The Palladian Traveler welcomes Mark Masone into the stable of Good Chefs. Mark’s first offering is his take on the traditional Italian pork-dish, Porchetta. Along with the recipe, Mark provided us with step-by-step visuals so that we can virtually smack our lips.
Before we head into the kitchen, roll up our sleeves and tie on the apron, let’s meet the man behind this mouth-watering dish.
About “Good Chef” Mark Masone
Mark grew up in a small town in southwest Virginia and attended and graduated from Virginia Tech. It was there, at college, when he started his culinary apprenticeship at a local gastropub alongside his Italian restaurant owner-mentor. After finally mastering the art of making a roux and cubing mire poix to perfect dimensions, the owner allowed him into the inner circle and taught Mark the art of using fresh ingredients, some heat and lots of elbow grease to bring the pub patrons back to fill their bellies.
Cooking is really in Mark’s DNA, as his older brother attended culinary school and is a professional chef. Sibling rivalry aside, big brother has had a direct influence on Mark’s passion for food – preparing and devouring. Mark’s attended culinary classes in Washington, D.C. and Rome, Italy, and, when time permits, he works his magic on the cooktop, in the oven or out on the grill. He’s also an amateur bootlegger, brewing his own homemade beers. When not in the kitchen honing his culinary craft, he keeps a pretty busy schedule with his “day job” as a consultant for Deloitte in the District.
What is Porchetta?
Porchetta is a traditional Italian boneless pork roast. Sorry to be graphic, but the body of the pig is gutted, deboned, arranged carefully with layers of stuffing, meat, fat, and skin, then rolled, spitted, and roasted, traditionally over wood. Porchetta is usually heavily salted in addition to being stuffed with garlic, rosemary, fennel, or other herbs, often wild. Porchetta has been selected by the Italian Ministero delle Politiche Agricole, Alimentari e Forestali (Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry Policies) as a “prodotto agroalimentare tradizionale” (Traditional Agri-Food Product), PAT for short. Porchetta is one of a list of traditional Italian foods to have cultural relevance and is most popular with Romans who enjoy any excuse to head for the Castelli Romani and partake.
Grab an Apron
Now that we know what Porchetta is, let’s gather in the galley with Mark and see how he prepares his version.
MARVELOUS MARK’S PORCHETTA
1 hearty slab of Pork Belly, skin on, from the butcher shop (approximate 10″ x 10″ squared cut)
1 good-sized Pork Tenderloin to fit inside the Pork Belly
2 tablespoons Fennel seeds
1 tablespoon minced Sage
1 preserved Orange minced (feel free to improvise)
2 tablespoons dehydrated Sriracha (or chili flakes)
3 cloves minced Garlic (BAM!)
Salt and Pepper
White Wine for basting
Butcher’s Twine/Kitchen Twine for tying the roll
Prep and cooking time:
45-min. to season and roll the Porchetta
24-48 hours to rest the Porchetta
Slow roasting method 5 hours – Fast roasting method 2 hours
Step-1: Mix all of the spices in a bowl
Step-2: Lay the pork belly and pork tenderloin out on a flat surface
Step-3: Cut half way through the pork belly in a checkerboard fashion to provide tenderness
Step-4: Flip the pork belly on its skin side and remove any hair or nipples
Step-5: Pound the pork belly skin side for about five minutes
Step-6: Randomly score slits all over the pork belly skin to ensure crispiness
Step-7: Rub spices all over the pork belly
Step-8: Place the pork tenderloin on top of the pork belly, skin down
Step-9: Roll and tie the pork belly around the pork tenderloin ensuring the pork belly wraps completely around the pork tenderloin
Step-10: Place the raw, seasoned and rolled Porchetta, uncovered, in the fridge for 24-48 hours
Step-11: Following the cold storage period, you’re now ready to roast the Porchetta. There are two roasting options from which to choose. Option-1 is to roast slowly then high (recommended if you have the time), or Option-2, roast high, low, then high again (quicker roasting method). We’ll explain both.
Slow-Low method: Salt the roll, introduce into oven at 250-dgrees F for two hours. Baste with a glass of white wine, reintroduce into oven at 250-degrees F for three additional hours. Raise oven to 500-degrees F and roast for an additional 10 minutes.
High-Low-High method: Salt the roll, introduce into oven at 500-degrees F for 40 minutes turning once at the 20-minute mark. Baste with a glass of white wine, then reintroduce into oven at 300 degrees F for one hour. Raise oven to 500 degrees F and roast for an additional 10 minutes.
Step-12: Let the Porchetta roll sit for 30 minutes following the above roasting schedule. Slice with a serrated knife and serve.
Recommended Wine Pairing
Fattoria di Rodáno’s Monna Claudia, a Super Tuscan wine (or any other Super Tuscan with a 50/50 blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet). Fattoria di Rodáno is a top source for classically made, user-friendly and complex Chianti. Located in Castellina in the heart of the Chianti Classico district, the estate dates back as a wine-producing property to the 16th century.The Monna Claudia, made only in exceptional vintages of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon, should be decanted well in advance.
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