When I think of a fancy meal, I think of a big roast. With Christmas and New Years behind us, it had me thinking about something less traditional than the standard rib eye / prime rib roast, beef tenderloins, ham or turkeys. What about the ‘other white meat’?
Now I know some aren’t big pork belly fans… but I love it. I can’t say it’s good for you… but what they say is true for me, everything with bacon is better. Pork belly is just unsmoked bacon. It comes with the pork skin on… and done right can be extra crispy and crunchy. It has to be cooked low and slow to break down the fat to that luscious melt in your mouth texture that is pork belly’s signature characteristic. As a main or first course by itself, pork belly can be rich – it is bacon after all. So why not wrap pork belly around lean pork tenderloins to baste the pork tenderloins with the pork belly’s lusciousness.
Let’s make Porchetta – pork tenderloins wrapped in pork belly. Now that’s decadent!
I started with a whole pork belly that I cut cross hatches into and pounded with a (cleaned) hammer to tenderize the pork tenderloin (most people would use the rough side of a meat pounder for this step). On the other side (the skin side) of the pork belly I poked it full of LOTS of holes to let the fat escape.
We then prepared our pork tenderloins by removing all the silverskin, then stuffing them with a stuffing of pear, apple, red peppers, spinach, garlic and a fennel spice.
I seasoned the pork tenderloins and pork belly with a paste of fennel, garlic, crushed red pepper, salt, pepper, and oregano. Then I put very thinly sliced oranges under and on top of the stuffed pork tenderloins.
I wrapped the pork belly around the pork tenderloin and tied it tight with kitchen twine.
Ready for roasting, I let it sit in a roasting pan in the refrigerator for 3 days to allow it to marinate and dry the exterior pork belly skin.
I seasoned the exterior skin and baked in a 500F oven turning it occasionally to evenly brown for 40 minutes. Then I reduced the heat to 300F and continue to turn the roast every 20 -30 minutes for another 2 hours. I then removed and let rest before cutting.
The exterior was wonderfully crispy and the interior lush, tender, and full of flavor. A special occasion roast indeed.