I am so thrilled to share today’s post with you! This is a special, fancy-pants recipe befitting your holiday tables come Thursday. I had a blast cooking and serving it, and it is such a pleasure to eat, too. I think it would be amazing for a main event at your Christmas dinner table!
If you’re unfamiliar, Eataly is an enormous Italian foods emporium that was founded back in Italy, but thanks to the likes of Mario Batali and Lydia Bastianich, I have access to one about twenty minutes away from my apartment. Eataly is a sight. Part grocery store, part take-out restaurant, part sit-down restaurant, part wine bar, part bookstore, and part cooking supply store, this monstrosity is usually quite crowded but always worth fighting your way through. The food is delicious and you can spend hours shopping. The next time you visit New York, put this at the top of your to-see list!
Eataly is famous for their porchetta, a traditional Italian pork dish that was originally made by hacking off the part of the pig that is the loin with the pork belly attached. It served dozens. Eataly realized the inherent impracticalities for us home cooks, and simplified the process. You simply ask your butcher for a boneless pork loin, plus a slab of butterflied pork belly, each cut the same length. You wrap the pork loin with the belly, securing with kitchen twine, and the end effect is the same. Just much more doable, both on the shopping and the cooking end.
And it’s so delicious, I can’t even tell you. You can leave the rub a little rustic and chunky, as I did, or you can grind it down fine in a spice grinder. If you’re not a pepper person, I’d recommend going to the fine grind.
This is one of those memorable meals everyone will still be talking about months, possibly even years later. It’s an impressive sight when served, and the taste and texture measure up to its stellar looks. It’s one of those special meals we don’t have every day, or even every month. It’s one to savor, and linger over with a glass of wine. It’s one to share with those you love most dearly, or to celebrate those you don’t see often enough. I hope you all enjoy this one!
Source: slightly adapted from Meat: Everything You Need to Know by Pat LaFrieda
¼ cup fennel seeds
¼ cup black peppercorns
¼ cup kosher salt
1 (8-inch long) center cut boneless pork loin (about 3 ½ lbs.)
1 (8-inch) pork belly, butterflied in half horizontally (have your butcher do this)
2 tbs olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste
Working in batches, grind the fennel seeds and black peppercorns in a spice grinder until as coarse or as fine as you like. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the salt.
Lay the pork belly flat on a cutting board, skin side down. Generously spread the fennel rub all over the side facing up. Place the pork loin on the belly so that the long side of the loin is lined up with one of the 8-inch sides of the belly. Roll the belly and loin together so the belly meets up again and covers the pork loin. Tie it tightly at one end with kitchen twine, then tie it again at the opposite end. Now make ties at 1-inch intervals between the two ends. Rub the tied porchetta all over with olive oil, and sprinkle all over with kosher salt. Wrap the porchetta tightly in plastic wrap, then put it in a resealable plastic bag. Refrigerate for 24 hours, or at least overnight.
When ready to roast the porchetta, preheat your oven to 400 F.
Place the porchetta on a rack in a roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet and roast until a meat thermometer inserted into the center registers 135 F, about 2 to 2 ½ hours. Remove the porchetta from the oven and adjust the oven temperature to the HIGH Broiler setting. Return the porchetta to the oven and broil until the skin is golden and crispy, about 8 minutes. Use tongs to turn the porchetta every 2 minutes. Let the porchetta rest about 15 minutes before slicing.
To serve, slice the porchetta however thick or thin you want. I’d recommend leaving the kitchen twine on, even as you slice it as this will help hold the porchetta together.
Leftovers reheat beautifully in a 350 F oven, about 10-15 minutes for slices, either on their own or used in sandwiches!