Although turkey, goose, duck and rib of beef are excellent choices for Christmas Day, we sometimes like to have something a bit different. And, with a flavoursome and spiced stuffing, the porchetta is a great choice – one that is regularly served at Christmas in Italy.
Traditionally porchetta isn’t served with a sauce, aside from a little salsa verde, but some might feel that’s a step too far for Christmas dinner. Just remember that the pork belly is a fatty cut so make sure you skim the fat from the juices if you decide to make a gravy.
1kg boned and rolled loin of pork, string removed
2.5kg rectangular piece of boneless pork belly – make sure it will wrap around the loin
10 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp ground black pepper
Zest of one lemon
2 tbsp salt
2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary and/or thyme leaves
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 tbsp plain flour
200ml white wine
800ml vegetable stock
1) Combine the garlic, fennel seeds, chilli, black pepper, lemon zest, salt, fresh herbs and oil together to make a paste. Add a little more oil if needed.
2) Place the belly, skin side down, on a flat surface and make scores into the flesh with a sharp knife.
3) Rub the paste into the meat then sit the loin, skin side down, in the middle of the belly.
4) Roll the belly around the loin and tie tightly using butcher’s string. Aim to string the meat at around 5cm intervals as this will help the meat keep its shape when cooking.
5) Place the meat on a plate and leave it to sit, skin side up and uncovered, in the fridge overnight, or for at least 8 hours. Keeping the meat uncovered will allow the skin to dry which will help it crisp up in the oven.
6) When you’re ready to cook, preheat your oven to 220C or Gas Mark 7.
7) Take the meat out of the fridge and dry it off with kitchen roll.
8) Place the rolled meat on a rack in a roasting tray and roast for 30 minutes or until a nice golden layer of crackling has started to form.
9) Turn the oven down to 160C or Gas Mark 3 and roast for a further 4 hours.
10) Remove from the oven, place the meat on a plate and allow it to rest in a warm place for 20-30 minutes.
11) If you’re making gravy skim the fat from the juices on the bottom of the tray. Alternatively pour everything into a fat separator jug, wait for the fat to separate and pour the juices back into the tray.
12) Place the roasting tray, with the cooking juices, over a low heat and stir in the flour to form a paste, adding more flour if necessary.
13) Mix the stock and wine together and pour into the flour mix very slowly, stirring all the while to prevent lumps.
14) Once you’ve used all the stock and wine, leave the gravy to simmer gently for 10 minutes, adding a little water if it thickens too much.
15) Slice the porchetta and serve with your choice of trimmings and a drizzle or two of the gravy.