I promised to post this recipe a couple of days ago, but then the weather got all tropical in the Netherlands and I couldn’t do anything else than enjoying these last steamy and sweaty days of summer. Now the temperatures have dropped again I’m happy to post this incredible porchetta. Just as most pork belly-recipes it’s very easy to prepare, the hardest part is tying the knots and if you find that difficult you should just order in tonight, cause it probably isn’t going to work out for you in the kitchen.
I didn’t get my skin as crispy as I wanted to, but maybe that’s because I didn’t (I mean: my butcher didn’t) make as many scores as stated in the recipe. Anyway, it was still very delicious and, once again, the guys in my student house made sure there wasn’t any piece of pork left.
Since my final outcome pictures failed, this last picture in which you see me focussing – and biting my lip in concentration – on cutting the meat is the most decent picture of how the porchetta turned out.
Recipe adapted from Home Made Winter by Yvette van Boven (Dutch, but will be translated into English).
3 kg pork belly, skin on*
30 g course sea salt, plus a little bit extra**
freshly ground pepper
a small bunch of fresh thyme
a small bunch of fresh rosemary
a bigger bunch of fresh sage
2 tbsp fennel seeds
8 cloves of garlic
100 g pine nuts
4 tbsp olive oil
freshly ground pepper
kitchen twine, about 10 pieces of 30 cm
*I’ve had my butcher score the pork skin. Ask him/her to make scores 8 mm apart from each other. This is way easier – and safer – than to do it yourself at home.
** Even though this looks like a huge amount of salt, I already cut it back. The original recipe stated 50 grams, but this was just too salty. Next time I would make it I would use 30 grams of salt, but I haven’t tried it yet, so it’s just my guess.
Preheat the oven to 230˚C.
Place the pieces of kitchen twine vertically in front of you (as you can see in the pictures, I didn’t do this and it got all messy when I already sprinkled the meat with the herb mixture and then had to get the twines under the meat). Place the meat over the pieces of kitchen twine, skin side down. Sprinkle it with the salt and freshly ground pepper and rub it into the meat.
Put the thyme, rosemary, sage, fennel seeds, garlic, pine nuts and oil in a kitchen food processor and grind it into a course herb mixture. Sprinkle it over the pork belly.
Roll the pork belly and tie the pieces of kitchen twine. Start from the middle and make your way to the outside. You might need a second pair of hands to help you with this part. Cut the end of the strings.
Rub the outside of the pork belly with some more olive oil and sprinkle with some more sea salt and pepper. Place the meat in a roasting tin, put it into the oven and roast it for 20 minutes.
Lower the oven temp to 150˚C and cover the roasting tin with tin foil. Leave in the oven for 3 hours, without paying any attention to it – this is the best part of the recipe.
After three hours, remove the tin foil and baste the meat with its own juices and fat from the roasting tin. Bake for 20 minutes more, to ensure a crispy crackling.
Take the meat out of the oven and place it on a cutting board. Leave to rest for a short while – if you can resist to urge to dive in immediately – or make some pictures and get laughed at by your housemates.
Cut into slices and devour.