Porchetta is an Italian pork delicacy, slow-roasted until golden and crispy on the outside, with meat that is deliciously seasoned, juicy and savory on the inside. My porchetta recipe is simplified for the home kitchen, prepared with flavorful pork shoulder seasoned with lots of herbs and spices such as rosemary, thyme, parsley, fennel and garlic, then roasted to perfection and sliced thinly for use in mouthwatering sandwiches!
A Delicious Italian-Style Pork Delicacy
Near our home, we have a wonderful little European deli that carries all sorts of phenomenal meats and cheeses. Years back I had sampled their thinly-sliced porchetta (pronounced por-keh-tah) and enjoyed it thoroughly on freshly baked bread from the little bakery next door to the deli.
Traditionally, porchetta is Italian roasted pork prepared by using an entire pig, liberally seasoned with lots of aromatic ingredients such as fresh rosemary, thyme, parsley, fennel, garlic and lemon zest, then slow-roasted over a wood fire for eight hours or more until the meat is rich and juicy, and utterly falling apart.
But since roasting an entire pig is not really a viable option for those of us who are home cooks, I've created my scrumptious porchetta recipe to be a much more simplified and scaled down version that will feed a handful of folks as opposed to a small army.
My porchetta makes use of rich, marbled pork shoulder (or Boston butt) with its fatty top that becomes nice and crispy and caramelized as traditional porchetta does, only in much smaller size.
I also liberally season my porchetta with a wonderfully fragrant mixture of garlic, fennel, rosemary, thyme, parsley, plus lemon zest, for absolutely mouthwatering results made easy.
Sliced nice and thin, this porchetta roast is absolutely divine when layered between slices of fresh bread to make a sandwich, or even enjoyed with roasted potatoes or a green salad as a main meal!
My Easy Porchetta Recipe
As I mentioned above, the classic Italian preparation for making porchetta is to use an entire pig, which is certainly a challenge in a home kitchen, to put it mildly.
Another popular way to prepare porchetta is to use a combination of pork belly and a pork loin, which is delicious, but still can end up being quite large and cumbersome to work with, especially if you're looking for a smaller roast that is easier to handle.
For an easy porchetta recipe, the perfect cut of pork is pork shoulder (or Boston butt), because it can be butterflied and opened up, and then spread generously with all of those fantastic aromatic ingredients, rolled up jellyroll-style and tied with the fat side facing outward, and roasted to fantastically flavorful results.
One thing that is recommended when preparing porchetta (any version of it), and which I like to do as well, is to allow the seasoned and rolled pork to rest, uncovered, in the fridge for 24 hours (or at least overnight), or even up to 48 hours.
This “open air” method allows the pork to sort of cure in the fridge and dry the outer part so that it becomes caramelized once roasted at the higher temperature. This method also allows additional time for those aromatic ingredients to really permeate the pork.
The "curing" is not absolutely necessary (you can totally prep and roast this porchetta and skip that step), but I like to incorporate it into my method here for added flavor.
Here's a peek at my porchetta recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- To get started, I place my pork shoulder vertically on a cutting board with the fatty side down. I butterfly the shoulder by cutting most of the way through the center, though not all the way through. I open the pork up like a book, then make smaller cuts into each side of the meat, butterflying it further (again, not all the way through), until the pork shoulder lays flat and open on the cutting board, with the fat side down.
- Next, I liberally rub my seasoning ingredients all over the butterflied pork shoulder, salting and peppering it well. Then, I carefully roll up the pork (rolling the shorter ends), and tie every couple of inches with kitchen twine to secure the porchetta.
- I place the porchetta onto a large plate or platter into the fridge, uncovered, and allow it to cure for 24 hours.
- After 24 hours, I bring the porchetta to room temperature for a couple of hours, then roast it at 425° for 45 minutes, then reduce the temp to 325° and roast further until the internal temp reaches 190°, roughly another 1 hour and 35 minutes, depending on your oven.
- I allow the porchetta to rest for about 15-20 minutes before I thinly slice it and enjoy.
by Ingrid Beer
This porchetta is prepared with flavorful pork shoulder seasoned with herbs, garlic, fennel and citrus zest, then slow roasted to perfection!
Yield: Serves 8
Nutrition Info: 692 calories per serving
Prep Time: 30 minutes (does not include cure time)
Cook time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Total time: 2 hours 50 minutes
- 4 pound boneless pork shoulder (or Boston butt)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 ½ teaspoons fennel seeds
- 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped, fresh rosemary leaves
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
- 8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- Olive oil
- To begin, gather and prep all of your ingredients according to the ingredients list above to have ready and organized for use.
- To butterfly the pork shoulder, place it vertically (length-wise up and down) on a work surface in front of you, with the fatty side down. Using a sharp fillet knife, cut through the center of the meat taking care not to cut all the way through, and gently press the meat open like a book.
- Keep making cuts into the meat (again, not going all the way through) scoring some of the sinew and fat, so that eventually the pork shoulder ends up pretty much completely flat, like an open book.
- Sprinkle the meat generously with a couple of teaspoons of salt and a generous sprinkle of ground black pepper, and set aside for a moment.
- Add the fennel seeds to a small pan, and lightly toast on medium-high for about 1 minute, or just until lightly fragrant. Add the toasted seeds to a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle, and finely grind them. (You can even crush the seeds with the bottom of a pan, or even lightly chop them, if needed.)
- Next, add the crushed fennel to a large ramekin or small dish, and add to this the chopped parsley, rosemary, thyme, garlic, and lemon zest. Drizzle in a bit of olive oil to create a bit of a paste of this herby mixture, and add a small sprinkle of salt and pepper to this. Spread this herb mixture all over the butterflied pork shoulder, rubbing it into all of the cuts/crevasses.
- Tightly roll the butterflied pork shoulder up using the shorter end of the pork (jellyroll-style) as best as possible, and once rolled, use kitchen twine to tie and secure the roast every two inches or so. Place the porchetta roast seam-side down onto a large platter, pat dry, and place into the refrigerator (uncovered) to cure for 24 hours, or at least overnight.
- Remove the porchetta from the fridge 2-3 hours prior to roasting, to allow it to come to room temperature.
- To roast the porchetta, preheat the oven to 450°, and place the oven rack on the bottom third of the oven. Insert a digital thermometer into the thickest portion of the porchetta.
- Rub a small amount of olive oil all over the outside of the porchetta, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper, and place the porchetta onto a wire rack set over a foil-lined baking sheet. Place into the oven to roast at 450° for 45 minutes. Then, reduce the oven temperature to 325°, and continue to roast the meat until the digital thermometer reaches 190° (roughly 1 hour and 35 minutes longer).
- Once out of the oven, allow the porchetta to rest for 15-20 minutes, then cut the kitchen twine and remove it. Slice the porchetta thinly and serve piled into rustic bread for sandwiches, or as a main dish with your choice of sides.
Tips & Tidbits for my Porchetta:
- Boneless pork shoulder, for easy porchetta: I'm using a 4 pound boneless pork shoulder here instead of the more traditional pork belly, or pork belly and pork loin combo. Pork shoulder is a nice combination of fat and meat, with terrific flavor when slow-roasted to tender perfection.
- Butterflying your pork shoulder: When you butterfly your pork shoulder to open it up and season, carefully cut through the center (taking care not to cut all the way through), then open it up as much as possible. Continue to make small cuts/slices into the meat (again, not all the way through) on both sides of the open pork shoulder, continuing to press it to help it to lay flat and opened up.
- Be liberal with the seasonings: Because porchetta is a flavorful roast, using lots of fresh herbs as well as garlic, salt and black pepper will help create a terrific end result. Also, make sure to season the outside of the rolled pork shoulder and drizzle it with olive oil before placing it into the oven.
- Allow the porchetta some time for drying and curing: While you can certainly season and immediately roast your porchetta, allowing to porchetta to sit, uncovered, in the fridge for 24 hours (or at least overnight) will help the flavors intensify and dry the outside to help with caramelization of the fat.
- Porchetta for sandwiches: If you're planning on using this porchetta roast for sandwiches, then slice the meat very thin once it has had the chance to rest. Then, you can pile it up onto fresh ciabatta rolls or bread, or even sneak slices out of the fridge as a savory snack!