Ever since I had heard of porchetta, I have lusted after it. A whole pig stuffed with garlic, herbs, and other seasonings? Yes, please! It’s almost like an Italian version of barbeque.
Despite my pretensions, there’s no way I’m going to cook a whole pig, particularly in my small apartment kitchen. I don’t think it would fit in my oven for one.
This isn’t a real porchetta. Given I have no baseline for real porchetta, I don’t even know how it compares. It is, however, good and I think it might be a good approximation.
I waited to make this until I had a “special occasion” (a.k.a. when it would be more than just Angela and I for dinner). The opportunity presented itself when my parents came to visit.
This is actually a great meal to make when having company. While it takes a long time to cook (and does require advanced preparation), it requires little in the way of real work. Most of the cooking is done unattended and only needs to be checked on once every hour or so. Having a whole meal in one dish doesn’t hurt.
The only proof you should need that the mock porchetta is good is that my mother asked for a copy of the recipe.
I served the mock porchetta with a homemade baguette and a bottle of 2004 Dopff & Irion Riesling Schoenenbourg. Dessert was homemade orange ice cream.
Adapted from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook: A Compendium of Recipes and Cooking Lessons from San Francisco’s Beloved Restaurant
1 2-1/2 to 3 lbs. pork butt roast
1 tbsp capers, rinse, soaked, dried and chopped
1 tsp chopped lemon zest
3 garlic cloves, coarsley chopped
12 fresh sage leaves, crushed and chopped
2 sprigs rosemary, leaves stripped and chopped
2 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 lbs. peeled and sliced potatoes, carrots, and red onions
2/3 cup pork stock or chicken stock
2 tbsp dry vermouth
- In a bowl, combine the capers, lemon zest, garlic, herbs, fennel seeds, and pepper in a small bowl. Mix well.
- Trim all but 1/4″ of fat off the sides of the pork butt. Cut into the pork butt to open up as much surface area as possible while only opening up natural seams in the meat. (If you use a portion near the bone, the natural pocket left by the bone may suffice for this portion).
- Season the inside of the pork with salt evenly. Rub the herb mixture all over the inside of the pork. Season the outside of the pork.
- Tie the pork to form a uniform shape.
- Cover the pork and allow to sit in the refrigerator for 1 to 3 days.
- Remove the pork an hour before cooking to allow it to come to room temperature.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Toss the vegetables in a minimum of olive oil, so that they are barely coated. Season with a few pinches of salt.
- Heat a dutch oven over medium heat until hot. Add the pork roast and surround with the vegetables.
- Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour.
- After an hour, turn over the meat and rotate the vegetables.
- Bake for 1 hour more.
- Add 1/3 cup of the stock, return to the oven, and bake for 15 to 30 minutes more, to 185°F.
- Remove from the oven. Remove the pork and vegetables, cover with aluminum foil.
- Deglaze the dutch oven with the vermouth and remaining stock. Bring to a simmer and scrape any browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Simmer to reduce the sauce slightly.
- Slice the pork and serve garnished with the vegetables and sauce.
Serves 4 to 6.