Summer Food: Recipes for a summer supper 


Porcetta Sandwich

Porcetta Sandwich

Porcetta tucked into a crusty roll is Italy’s contribution to popular sandwich culture and found at food stalls all over Italy. Porcetta’s origins however came from a simpler time, farmer’s fare of succulent slow cooked pork oozing with the flavors of fennel, garlic, and wild herbs usually served as a part of a community gathering.

The recipe that follows is a my own variation of  Porcetta that I have served often for casual gatherings. It is easy to prepare ahead and always a favorite!, making plenty as it is just too good to resist a second serving.

Porcetta Sandwich; slow roasted pork with fennel serves 10 preheat oven to 325F/165C   Have ready a roasting pan fitted with a roasting rack.

  • 4 pound boneless pork shoulder or butt roast (marbled fat is essential) Butterfly the pork roast and pound it to flatten it out evenly. Set aside. 

For the stock:

  • trimmings from the fennel bulbs
  • 1 onion diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups water 

Trim the fennel bulbs, pulling off the outer stalks and trimming off the stems with frowns. Place the trimmings in a large sauce pan, adding chopped onion, crushed garlic cloves, peppercorns, bay leaves, rosemary, salt, and water. Heat to a simmer and reduce by half while you are preparing the sautéed fennel and the roast rub.

Stuffing for the pork roast:

  • 2 fennel bulbs, trimmed (as described above) and very thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, bashed a bit
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary spikes
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chopped oregano leaves
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • olive oil for sautéing
  • 1/2 cup white wine 

Place some olive oil in a saute pan and when hot add the sliced fennel, sliced onion, slice garlic, fennel seeds, rosemary, oregano, salt and freshly ground pepper. Saute over low heat until the fennel becomes soft and translucent. Add the white wine and continue to cook until the fennel is very soft. Remove from heat and cool. Set aside 2 tablespoons of the sauteed fennel mixture to add to the roast rub.

For the rub:

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sauteed fennel /onion mixture, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper 

To make the rub combine the tomato paste, brown sugar, 2 tablespoons minced fennel/onion mixture, anchovy paste, salt and pepper. Mix together. Before roasting the pork rub the mixture onto the roast and massage it evenly all over the surface with your hands.

Once the fennel stuffing mixture has cooled place it over the entire surface of the butterflied pork and roll it up and tie with cotton string to hold the roast together while cooking.

Place the roast on the rack (brushed with olive oil) in the roasting pan. Pour enough of the fennel stock into the roasting pan that it nearly reaches the rack. Place the roast in the center position in the oven and roast for 1 hour. Turn the roast on its side, and add additional fennel stock as needed. Repeat turning the roast a quarter turn each hour, adding more stock as needed. Total cooking time should be about 4 hours. The surface of the roast will become quite browned. Cover loosely with foil if it is browning too much. Remove the roast from the oven, place on a platter, and allow to rest for 20 minutes, covered with foil and kitchen towel.

Meanwhile, deglaze the roasting pan on top of the stove, adding the remaining stock and reducing it down to a dense sauce.

For the rolls:

  • 10 crusty rolls, sliced in half
  • extra virgin olive oil for brushing
  • garlic cloves for rubbing
  • sea salt
  • shaved Parmegiano to top the pork (optional, but very good!)

Slice the rolls in half and brush the cut side with olive oil and place in the oven at 325F/165C until lightly toasted. Remove from the oven and rub each cut side with a garlic clove. Salt lightly and set aside. This may be done ahead of time and stored in an air tight container.

Serving:Remove the sting from the roast and carve the pork into very thin slices and set aside, covered.. Dip both cut side halves of each roll into the pan sauce and generously pile the roasted pork into crusty rolls, topping the pork with shaved Parmegiano (optional). Serve at once with extra pan sauce on the table to  drizzle over the pork if desired. Keep the remaining pork in the oven, warm and ready for seconds requests!



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