Why make porchetta when you can buy it, living as we do within driving distance of Ariccia — arguably the most famous porchetta in Italy and which has attained IGP status as of last month (i.e. it has been recognised as a product of ‘Protected Geographical Indication’) ? Why indeed. I don’t know … maybe it was curiosity, maybe it was playfulness, maybe it was because concentrating on a new project/action requires a lot of attention that will otherwise and by default get sucked into stress and worry. Some people like a game of golf, I like to cook.
I went to my trusty butcher’s and asked for advice and instructions … and bought only a small amount of meat as this was a trial. They were very eager to find out how I would get on and asked for a detailed report and wished me luck.
The experiment went well, I am glad to say … a result which I ascribe to my enthusiasm, good instructions closely followed … and beginner’s luck!
Take a look …
This was the hardest bit for me … I am not an expert trusser (I am not good at sewing either, for that matter) and had to look up the internet to remind myself — yet again! — how to go about it. The end result was a little over-trussed … but better be safe than sorry was my motto …
I had turned the oven on to preheat it, at 200°C and it was ready to welcome the porchetta, phase 1. Phase 1 of the cooking consists in covering the porchetta ‘log’ with parchment paper that has been soaked in water and wrung (to make it malleable so it’s easy for you to use).
The reason you want to envelop your porchetta in parchment paper is that you then have to wrap it again, this time in aluminium foil … and as we all know by now, the less aluminium we ingest the better … i.e. the parchment paper acts like a buffer.
Into the oven at 200°C for two hours. Please note that the porchetta is resting on the oven’s grid: not on a baking tray. This way, the heat will be able to circulate all around it … and cook it more evenly. I placed a baking tray with some water under the porchetta in case any fat were to ooze out of it. End of Phase 1.
After two hours or so have elapsed, take the porchetta out of the oven and remove both the aluminium foil and the parchment paper and throw them away. Do not turn the oven off … the porchetta needs to finish its cooking (phase 2).
The very indiscreet and unmistakeable aroma of porchetta wafted throughout our flat … four girls for lunch wolfed it down (I kept a few slices for my husband, for my butcher and for my mother). Alessandra Ciocca (aka my butcher): Thank you for giving me such good meat, precise instructions, even the butcher’s twine or string and lots of encouragement! I just love beginner’s luck! May it rub off on you too … go on, have a go!