So, this was my third attempt at Serious Eats (SE) - All Belly Porchetta.
The first two, while both generally successful did have some flaws. This came down to cooking times and limitations of using a normal oven. Additionally, the seasonings used in those two attempts seemed to over-power the pork, especially if being eaten as a main meal (i.e not on a roll/sandwich).
This time around I was determined to get it right. The occasion was New Years Day 2016, not just an important day in the calendar, but also the opportunity to christen my mother-in-law’s new BBQ, in particular the rotisserie function.
The detailed approach is over at SE, but I did modify mine slightly.
|Pork Belly||Approx 4kg|
|Dried mixed herbs||approx 2 tablespoons|
|Pepper and Salt||A tablespoon or so of each|
|Pork Skin Rub|
|Baking Powder||1 teaspoon|
- Ask your butcher for a piece of pork belly, skin on, about 2.5-4cm thick and rectangular, approx 40cm long and 30cm high.
- When you get home, trim the edges to make it nice and square if needed. Also remove any internal flaps of meat that may have been attached to the ribs to get a clean flat inner surface (you can see the piece I removed in the first photo below, bottom left). Save these for my Pork Belly Satay.
- Turn the belly over (meat down and use a sharp knife or stanley blade) to score vertically (down the short axis) into the pork skin approximately 2-4cm apart, being careful not to cut into the meat.
- Turn back over (skin side down). Use a sharp knife to cut diagonally in both directions into the meat (the meat only, not the skin and fat)
- Sprinkle with dried mixed (Italian) herbs and plenty of pepper and salt.
Start from the ends and tie the pork belly into a roll. This can be tricky. Some tips:
- Sometimes it is best to do this in stages. i.e Dont try and get it super tight first time around. Put some loose loops around first, to get the basic shape. Then replace these one by one, making them tighter as you go.
- Try and learn a basic slip knot. This makes all the difference. There are plenty of guides on the web. If you can’t learn one or are in a hurry, find a second pair of hands to help you hold the knots tight while you secure.
- Tie the string between the score marks you made previously. This allows the skin to fan out and crisp intensely when cooked
- If you are struggling to get the edges to join, use a sharp knife to slice between the meat and the fat of that section. Use your fingers to push the meat down into the middle of the roll. This will allow you to join the edges perfectly.
- If you are new to this, don’t try and tie the belly with one piece of string, use a piece for each loop.
If the ends of your roll are a bit ragged, use a sharp knife and cut downwards to make them nice and square. Again save the trimmings for this.
- Layout three pieces of cling film (at least 60cm) slightly overlapping on a table or bench. -
- Mix up 1 teaspoon of baking powder with 2 tablespoons of salt as per the SE recipe.
- Lay the pork across the cling film
- Sprink all over with salt/baking powder combo and rub it in to all the cracks.
- Roll the pork up really tightly.
- Refrigerate for 1-3 days. The longer the better
If you are using an oven, check out the SE link above. My only piece of advice would be to be careful you dont dry out the meat. The first time I did this in the oven I got amazing crackling (best Ive ever had in the oven) but dry pork. The second time the pork was better but the crackling was not as good.
If you are using a rotisserie, see below. This would be amazing over charcoal but I was tasked with using a brand-spanking new gas barbeque.
This will be different for everyone but my approach was to
- Get the meat securely attached to the spit.
- Put a drip tray underneath.
- Use the outside bottom burners for actually cooking the pork, alternating between one and two burners to control the heat around 160 degrees celsius for 2.5-3 hours
- Use the rotisserie burner (directly behind the pork) to crisp the skin. 10-15 minutes max (Be careful when crisping the skin. I just caught mine in time, too busy drinking beer and enjoying myself :)
The End Result
Words aren’t really needed but it was a spectacular success. The meat was juicy and tender, the crackling skin was out of this world! The crackling was darker than intended, but it didn’t seem to affect the flavour. Keep a close eye on it at the end.