Recipe: Porchetta (Slow-roasted pork) from I Heart Rome »

From I Heart Rome by Maria Pasquale

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<i>I Heart Rome</i> By Maria Pasquale

I Heart Rome By Maria Pasquale [©Smith Street Books ]

Porchetta (Slow-roasted pork)


I Heart Rome by Maria Pasquale uncovers the authentic city and food that she's discovered since moving there from Australia.

This recipe for Slow-roasted Pork is from her friend, Paolo Tocchio. [Ed: and yes, it has crackling!]


Ingredients (Serves up to 12):

  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 4 rosemary sprigs, leaves picked
  • 10 sage leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 3.5 kg (7 lb 12 oz) pork belly
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) pork fillet


For cooking

  • 250 ml (8½ fl oz/1 cup) dry white wine
  • 250 ml (8½ fl oz/1 cup) water
  • 4 rosemary sprigs
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds



Create a seasoning for the porchetta by blitzing together the salt, rosemary, sage and fennel seeds.

Lay the pork belly on a clean work surface, skin side down, and sprinkle with a generous amount of the seasoning mix. (If you don’t use it all, you can keep it to season meat or fish.)

Without cutting all the way through, slice the pork fillet down the centre lengthways, so that you can open it out like butterfly wings; you can ask your butcher to do this, if you prefer.

Place the pork fillet on top of the pork belly, then roll it up, with the pork fillet inside, as tightly as possible. Tie tightly at regular intervals with kitchen string. Pierce the skin with a knife over the entire surface.

Wrap the entire porchetta in foil and allow to rest in the fridge overnight, or for at least 6 hours.

Preheat the oven to 220°C (430°F). Add the wine, water, rosemary sprigs and fennel seeds to a roasting tray (or a baking dish) with a roasting rack on top.

Place the porchetta, still covered in foil, on the rack part of the tray, so that as the liquid evaporates during cooking it will help to keep the porchetta moist.

Bake for 1 hour, then take the porchetta out of the oven and remove the foil. Place the meat back in the oven.

Reduce the oven temperature to 200°C (400°F) and bake for a further 3 hours (calculate 1 hour of cooking time for every 1 kg/ 2 lb 3 oz of meat). If the liquid dries out, top up with more water or wine, and turn the pork every 30 minutes to ensure the skin becomes crispy and ‘crackles’.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest before carving.


Note: Paolo Tocchio, a butcher from Borbona in Lazio’s Rieti province, shared this recipe with me, thanks to my friend Sabrina Tocchio, Paolo's cousin. The art of butchery has been in his family for generations, and in the winter time he bunkers down to make sausages, guanciale, pancetta and prosciutto. I love eating porchetta on its own, as well as the traditional Roman way — in a panino.

City folk flock regularly to the Castelli Romani and in particular to Ariccia, the Lazio town renowned for its porchetta and fraschette, the casual restaurants where porchetta and wine go hand in hand.


Note: When my mum came to Rome for the first time after I moved here, she couldn’t believe her eyes when she spotted me eating porchetta. She’d been making it all my life, particularly for special occasions, and I’d always pass it up. I now lament all the pork I missed, because porchetta is truly sublime

Porchetta is rolled, spiced pork with crackling that, put simply, just makes you happy. It is made throughout central Italy and varies slightly depending on the region. For instance, Lazio and Abruzzo share a border, but one includes garlic while the other doesn’t.


This recipe reproduced with kind permission of the publisher. See links below for more information and recipes.

I Heart Rome  recipes & stories from the Eternal City by Maria Pasquale is published by Smith Street Books (Melb,Oct 2017; Hb; 264pp; RRP A$49.99) and is distributed in Australia and New Zealand by Simon & Schuster.

It is available in good bookshops and can be purchased online via »



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