Inspired by Porchetta

Sunday nights at our house never really conform to the idea of a traditional British Roast dinner, but there are times, especially when the evenings become chilly and dark early, that a roast joint of meat is exactly what is required. I’m a great lover of long slow roasts which can go into the oven mid afternoon and then the accompaniments are done in the last hour before eating. I bought this lovely rolled shoulder of pork yesterday (from M&S) , and having recently watched a programme about regional Italian cooking, I was inspired to create a roast pork with those classic flavours of Porchetta. Porchetta is traditionally a rolled belly and loin of pork, stuffed with the liver, wild fennel, garlic and other herbs and spices, and roasted for a long time over a spit. It is aromatic and moist with a crispy skin, and is normally served as as a roast or as a sandwich in crusty bread.

I love cooking (and eating) pork shoulder. It is an economical cut of meat which with long slow cooking becomes moist and flavourful, taking on the marinade or aromatics that are cooked with it. I often use it for pulled pork – marinated with a spicy rub, then slow roasted for 2 – 3 hours, before uncovering, shredding and mixing with a little barbecue sauce (not necessarily homemade!)

Inspired by Porchetta…… fennel seeds, garlic, fresh rosemary, coarse salt and black peppercorns. NB – total cooking time will be approx 3 hours.

1 joint of rolled Pork Shoulder with the skin (about 1.8kg)

1 Tbs Fennel seeds

2 cloves garlic – roughly crushed

3 sprigs of fresh rosemary – chopped

1 Tbs coarse salt

1 Tbs Black peppercorns

Combine all the herbs/salt/pepper together in a pestle and mortar to crush them and create a rough paste.

Pat the skin of the pork dry, turn it upside down onto a paper towel and begin to massage the herb mixture into the meat. You should be able to get some of this paste into the centre of the joint, and under the skin. Don’t remove the string though as it will hold it all together. Leave to marinate for at least 2 hours, ideally without covering the skin so that it will dry a little.

Preheat the oven to 200C. Sprinkle a little salt onto the skin and rub it in – this will help produce a crispy crackling. Put the pork into the oven on the high heat for one hour and then turn it down to 160C for another 2 hours. If the skin isn’t turning into crackling quick enough, I sometimes cheat and flash it under the grill for a couple of minutes until I see it bubbling up.

After approx 2 hours, take the meat out of the oven to rest for 15 minutes. If you want to serve this with gravy, then use the pan juices to make it. I’m not a gravy fan, so we tend to leave that out!

Serve with accompaniments of your choice – we had roasted sweet potatoes, boiled new potatoes and purple sprouting broccoli… as well as dijon mustard. Simple and delicious!



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