Cook up this glorious porchetta recipe for your next Italian feast. This Umbrian version, simplified for the home cook, is flavoured with fragrant fennel seeds, smoked garlic, lemon and wine – the perfect pairings for the rich pork belly and Pork loin.
2.5kg pork belly, boneless
600g of pork loin
2 sprigs of rosemary, leaves picked
3 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves picked
1 large bulb of smoked garlic
1 tbsp of fennel seeds
1 pinch of chilli flakes
1 lemon, zested
2 tbsp of white wine
1 tsp flaky sea salt
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
500ml of water
Pestle and mortar
Although porchetta can be found throughout Italy (most notably in Lazio), it originated in the central region of Umbria. A hefty fennel flavouring sets it apart from other regional porchettas, with Umbrians basing the stuffing on the plentiful wild fennel that grows there. In Lazio, rosemary tends to be the most prominent flavouring.
Real porchetta is made from whole suckling pig, stuffed with flavourings such as fennel, herbs, and its own offal, and cooked over a pit until perfectly tender. This is, of course, a bit of an ask for the home cook, so we’ve captured all of the flavours of porchetta and adapted them into something much easier to handle using pork belly and loin – the results are stunning.
1-To begin, place the fennel seeds and chilli flakes in a hot, dry pan and toast for 30 seconds, until fragrant
2-Peel the garlic cloves and place in a pestle and mortar. Add the herbs, toasted spices, salt, pepper and white wine and grind to a rough paste
3-Place the pork belly skin side down and lay the loin across the width. Trim the loin down to size so it rolls up neatly
4-Lightly score the belly flesh in a 2cm diagonal pattern and massage the stuffing paste into the belly and loin. Place the loin back onto the belly
5-Roll up tightly, tie up with butcher’s string and leave uncovered in the fridge overnight. This will dry out the skin, giving a crispier crackling
6-Preheat the oven to 160°C/gas mark 3
7-Place the pork on a wire rack set over an oven tray. Pour in the 500ml of water and cook in the oven for 3 1/2 to 4 hours. Check at intervals; if the water has evaporated, add a little more
8-Leave to rest for 30 minutes before carving. Slice and serve warm in buttered bread rolls