- 1 Whole Pork Belly, deboned, skin on. You want to find the widest piece possible so you can roll it up nicely – your butcher is your best bet. (aim for around 3.5kg, which will serve 10 hungry people easily.)
- 2 tablespoons Fennel Pollen (if you can’t get this, or find it a bit expensive, Fennel Seeds are just as nice crushed)
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped sage
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
- A quarter of a grated nutmeg (about a heaped teaspoon)
- zest of 1 orange
- zest of 1 lemon
- A generous pinch of good quality sea-salt
- 3 tablespoons freshly ground Black Pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried red chilli flakes
Lay the pork belly out flat, skin side down. First, we want to make a border of extra skin that can cover the ends of the meat when rolled up. To do this, find the 2 longer sides of the pork belly and carefully cut in a straight line along that side 3 inches in from the edge. You want to cut down all the way to the skin but not through it. Then, slicing parallel to the skin, remove this piece of meat from the rest of the belly and set aside. Repeat on the opposite edge. Once completed, you should have two long straight pieces of meat set aside, whilst your whole pork belly should have two edges of just skin and fat.
That’s the complicated bit done. Now, sprinkle almost all your herbs, spices and salt onto the flesh side of the belly (NB, the quantities will obviously need to vary depending on the size of your pork belly – you want enough to create a nice blanket of herbs and seasonings on all of the pork meat. Take the leftover seasonings and sprinkle them onto the strips of meat you removed from the belly, rolling them on the board to ensure an even coating.
Place the 2 strips of meat in the middle of the pork belly in a perpendicular direction to where you removed them from. If they’re too long, trim them so they match the width of the meat.
Now, roll up the pork belly with the two strips of meat inside nice and tightly – hopefully, the skin should meet perfectly – if it overlaps, trim away some of the skin until you’ve reached the right length.
Using your butchers twine, tie up the porchetta into a tight cylinder.
Using your twine and needle, sew up the seam of the pork belly, starting at one side – this is where your overlapping skin comes in handy – and working all the way around. Try to keep it as neat as possible but don’t worry too much as long as you maintain that cylinder shape as best you can.
With a sharp pointed knife, stab the porchetta a lot of times all over the skin – this will allow fat to render out during cooking and give you nice crackling.
Put the whole porchetta uncovered in the fridge for at least 8 hours – this will dry it out and help give great crackling. Bring back to room temperature before cooking.
If you have a rotisserie stand for your oven, secure the porchetta to it. If not, place it on a trivet above a deep oven tray to catch all those lovely juices and fats rendering out (you can roast your potatoes in this tray later).
Preheat your oven to 140 degrees and pop the porchetta in for some slow, long roasting. This will take 4-6 hours depending on the size. When the meat feels super tender to touch, turn your oven up as high as it will go and give the porchetta a blast for the last 30 minutes of cooking, or as long as it takes to get the skin crispy. If any stubborn bits of skin remain rubbery, you can remove these when you carve the meat and pop them under a hot grill to crisp up.
Leave the Porchetta to rest for about 30 minutes, then cut through your butcher’s twine and carve it up into generous slices – you should see a lovely ‘swiss roll’ kind of swirl through each slice.
Serve with all your normal Christmas dinner favourites, pull your crackers, put your hats on and enjoy an Italian style feast – Buon Natale!