I would have been really upset if I couldn’t include this recipe in my cookbook.
Please don’t think it’s because I hate tomatoes! I LOVE tomatoes!!
So if I haven’t already made this announcement to you, here it is: My cookbook is based on the theme of “Italian Cooking with No Tomatoes.” It’s a new way of thinking about Italian cooking, and I think all levels of chefs will adore it. With any luck, it will be available for purchase by October. (Though given how that’s the month I’m also getting married, that final “on the shelves” date may change…)
Anyway, one of the great recipes from the catalog of tomato-free Italian cooking is Porchetta. It’s a rolled piece of skin-on pork that gets a super-crispy skin and is then sliced thin and served in all manner of ways. (Though pork sandwiches remain a favorite porchetta application of mine…)
Many people use a whole pork belly for porchetta, but that’s not only an unwieldy amount of pork (usually in the 10-12 lb range), but it’s cost-prohibitive for many people to buy that much pork at once. So I wanted the recipe for my book to be a little more reasonable – both financially and economically. So I decided I wanted to use a boneless skin-on pork shoulder for my recipe (about 6 lbs).
So I asked my butcher friend about getting one of these pieces of pork, and he told me – much to my surprise – that he didn’t know if they could get that cut. He said he’d never seen it, and there was just no market for skin-on pork any more. I figured I could maybe special order it someday if I had to, but could it be that the central ingredient to my recipe was impossible to get? If so, I’d surely have to delete it from my cookbook.
Such a perilous thought for someone who loves pork as much as me…
A few days later, I was wandering the aisles of my local Giant Food when I came across a small lady loading large items into her cart with incredible fervor. I was shocked by the scene, and had to know what was so exciting. And there they were. Bone-in skin-on pork shoulders. For $0.99/lb! I had to muscle the spry little woman out of the way to grab two for myself, but I managed.
I knew instantly that these were going to be the demo for my Italian class at LIFeSTYLE in Bedford, PA the following week. One would be made ahead, and the other would be constructed in front of the class. Then, through the magic of television, I whipped out the finished one, and everyone got o enjoy. It was a huge hit, of course!
And the best part – the one I constructed in the class, was mine to take home to make for myself!
And that’s just what I did today.
Try not to lick your computer monitor….
So, since I’m not going to give out the full recipe for this, since it will be in the book, here’s an idea of what you want to do:
-Take a skin-on pork shoulder, and open it up to remove the bone. Sprinkle on lots of salt, pepper and garlic on the inside. Toast some fennel seeds, grind them, and sprinkle them inside too. Lay down some fresh herbs, and wrap the shoulder back up. Place it in the fridge for 1-3 days.
-Unwrap the shoulder, remove the herbs (leave everything else) and re-roll the pork. Score the skin in a cross-hatch pattern, and tie up the roast with twine. Let roast come to room temp for 1 hour.
-Preheat the oven to 550 while the roast is coming to room temp, and place roast in a roasting rack.
-Slip roast into the oven, close the door, and reduce the heat to 325. Let porchetta roast for 3 hours until the internal temp is 150.
-Take it out, let it rest 15 minutes, carve and serve.
It’s about the greatest thing you can do with a pork shoulder short of making my famous Pork Pappardelle Ragu. But that’s another recipe for another time…