This easy roast porchetta recipe is sure to impress. With crispy crackling and seasoned mushroom, barley and mixed veggies, it’s a flavour sensation.
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You’ve probably heard of porchetta – it’s popping up on topnotch restaurant menus all over the place. But what is porchetta? Literally, it translates from the Italian as “little pig” and it is indeed pork. Porchetta is roasted pork, in fact, but not exactly the Sunday roast we’re familiar with here in Australia. In Italy, it can be either a whole suckling pig or rolled pork belly porchetta, sometimes with a pork loin in the middle, and it’s almost always served in a fresh, crusty panino. No need for sugar-laden barbecue sauces or lettuce or pickles: the flavour-filled porchetta, roasted slowly with its rind on, is all that’s required.
According to sources, the Umbria, Lazio and Abruzzo regions of central Italy all lay claim to moist, fragrant porchetta. In fact, every year since 1950 the Lazio town of Ariccia has hosted the Sagre della Porchetta, a festival dedicated to this delicacy. The pork is flavoured with various aromatics depending on the region: rosemary, garlic, citrus, fennel seeds, fennel pollen and peppercorns are common. What makes it so special is the contrasting textures: the crisp crackling, the juicy meat, the tender fat all combine to make a true hero of a dish.
Although it’s often a street-food treat consumed inside a halved panino, porchetta can also be served as a main meal with accompanying “contorni”, or sides. Here, we’ve created a delicious “cucina povera” (peasant-style, literally “poor kitchen”) accompaniment of barley flavoured with porcini mushrooms and cooked in the oven alongside the pork. The beauty of this recipe is the leftovers can be used to make tomorrow’s lunchtime sandwiches.
Buying a pre-prepared porchetta is an excellent shortcut. We assume you weren’t planning to debone a whole pig, but this ready-rolled porchetta recipe also means you don’t need to buy bunches of herbs and finely mince your aromatics before spreading them over the pork. That’s all done for you, as well as the rolling and tying.
What you will need to do is be a little bit patient. Place the porchetta on a plate lined with paper towel and leave it, uncovered, in the fridge overnight. This will dry out the rind, helping it to become the crispiest, most golden rind it can be.
Preheat the oven to 230°C then spray the porchetta with olive oil and season with salt. Place it in the oven for half an hour or until the rind begins to crackle, then turn the temperature down to 180 degrees.
While this is happening, begin preparing your barley and mushroom accompaniment, soaking the porcini mushrooms in water for 15 minutes. Porcini can be found fresh in the Northern Hemisphere, but here they’re much more common dried, hence the rehydration. They provide an earthy, savoury, umami flavour – almost meaty in quality – and take this barley dish to richer depths.
Heat an ovenproof frying pan – this is important because you’ll need to place the pan in the oven – over a medium heat and cook your brown mushrooms first, then the other vegies, before returning the brown mushrooms to the pan along with the porcini, complete with its soaking water (it’s full of flavour), barley, stock, wine and orange juice. Bring the mixture to the boil then transfer the pan to the oven, cooking the pork and the barley mixture for a further 45 minutes to one hour or until the pork is cooked through and the barley is tender to the bite.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves – a little more patience is required. Let the porchetta rest, covered with foil, for at least 15 minutes before thickly slicing. Stir the creme fraiche or sour cream into the barley mixture and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the mixture onto plates and arrange slices of porchetta on top.
Making porchetta is a pretty simple process, but there are a few tips and tricks that will ensure porchetta perfetta.
Now you’re ready to cook, but what to serve with porchetta? Well, our mushroom barley is a wonderful option for a cold winter’s night, but why stop there? Consider potatoes roasted with rosemary, a shaved fennel salad with parmesan, and some fresh tomatoes, thickly sliced and dressed simply with olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper.
Want to try your hand at some more pork porchetta recipes, or roast pork? Try an Asian take with Courtney Roulston’s Chinese slow roast pork shoulder with smashed cucumber, or a traditional Sunday roast with Curtis Stone’s roast pork with no-fail crackling and apple jelly gems. Employ a different cooking method and come up with Curtis Stone’s pulled pork with cabbage slaw (this is also excellent sandwiched between crusty bread).
Energy: 2452kJ/587 Cals (28%)
Protein: 37g (74%)
Fat: 33g (47%)
Sat fat: 13g (54%)
Carb: 28g (9%)
Sugar: 7g (8%)
Fibre: 7g (23%)
Sodium: 855mg (43%)