Slow Cooker

Porchetta Pierino

March 29, 2010
0 Ratings
  • Serves 6
Author Notes

One of the guilty pleasures of my Italian travels has been the porchetta sandwich which is sold from food trucks in farmers’ markets and outside of football stadiums. Calvin Trillin describes such things as "foods of longing and regret." Porchetta originated in Umbria and typically you will see a whole suckling pig (or part of one) spitted in back. The meat is sliced right off of the pig and handed to you on a crusty roll. It took me a long time but I finally figured out a good way to duplicate it at home without the entire smiling Piggly Wiggly. One of the things I like about this preparation is that you get a toothsome bit of crispy skin with almost every slice. I’ve seen other recipes using pork loin and found them to be unsatisfactory. But a picnic shoulder works perfectly. Typically this is served without condiments (depending on where you happen to be). But I like to serve it to my guests with some salsa verde on the side. Excellent for informal entertaining. —pierino

What You'll Need
  • Porchetta (the pig)
  • 5 pounds fresh pork picnic shoulder, bone in (you will bone it out or your butcher will do it). If you are deft with a boning knife it's not difficult.
  • 1 fistful of kosher salt
  • ground white pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 bunch fresh chives, chopped (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon fennel pollen, or alternatively fennel seed ground in a spice grinder. See note below.
  • 2 branches fresh rosemary, leaves finely chopped
  • 1 cup good olive oil
  • 1 cup white wine (for basting)
  • 6 or 8 crusty Italian sandwich rolls
  • Salsa Verde (Italian style)
  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley
  • 2 anchovy filets either salt packed (rinsed) or in oil (avoid 'pizza' anchovies!).
  • 2 tablespoons salt packed capers (rinsed)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 light dash of red wine vinegar
  1. In a bowl, mix the "pig" herbs together with the olive oil.
  2. Once you have boned out that handsome shoulder (you saved the bone, right) spread it open and slash the skin in a diamond shape pattern, like two 'x's, but don't cut all the way through to the meat. Turn it over and slash some pockets into the meat, being careful not to cut all the way through to the skin and fat layer (see what I mean?). Rub about ¾ of the herb and olive oil mixture into the flesh. If you have the edible flowers from your rosemary (that's an option) add them now before assembly. Meanwhile preheat oven to 450?.
  3. Reform the ham and then tie it up like a salami or a fetish model, using one long single piece of cooking twine.
  4. Rub the tied up ham with olive oil and more coarse salt and then more of the herb/oil mix
  5. Place in a roasting pan and after 20 minutes in the hot oven baste with white wine and turn heat down to about 350?. Baste every 20 minutes with more wine and pan juices until the internal temp reaches 145?. Allow to rest, covered for at least 10 minutes before slicing very thinly.
  6. Now while your pig is cooking/resting make the salsa verde; you can do this by hand but having a food processor helps. Chop the parsley, garlic, and anchovies just enough to break them down. Add to the bowl of a food processor with the oil and vinegar and just pulse until smooth. Set this aside as your condiment.
  7. Heat the rolls in your still warm oven. Carve the pig thinly, keeping as much crispy skin intact as possible. Your guests can use the salsa as they like (the anchovies are throughly disguised in greeness and goodness).
  8. Note to cook; fennel pollen is amazing. Ground fennel seed is an adequate but weak, in comparison, substitute. Glad to see it in the " food52 shop".

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • MrsWheelbarrow
  • mrslarkin
  • TheWimpyVegetarian
  • lastnightsdinner
  • testkitchenette
Standup commis flâneur, and food historian. Pierino's background is in Italian and Spanish cooking but of late he's focused on frozen desserts. He is now finishing his cookbook, MALAVIDA! Can it get worse? Yes, it can. Visit the Malavida Brass Knuckle cooking page at Facebook and your posts are welcome there.

18 Reviews

Gale March 30, 2010
This sounds amazing and I love the idea from Antonia James about roasting the bone for stock since I really dislike the salty ham hock and can't force myself to buy the pathetic pork at the grocery. Thanks to both of you.
MrsWheelbarrow March 30, 2010
I don't know whether to head to the butcher for the pork, or the airport for a ticket to Umbria. Cannot wait to test this at a summer party. Thank you for what is surely already a winning recipe.
pierino March 30, 2010
Thank you ma'am. I would love nothing better than to stand toe to toe with Kimball's lab rats on behalf of OUR team. I wish I could make that "whishing" sound with my neck like the Nimble Chairman.
I'm retesting the recipe as we speak. And as a goof I've added some summer truffles (esitve).. But hey, that's nothing more than a goof. But for the porchetta, this is one I've worked on for years to get right. I'm ready to challenge anybody with it. Including starched apron boy.
mrslarkin March 30, 2010
I think that salsa verde might be nice with lamb, too. (with a little mint thrown in.)
pierino March 30, 2010
Actually salsa verde is most typically associated with bollito misto. But also with certain seafoods. To me it has a natural affinity with pork. But try it with lamb and tell me how it works out.
mrslarkin March 31, 2010
we're having porchetta and lamb on Easter, so I will definitely make the salsa verde.
TheWimpyVegetarian March 30, 2010
You've definitely got a winner here, Pierino. Hats off to you! I admit I've never worked with fennel pollen before, but love everything about fennel. It sounds like I must get some!
pierino March 30, 2010
You must.
TheWimpyVegetarian March 30, 2010
I'm on it!
lastnightsdinner March 30, 2010
I think you've got a winner on your hands, sir. Bravo.
testkitchenette March 30, 2010
Impressive, sadly I did not get to experience porchetta when visiting my sister in Italy. Thank you for providing me with the means to experience it at home!
monkeymom March 30, 2010
Bravo pierino!
Kayb March 29, 2010
Sounds absolutely astounding. May well be on the menu for the next party I have...
pierino March 30, 2010
Thanks Kayb. I've prepared this for a gathering of tenants which I've hosted in my building and one of my neighbor friends keeps nagging me to make it again. He also insists on the salsa verde on the side.So there you go...
mrslarkin March 29, 2010
Sounds great. I was hoping you'd do a porchetta for this challenge.
pierino March 29, 2010
Another note to cooks; if you keep that bone you can use it along with a ham hock to make a really a really good broth for cooking beans etc. You get the Recessionist Merit Badge.
AntoniaJames March 29, 2010
Even better, roast that pork bone for about 45 minutes in some good olive oil with a touch of salt and pepper, and skip the ham hock, for a really great tasting porky-but-not-hammy (excuse the ridiculous turn of phrase) stock. It's a nice change from the usual ham bone in beans. (Unsmoked) pork stock is so underappreciated. It takes to herbs really well, too. (I roasted a pork leg in December, marinated in port. The stock I made was heavenly.) ;o)
pierino March 29, 2010
I really do like that suggestion of roasting that bone for stock. Along with some onions and carrots you could maybe cut up a fennel bulb for the roasting pan. Hmm, I think I'll have to try this. Quality bones should never go to waste, there's so much flavor there.