Gifted with a Boston butt (also known as a Boston Blade Roast, or a Bone-In Pork Shoulder) with an almost half-inch layer of fat, I just had to challenge myself to give porchetta a try at home.
I’ve always been a little intimidated by porchetta. Traditionally, porchetta should be a giant slab of boneless pork roast covered with a thick layer of fat and skin. After crusting it with garlic, fennel, and wild herbs, it’s roasted low and slow until the skin is crackling on the outside, and gooey on the inside. The meat should fall apart in a sloppy, delicious mess in your mouth.
I don’t know why I have always been a hesitant to make it at home. Maybe it’s because I rarely think to buy such a large and fatty cut for myself. Or maybe it’s because I live so close to Sara Jenkins’ Porchetta, it just seems easier to leave the slow roasting up to professionals.
Though Jenkins does give a recipe for porchetta away on the restaurant’s site, this is actually a different one. This ridiculously easy recipe is from Epicurious, but it does take some advance scheduling before going for a long comfortable ride in the oven. Do plan ahead accordingly.
Because I used a bone-in cut instead of a boneless cut, the meat for this recipe will have a different texture and a little more give than porchetta normally does. However the flavors and fantastic fattiness are there. It is still heavenly to eat — which is the most important thing.
2 tablespoons of fennel seeds
1 tablespoon of kosher salt
2 teaspoons of black peppercorns
1 teaspoon of dried crushed red pepper
6 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 2-3 pound bone-in pork shoulder (also known as a Boston Blade Roast, or bone-in Boston Butt) trimmed of over-hanging fat, but with its outer layer of fat intact
1 cup of Riesling, or another aromatic white wine
1/2 cup of chicken stock
A spice or coffee grinder, or a mortar and pestle
A leave-in meat thermometer
How to prepare:
1. The night before, toss the fennel seeds in a pan set over medium-high heat until the they are toasted and fragrant. Transfer them to your spice grinder. Add the salt, the peppercorns, and the dried crushed red pepper flakes. Grind everything together to an even consistency, but not a powder. You are looking for a medium-coarse grind.
2. Using paper towels, pat the pork roast dry. Rub the finely minced garlic all over it. Rub the spice mixture in afterwards, pressing it into the meat so that it makes a nice and even crust. Wrap the roast up in a large piece of waxed paper, and refrigerate it overnight.
3. Preheat your oven to 450°. While your oven is heating up, remove the roast from the fridge, and let it come closer to room temperature.
4. Place the pork in a roasting pan, fat-side up. Drizzle it with olive oil. When the oven has come up to temperature, roast it for about 30 minutes before dropping the temperature to 300°. Continue to roast until the pork is nice and tender. This will take about 3 hours or so. The meat should register about 190°.
5. When the roast is done, remove it from the oven and let it rest for about 15-30 minutes. While the roast is resting, pour the fat and the juices from the roasting pan into a saucepan. Skim off as much fat as you can (this might be a little tricky, but do the best you can). Set the saucepan over medium-high heat, and add the wine and the stock. Whisk everything together, dissolving any crunchy bits you can. Reduce the sauce until you have about 3/4 of a cup. The sauce will be thin.
6. Pull the meat off of the bone with two forks, spoon the sauce over the meat, and eat lustily.