I just finished reading a mystery series that takes place in the Perigord region of France. The detective in this Martin Walker series loves to cook and there is almost as much time spent on the mystery as on the food – which suits me just fine! Perigord is the home of truffles, foie gras and wild boar as well as walnut tart. When I was in college I spent one winter vacation in Alsace with a French family that I knew at the time. The food was amazing! From the moment you woke up to cafe au lait and beautiful breads shaped like people eaten with home-made confiture to lunches (the main meal) of everything from wild roast boar to fish in a cream sauce to the hand-made chocolates loaded with liqueur that we ate after long walks in the woods – this was eating! We always had a tisane before bed to help keep our livers in good working order. Amazingly I did not gain an ounce, but I’m sure that the long walks in the mountains and the numerous stairs that I climbed, in addition to just trying to keep warm because there was no central heating, all helped.
Well, I have no idea where to buy wild boar here and I’m not sure that I would purchase it even if I could, but a good pork butt (shoulder) is readily available and happened to be on sale this week. This recipe comes mostly from Gabriele Corcos and his Extra Virgin cookbook. I made a few changes in addition to using a much smaller cut of meat. This is one of those homey dishes that just makes me sigh with delight at the first bite. Leftovers are great for sandwiches.
Porchetta – Roast Pork Roast
Yield: 4-6 servings
3 to 3.5 pound boneless pork shoulder (also called pork butt – no idea why since they are clearly different ends of the body!)
3 Tablespoons fresh sage leaves
3 Tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
5 cloves of garlic, peeled
a handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/2 Tablespoon fennel seeds
1/2 Tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
2 medium potatoes (I used Yukon Gold but red Bliss potatoes would also work)
2 heads of garlic
1/2 cup dry white wine
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
- In a blender or food processor, combine the sage, rosemary, parsley, 5 cloves of garlic, fennel seeds, salt and pepper and process while drizzling in EVOO. You want to emulsify this into a paste that resembles pesto.
- Using a sharp knife, butterfly the pork so that it opens like a book with the spine still attached. Hopefully there is a good marbling of fat, which both adds flavor and keeps the roast from drying out.
- Spread about half of the paste over the open “pages” of the pork, reserving the remainder of the paste for serving.
- Close the “book” with the fat side facing up and tie it tightly with kitchen twine. You can do this part ahead of time and carefully wrap it tightly and refrigerate it until you are ready to roast it. This can be done up to a day ahead.
- When you are ready to roast the pork, halve the potatoes and the garlic heads and lay them cut side down in a shallow roasting pan. Drizzle with EVOO and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Lay the roast – fat side up – on top of the cut heads of garlic and potatoes. Drizzle with a bit more EVOO and sprinkle a little more salt and pepper on top of the roast.
- Place the pan in the oven and roast uncovered for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, pour the wine over the roast and baste the meat with the pan juices about every 20 minutes. Roast for about a total of 2.25 to 2.50 hours or until the skin is very browned and the juices run clear or an internal temperature of 170 degrees F. has been achieved.
- Remove the pan from the oven and allow the roast to rest for about 20 minutes. Remove to a cutting board and carefully snip the twine. Then slice into 1/2 inch thick pieces and enjoy.