Festive flavors provide the recipe for perfect pork
Published: October 7, 2011
When it comes to pleasing a holiday gathering of carnivores, this recipe is as close to surefire as you can get. Porchetta is a classic Italian pork preparation – some call it “Italian pulled pork” – that can be as simple as a tenderloin stuffed with garlic, rosemary and olive oil, or as elaborate as a boned and butterflied roast rolled with a layer of cooked meat filling.
Photo by John & Tanya Back
Not surprisingly, I usually opt for the latter, particularly at holiday times. It may seem unusual to stuff two meats into pork, but consider it a creative turducken, replete with fresh herbs, white wine, pine nuts and dried apricots for a bright hint of chewy sweetness.
Once the pork is stuffed and cooked, it’s amazingly versatile. You can eat it hot, cold or lukewarm. Try it sliced on plates with your favorite holiday side dishes, or stuff it hot into a crusty roll (ciabatta is typical in Italy) for the most amazing pork sandwich of your life.
Makes 10–12 servings
1 7-pound pork shoulder, boned and butterflied
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 large yellow onions, diced small
8 ounce chicken livers, coarsely chopped
8 ounces ground pork
1 cup flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
1 cup fresh sage, coarsely chopped
1 cup dried apricots, coarsely chopped
½ cup pine nuts (or chopped walnuts)
1 cup white wine
1. Preheat a gas grill on high with the lid closed, or
prepare a large charcoal fire. On a clean work surface, spread out the pork shoulder. Rub both sides of the meat generously with salt and pepper.
2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil and cook the onions until they’re tender and translucent, 6–7 minutes. Add the chicken livers and ground pork. Cook until the meat starts to brown, about 5 minutes.
3. Add the remaining ingredients, and toss to combine. Bring to a boil just to let most of the wine evaporate. The mixture should be moist but not wet. (You want the meat to roast, not steam.)
4. Spread the mixture across the inside surface of the pork. Roll the roast tightly like a jelly roll, and tie it closed with kitchen string. You don’t have to make a perfect butcher’s knot; just tie circles of string about 2 inches apart down the length of the roast. Rub the outside of the roast with olive oil.
5. Turn off one side of the grill, and lower the other burner to medium; or move coals to one side of the grill to create an area with indirect heat. Put a disposable roasting pan under the grilling surface to catch any drips, and lay a sheet of foil slightly larger than the rolled roast directly on the grill rack.
6. Lay the tied roast on the foil and cook, turning the roast every 30 minutes or so. Keep the temperature at 350–375º F, adding chimney-started charcoals (for a charcoal grill) as needed, until the center of the interior is 145º F on an instant-read thermometer. This can take 1½–2½ hours, depending on the roast’s thickness and the consistency of your grill temperature.
7. Let the finished roast rest on a serving platter for at least 15 minutes before slicing. Serve hot, warm or cold.