Porchetta, pronounced and also spelt as “porketta”, is a boneless moist and rich pork roast that is a traditional Italian preparation. A young/suckling pig that is gutted and deboned is stuffed with various herbs such as rosemary, garlic and fennel or other herbs of choice. Traditionally, the stuffed pig is seasoned with a lot of salt and roasted on open fire. A popular variation of the Porchetta recipe includes Porchetta Italiana or Pork Shoulder Stuffed with Herbs. This is also known as Porchetta Style Roast Pork; wherein pork shoulder is stuffed with herbs and roasted over open fire.
Italian immigrants introduced this dish into America around early 20th century, where it is referred as “Italian pulled pork”. This meat is served along with spinach or broccoli raab and provolone cheese on a sandwich. It is popular in many parts of Canada as well, in places such as Northern and Southern Ontario.
As per the records, Porchetta is supposed to have originated in Ariccia, the Province of Rome, in central Italy. This dish is cooked in most Italian households and is also sold by pitchmen on the streets, in white vans and is also sold in “paninos”. This dish is a common sight during public holidays and various public holidays. Along with pecorino romano (sheep cheese), Porchetta is a popular dish served in the Lazio region.
Most Italian immigrants enjoy this dish, especially popular during “Porketta” Bingo, which is a popular activity during Saturday afternoons. People of all age groups participate in this Saturday event and the winner gets to take home 1 pound of the Porketta roast.
Ingredients Used and Method of Preparation
The key ingredients that go into making the roast are suckling pig with the skin and belly attached. Wild fennel pollen, golden raisins, coarsely chopped mustard greens, chopped yellow onions, day-old levain bread (cut into 1 inch squares), extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper are other ingredients required to prepare the dish.
The stuffing is prepared by sautéing onions till they caramelize, along with mustard greens and mixed with bread pieces, fennel seeds and raisins. The cleaned pig is seasoned with salt and pepper and rolled in along with stuffing, skin, and fat and then roasted on a spit or in an oven, depending on the feasibility.
Popular Variations of Porchetta Recipe
- Pork Shoulder Stuffed with Anise, Rosemary and Garlic – This is a popular variation of the original Porchetta. It is made with pork shoulder that is nicely butterflied. The shoulder is cleaned well and seasoned with salt and pepper and topped with the stuffing (made by sautéing and browning onions, Italian sausages, pepper, rosemary, anise and slice garlic). The meat is rolled, while ensuring the stuffing does not come out, and tied with a string, which is then roasted till done. The pork is rested before it is sliced and served.
- Gennaros Stuffed Porchetta – This is another variation of the original porchetta. It is made with pork shoulder that is seasoned with salt and pepper and stuffed with a mixture of sautéed chicken liver, pork mince, raisins, pine nuts, chopped parsley and sage. Red or white wine is added while the meat is being cooked. It is important to ensure that the stuffing is cool, before it is stuffed into the pork shoulder. The meat is rolled tight and roasted in an oven or an open fire. The roast is served with roasted carrots, potatoes and green salad, accompanied by a glass of mulled wine.
- Umbria Porchetta – In this variation of the dish, entrails of the pig are chopped and combined with garlic, salt, pepper, wild fennel and lard and then stuffed into the pig, which is roasted on a spit.
- Porchetta Trevigiana – This is a popular Venetian variation, which was first created in 1919 in Treviso. The meat of young 1 year old piglet is stuffed with salt, pepper, garlic, wild fennel and white wine. The animal is then roasted in an oven.
Porchetta is very high in calories (almost 1004 calories per serving) and cholesterol, which is almost 276 mg. The fat content too is high, which is about 77.8 g per serving.
- The Italian Ministero delle Politiche Agricole, Alimentari e Forestali selected Porchetta as one of the traditional Italian foods to have relevance to the Italian cultural.
- This dish is served during the traditional celebrations of Sagra, a historical event of pageants and sporting events. This tradition is followed every July, in Austin, Texas.
- La Porchetta is a popular Italian restaurant chain in New Zealand and Australia. This restaurant specializes in various Italian dishes such as pastas and pizzas.