How to Make Perfect Porchetta with Crispy Skin | Homemade Porchetta Recipe
Porchetta is slow-roasted pork, seasoned with savory herbs and encased in a shell of crispy skin. It’s a classic in the area around Rome and makes one of the best sandwiches in the world. Traditionally, porchetta is made using an entire de-boned pig! But don’t worry, here we’ll share one of the easiest ways to make homemade porchetta without sacrificing any flavor or texture.
Which Meat to Use for Homemade Porchetta
Other than the meat, the ingredients needed for porchetta are very easy to find; you probably have most of them in your pantry right now. The trickier part is sourcing the right cut of meat.
You’ll want to find a rectangular section of pork belly. It’s very important that the belly still has the skin on—the best part of porchetta is the crispy skin! If possible, try to find a belly that still has a little bit of loin meat attached. If you can’t, the recipe will still work just fine.
We’ve had success finding skin-on pork belly at Asian markets. Otherwise, check with your local butcher. For larger cuts we’ve sometimes had to place special orders, but they’re happy to oblige!
How Much Meat?
The pork belly can really be any size you want, but we encourage considering a smaller piece of meat. While most recipes call for a 5+ pound pork belly, we’ve started making mini porchette with bellies that weigh 2.5 pounds maximum.
There are several advantages to making a “mini” porchetta. For starters, it cooks a lot faster. A 2.5 pound pork belly can roast in about 90 minutes, whereas a 5 pounder can take 3 or more hours to reach the right temperature. Furthermore, a smaller porchetta has a greater ratio of crispy skin to meat—never a bad thing.
Finally, a mini porchetta opens the door to the best way we’ve found of achieving perfect, crispy skin: air frying. An air fryer’s convection heating system is well-suited to the task and makes it easier to achieve consistent results than a lot of home ovens. However, air fryers obviously have limited capacity so the method only works with a small porchetta.
How to Season and Prep the Porchetta
The first step is to trim the pork belly. First, roll the rectangle of meat up (like a tight carpet). This is a good time to visualize how big the finished porchetta will be and determine how well it will fit into your cooker of choice. Inevitably, some of the pork skin will end up wound inside the rolled porchetta. Take note of where the covered skin begins, then carefully trim this section of skin off, leaving the fat and meat intact. Skin cooked inside the meat will never get crispy!
Thoroughly rub the whole pork belly on all sides with extra-virgin olive oil. Season the meat side with plenty of salt, black pepper, 2-3 cloves of chopped garlic, rosemary, and fresh chopped fennel fronds. Roll the porchetta back up and tightly tie it shut with butcher twine. There’s no right way to tie it up, just make sure it’s tight and solid.
Rub the outside of the porchetta once again with olive oil. Place the porchetta in the fridge, uncovered, and let it rest overnight. This will dry out the skin and help to make it even crispier in the end.
How to Cook Porchetta | Conventional Oven vs. Air Frying
While some cooks attempt to roast the meat and crisp the skin at the same time, we think it’s helpful to separate the two processes and cook in the porchetta in two different phases.
First, the meat needs to be slow roasted until it is fully cooked. In a conventional oven, preheat to 300°F (150°C) and cook the porchetta until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C). It’s important to cook to temperature, not by time which can vary considerably. Reaching the correct internal temperature is important in order to achieve the right consistency of the pork belly fat.
If roasting in an air fryer, make sure that your porchetta can comfortably fit with several inches between the meat and the heating element (removing the bottom grate, if present, is a good way to increase capacity). Roast at 250°F (120°C) until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). Because the meat will be quite close to the heating element, you’ll want to turn the porchetta every now and then so that the top doesn’t burn.
Now that the meat is cooked it’s time to crisp the skin! The skin should be bubbly and crunchy, not smooth and glassy (which means hard and tough). To help the skin crispy, pierce the skin all over with the point of a sharp paring knife after the meat has roasted. This will allow extra fat to escape and help the process.
In a conventional oven, preheat the broiler to the maximum temperature and place the porchetta on a high rack so that it’s close to the heating element. Keep a close eye on the skin and occasionally turn the meat so that all the sides are crisped evenly. If using an air fryer, set the temperature to 380°F (195°C). As with a conventional oven, turn the porchetta frequently to evenly crisp the skin.
How to Eat and Store Porchetta
After the porchetta is fully cooked, allow it to rest for about 10 minutes before removing the kitchen twine and slicing into it. Serve thick-cut chunks in a bun for a fantastic sandwich, or just slice and eat it as it is!
Porchetta can be served warm or even at room temperature—it’s delicious either way. It will last in the fridge for several days and can be reheated in a warm oven. For longer storage, pack sliced porchetta in serving-size bags and freeze.
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Makes: 6-8 servings
For this recipe, you will need:
One rectangular pork belly, skin on (the size is up to you, we use a 2.5 pound or ~1 kg belly)
Extra-virgin olive oil
Fresh black pepper
2-3 cloves chopped garlic
Fresh rosemary, to taste
Fresh chopped fennel fronds, to taste
Roll the pork belly up, lengthwise, into a roll and mark the section of skin that ends up covered by the meat. Trim this section of skin off.
Thoroughly rub the entire belly with olive oil. Generously season the meat side of the belly with salt and pepper. Evenly spread the chopped garlic over the meat, followed by plenty of fresh rosemary and fennel fronds.
Roll the porchetta up again and tightly tie it shut with several wraps of kitchen twine. Refrigerate the porchetta, uncovered, overnight.
Preheat an oven to 300°F (150°C). If you have a large capacity air fryer that can comfortably fit the porchetta with a few inches free from the heating element, preheat it to 250°F (120°C). Roast the porchetta until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). While it’s important to cook by temperature, not by time, our 2.5 pound pork belly roasted in about 90 minutes, for reference. A larger porchetta can take significantly longer, as much as 3 hours.
Remove the porchetta from the oven. If using a conventional oven, preheat the broiler to the maximum temperature and set up a high rack close to the heating element. If using an air fryer, preheat it to 380°F (195°C).
Pierce the pork skin all over with the point of a sharp paring knife. Cook the porchetta, turning it frequently to cook all the sides evenly, until the skin is bubbly and crunchy. Depending on your oven, this process can be fast so keep a close eye on the porchetta.
Let the porchetta rest for 10 minutes before removing the twine, slicing and serving.