Tuscan Porchetta (Porchetta Toscana)
Porchetta is a whole pig, roasted, and is one of the most common street foods in Central Italy. Learn how to prepare it at home in the oven.
- Serves: 40 persons
- 1pig, weighing at least 45 pounds/20 kg, and up to 220 or more/100 kg or more
- 11pounds/5 kg. uniodized salt
- ⅔pound/250 g. whole peppercorns
- 3 ⅓pounds/1.5 kg. whole garlic cloves
- 3 ⅓pounds/1.5 kg. chopped rosemary needles
- Other herbs of choice, which will vary according to the season and the porchettaro. Everyone has a secret ingredient, for example, bay leaves or rosemary.
Step 1Begin by scalding the pig's hide and scraping away bristles. If you buy your pig from a butcher (as opposed to a pig-breeder) it will likely already have been cleaned. If you clean it yourself, set the organs aside for other uses. Some porchettari coarsely chop the liver and the heart and mix them in with the spices.
Step 2The next step is to bone the pig, removing leg bones, shoulder bones, rib cage, and spine. Leave the skull in place, and also, if you want, the tail.
Step 3Wash and dry the cavity. Distribute the spice mixture evenly throughout the cavity of the pig, making certain it reaches the hollows left by the bones and between the muscles. Be patient, and thorough, because the success of the porchetta depends upon seasoning the meat evenly.
Step 4Mix together the rest of the ingredients for the spice mixture. Tuscans do not use wild fennel as southern Italian traditions do, which is a difference between the two.
Step 5Make cuts through the rind into the meatier parts of the pig and rub spice mixture into those cuts. Distribute the spice mixture evenly throughout the cavity of the pig, making certain it reaches the hollows left by the bones and between the muscles. Be patient, and thorough, because the success of the porchetta depends upon seasoning the meat evenly. The cuts through the rind will allow fat to drain as the animal roasts, and help the heat penetrate.
Step 6While you are preparing the pig, you should also heat your oven; it should be fairly hot (360 to 400 F, or 180 to 200 C).
Step 7Put the trussed pig in the oven, on a spit turner, and over a pan that will serve to catch the drippings. Porchettari figure an hour's roasting time for every 10 kg of pig, so a 100 kg (220 pounds cleaned) pig would take 10 hours to roast.
Step 8Check it and baste it occasionally.
Step 9The porchetta is ready when the rind has turned a pretty golden brown, and a skewer inserted into the deep muscles comes out clean.
Step 10Porchetta is served thinly sliced, either warm or at room temperature, with the rind, which is delightfully crunchy, and is perfect as a sandwich filler or as a picnic or cookout food.