Your Next Incredible Holiday Meal: Stuffed Italian Porchetta
“I’ll never forget my first porchetta. The place was the medieval town of San Gimigniano, near Sienna . The occasion: a weekly Tuscan outdoor food market. A large crowd gathered in front of a white truck, where one Aiello Rosario and his wife Lucia D’Ambrosio from Florence fired up a large mobile wood-burning rotisserie. Their specialty: a whole young hog that had been artfully boned, stuffed with a pungent paste of garlic and rosemary, and roasted over an oak fire. I jumped in line and was rewarded with an herb-scented, meltingly tender pork sandwich—some of the best roast pork I ever tasted.”
Steven Raichlen wrote these words in his book, The Barbecue Bible, and I’ve been obsessed with porchetta (pronounced ‘pork-ketta’) ever since. But I had never actually cooked one myself. Until recently that is, when I received a boned pork shoulder from the premium meat purveyor D’Artagnan.
Porchetta is a traditional Italian dish that is made from a deboned pork that is roasted slowly. In some regions, the pork is stuffed with a variety herbs, and possibly liver, and even pigs chopped entrails and lard. If the pork is stuffed the mixture is based on what is available locally.
Porchetta was introduced to the United States by Italian immigrants. It was often referred to as Italian pulled pork, roast pork, or Italian roast pork. Making a sandwich with the roasted pork, greens, and cheese is a favorite way to eat porchetta.
D’Artagnan sent me a porcelet boneless shoulder picnic. It is one of their newest and most popular items. The boneless shoulder comes with the skin attached, making this perfect for this Florentine specialty. The Yorkshire pigs are fed a fat-controlled formula that is fortified with vitamins and minerals. There are no added antibiotics, hormones, or growth stimulants. The meat is air-chilled, which concentrates the flavor and helps crisp the skin. The creamy fat produces extremely tender pork.
I decided to stuff the porchetta. After researching all the commonly used ingredients I came up with my own stuffing. One of my selections might be a surprise!
To start, I removed the netting holding the pork shoulder together. Once the netting was removed the porcelet rolled open, I scored the skin to help release the fat while roasting.
The porchetta was stuffed with an herb paste consisting of fresh rosemary, sage, parsley, garlic, fennel seeds, lemon zest, orange zest, coarse sea salt, and coarsely ground black pepper. All the ingredients were placed in the food processor and blended with olive oil. I then mixed in diced pancetta into the herb paste. The paste was then spread inside of the porchetta. It was then rolled up and tied off. Wrapped in plastic wrap, the porchetta rested in the refrigerator overnight.
The next day, I I set up my kettle grill for indirect grilling and attached the rotisserie ring. I then added wood chunks to each charcoal basket to create smoke. I felt the slow turning of the rotisserie would allow the fat to melt and baste the pork.
The porchetta roasted for two hours. I checked it every thirty minutes to make sure the skin was not burning. Cooking the porchetta on the rotisserie was close to “set it and forget it” since the melting fat basted the pork.
The porchetta was sliced once it rested. It was tender and juicy due to the melting fat. I could see the juice ooze from the porchetta as I sliced it. The herb paste was flavorful and fresh due to the lemon and orange zest. The porchetta benefited from the herb paste and seasonings, but the pork was so tasty by itself, it could be prepared simply with salt and pepper. I enjoyed the subtle smoky aroma created by cooking the porchetta on the rotisserie with wood chunks.
Porchetta can be served as a celebratory dish or an everyday meal. It doesn’t matter! When you serve porchetta, it will be delicious! My family loved the porcelet boneless shoulder from D’Artagnan.
More Porchetta Recipes
- Porchetta (Italian Garlic and Herb Stuffed Pork Loin)
- Yankee Porchetta: “Pork And Beans”
- Porchetta with Blueberries and Hazelnuts
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