Sunday, 20 May 2012

Porchetta Stuffed Shoulder of Pork

"Pork shoulder stuffed with fennel, bay, rosemary, parsley, sage, garlic and shallot. What more could you want?"

I've already included a recipe on the blog for porchetta style pork pies, so I've exhausted most of my porchetta related chat already (if you haven't read it already check out the post, as it's an excellent recipe completely of my own design!). So what to do? Well if you've read my other recent piece on good food writing you'll have seen that I outlined four options which the writer can go for when introducing a recipe:

1.  A bit of recipe related personal history
2.  Something about the origins of the dish
3. Something completely unrelated
4. Nowt, just launch straight in

Seeing as though option one is out of the window, I've got three to choose from, but how to choose? Paper, scissors, stone? Toss of a coin? I thought I might have a little ace up my sleeve in the form of Alan Davidson's Oxford Companion to Food, which I haven't referred to in a while. Porchetta doesn't feature though, so bang goes any chat about the origins of the dish, and in any case you can look on wikipedia for that if you really want.

So its number three or number four. I'm not sure I can be beefed to make up some load of waffle completely unrelated to the recpie, because, in actual fact, porchetta is such a magnificent dish that it would be a disservice to do so. Ergo its number four.

This is a real feast day recipe and we had it instead of the usual lamb on Easter Sunday this year. Not only does it taste delicious warm with the usual accompaniments to your Sunday lunch, it is just as good thinly sliced and eaten cold in a sandwich, which is often how they do things in Italy.

Pork shoulder stuffed with fennel, bay, rosemary, parsley, sage, garlic and shallot. What more could you want?

Porchetta Stuffed Shoulder of Pork

Serves 8-10

One 3.5-4kg shoulder of pork, the skin scored, boned, and butterflied out (ask your butcher to do this)
4 tsp fennel seeds, dry fried for a couple of mins in a hot pan and ground in a pestle and mortar
4 bay leaves, finely sliced
handful of each rosemary, sage, parsley, all finely chopped
4 shallots, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
olive oil
salt and pepper

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 220c, then start things off with the stuffing mixture. Sweat the shallot garlic, bay and rosemary in a couple of glugs of olive oil over a low heat for 7-10 mins, until the shallots are soft and translucent.
  2. Add the rest of the stuffing mixture to the pan and cook for another 5-7 minutes over a low heat. Put in a bowl and leave to one side while you deal with the pork.
  3. Open out the pork skin side down, season the flesh with plenty of salt and pepper, then spread the stuffing evenly over the surface of the pork.
  4. Here comes the slightly tricky bit, you have to roll up the pork shoulder and tie it using string, so that the stuffing is nicely secured and it is almost cylindrical in shape. 
  5. Put into a roasting tin with the seam on the bottom, wipe the skin dry with a piece of kitchen paper and then season all over with plenty of salt, which will help with the crackling.
  6. Place in the oven for half an hour at 220c, then turn down the heat to 150c and leave to cook slowly for at least 3.5 hours.
  7. When the cooking time is over, take the pork out of the oven a leave to rest for at least 20 minutes before serving. 
  8. You can use this time to make some gravy in the usual way - pour off the fat, add some wine and maybe a touch of water to the tin, incorporating all the nice crusty bits at the bottom and then strain into a clean saucepan, to reduce slightly and season, before serving.
  9. Ideally I'd serve this some greens - purple sprouting broccoli, curly kale, cavolo nero, or cime di rapa and some nice roast potatoes.
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