Wind your way through the cobblestone alleyways of Umbria and Lazio, and your nose will inevitably lead you to a porchetta. A rich, crackling-wrapped roast of pork, rubbed with fennel and rosemary, slow-roasted and basted with its own fat, the porchetta sits on the counter of many a backstreet deli in central Italy, waiting to be sliced thin and stuffed into crusty rolls, wrapped in butcher paper with the savory juices running through, a portar via. At our house, the porchetta is just the thing for a holiday week. It’s grand and impressive as the centerpiece of a meal, beautifully sliced on the buffet, and perhaps even more generous as we all come and go, wanting a nibble with our drinks or a quick lunch between shopping and wrapping. Cooking for a houseful of folks is one of the great joys of the holiday season–leave it to the Italians to really get it right.
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adapted from PorchettaNYC.com
1 6-10 pound boneless porchetta roast
1 bunch fresh sage, leaves picked
1/2 bunch fresh thyme, leaves removed
4 leafy sprigs rosemary, stemmed
6 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
3 tablespoons fennel pollen
3 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup dry red or white wine
Heat oven to 250ºF.
Open up roast on a large cutting board and with a sharp knife, score pork skin in a crosshatch diamond pattern, making 1/8-inch- deep cuts, about 1 inch apart.
In a small food processor, pulse thyme, sage, rosemary, and garlic together, then place mixture in a small bowl, add fennel pollen, olive oil, salt, and pepper and stir together well. Set aside
Flip roast over, and with the tip of a small paring knife, make small incisions (about 1/2-inch deep) all over the meat side of the roast. Rub about 1/2 of herb mixture on this side. Roll up tightly and tie roast with kitchen twine. Rub skin side with remaining herb mixture, getting it deep into the cross hatch cuts.
Set pork in a roasting pan, fat-side up. Roast for 2 hours. Pour the wine over the pork and baste with the wine and accumulated juices. Continue roasting, basting once every hour, until the skin is well browned and the meat is spoon tender, 3-5 hours more, until internal temperature reaches180ºF and meat is tender. Remove from oven. Let meat rest 15 minutes before slicing and serving.