Finally - the porchetta post

12/07/2009

Where do I start?

The porchetta post took shape somewhere last year, when I realised that my local deli stocked porchetta. I hadn't eaten it in aeons and once I introduced my SO to this delicacy, she was of course convinced that I had been hiding this delectable pork dish from here on purpose.

Then we travelled to Italy and on my first day, I entered a little family restaurant, where they just served the last sandwich with porchetta. It was a weekend, I was hungry, my nostrils and taste buds suffered. We then hit up Dario Cecchini's butcher shop in Panzano, where I became convinced that I could and would give up an arm, a leg and maybe even my first-born for his arista di porchetta... subsequently, everywhere I looked during our trip, there was porchetta.... gorgeous pork, whole loins, shoulders of pork, whole pigs even, stuffed with fennel and other delicious herbs.

And thus, when I returned and realised that life in Belgium meant being separated from one of my favourite dishes in the world, I felt that I had to try my hand at it at least once.

Matters were complicated by the secret ingredient, fennel pollen, which is hugely expensive and naturally hard to find. Literally an hour, before I was ready to start preparing it, on a Sunday, I finally found the elusive stuff only to discover that I could lay my greedy hands on it on... Monday. A small defeat, but at least now I know where to get it.

And so, a pork loin was procured from the Irish organic butcher. It was butterflied and the fat removed.

I then proceeded to hem and haw for one day about which herbs I would or would not use. I finally decided rosemary was in, bay out and that my secret ingredient would be Dario's salt, which does contain fennel pollen.

After a slight battle with a loin and a lot of string, this is what the result looked like, pre-oven.

Don't be fooled by the clean kitchen surface. I actually did tidy everything up before daring to take this photo.

As the pork and the herbs started to do their magic in the oven, I realised, 1.5 hr in, that the scent of garlic and herbs was familiar to the scent of the fresh porchetta that I tried in a farmer's market in Florence.

And here you have it: the final product.

Served with loads of raw vegetables (fennel, celery, carrots, cherry tomatoes, good bread, olive oil and Dario's salt for dipping).

A delicious dinner was had by all.

Next time: with fennel pollen. And maybe a different cut of pork.

4 messages:

deboo said...

Ah, I can smell it from here. (I wish!!) Wonderful post. I was almost there with you...

You must go into more detail. How did you put it all together? Did you rub the garlic in, or mince it and roll it in with the herbs? I've never had Porchetta, but would love to give it a go!

Milo said...

I love pork! Looks delicious.

Vikki said...

It looks amazing!

Lula de Montes said...

@deb I sliced the garlic very finely and then rolled it in with the herbs. I know for a fact they have fennel pollen in California in whole food stores.
@milo: same here - adore pork.
@vikki: personally we thought it tasted amazing too, but then again, we were hungry?

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