the joint, then rub in the remaining salt and some more black pepper.

Grease a large roasting pan with the remaining olive oil and place the pork in it. Roast for 10 minutes, then turn it over. After 15 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 150°C/300°F/gas mark 2 and cover the pork with foil (if you like the crackling to be very crispy, don’t bother with the foil, but remember the porchetta needs to be thinly sliced and crispy crackling will make that difficult). Roast for 3 hours.

If cooking the potatoes and carrots, add them to the roasting dish for the final 11/2 hours of cooking.

Remove the joint from the oven and coat with the honey, drizzling some of the juices from the roasting tin over it too. Insert a fork at either side of the joint and lift onto a wooden board. Leave to rest for 5 minutes, then slice and serve hot or cold.

Recipe from Gennaro: Let’s Cook Italian, published by Pavilion. Recipe photography by David Loftus.

Wine pairing: I personally would fancy a crisp dry Italian white wine like a Vermentino with this but think most people would prefer a red. Chianto Classico would be a good match or try a simple supple Italian red like a Rosso di Montalcino.

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