Slicing a cooked porcetta


Written by Maria Pasquale, I Heart Rome is an inspiring collection of recipes and stories about the food of the Eternal City.  Pasquale knows Rome well enough to reach out to its chefs, merchants, grandmothers, and master professionals for advice, wisdom, and recipes.  They include Paolo Tocchio whom she introduces in the head-note to this recipe for the traditional slow-roasted pork known as porcetta:

Paolo Tocchio, a butcher from Borbona in Lazio’s Rieti province, shared this recipe with me, thanks to my friend Sabrina Tocchio, Paolo's cousin. The art of butchery has been in his family for generations, and in the winter time he bunkers down to make sausages, guanciale, pancetta and prosciutto. I love eating porchetta on its own, as well as the traditional Roman way — in a panino. City folk flock regularly to the Castelli Romani and in particular to Ariccia, the Lazio town renowned for its porchetta and fraschette, the casual restaurants where porchetta and wine go hand in hand.  



  1. Create a seasoning for the porchetta by blitzing together the salt, rosemary, sage and fennel seeds.
  2. Lay the pork belly on a clean work surface, skin side down, and sprinkle with a generous amount of the seasoning mix. (If you don’t use it all, you can keep it to season meat or fish.)
  3. Without cutting all the way through, slice the pork fillet down the centre lengthways, so that you can open it out like butterfly wings; you can ask your butcher to do this, if you prefer. Place the pork fillet on top of the pork belly, then roll it up, with the pork fillet inside, as tightly as possible. Tie tightly at regular intervals with kitchen string. Pierce the skin with a knife over the entire surface. Wrap the entire porchetta in foil and allow to rest in the fridge overnight, or for at least 6 hours.
  4. Preheat the oven to 220°C (430°F). Add the wine, water, rosemary sprigs and fennel seeds to a roasting tray (or a baking dish) with a roasting rack on top. Place the porchetta, still covered in foil, on the rack part of the tray, so that as the liquid evaporates during cooking it will help to keep the porchetta moist.
  5. Bake for 1 hour, then take the porchetta out of the oven and remove the foil. Place the meat back in the oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 200°C (400°F) and bake for a further 3 hours (calculate 1 hour of cooking time for every 1 kg/ 2 lb 3 oz of meat). If the liquid dries out, top up with more water or wine, and turn the pork every 30 minutes to ensure the skin becomes crispy and ‘crackles’. Remove from the oven and allow to rest before carving.

From I Heart Rome: Recipes & Stories of the Eternal City by Maria Pasquale.  Photography by Andrea Federici and Giogia Nofrini.  © 2017.  Published by Smith Street Books.  Published with permission.





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