Porchetta (roast pork with crackling) - Umbria
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Categories: Gluten free, Dairy free, Kids
The simple mention of the word “porchetta” makes most Italians salivate. This is a traditional dish originating in Umbria but is also common in Lazio, Abruzzo and Le Marche. In Umbria the meat is flavoured with garlic, wild fennel, salt and pepper while in Lazio and Abruzzo, rosemary and garlic are used. In Le Marche they sometimes baste the meat with white wine or cooked wine must. Porcheddu in Sardegna is also quite similar, albeit flavoured with lardo and myrtle. It is spit-roasted suckling pig. There are porchetta festivals during the summer time throughout central Italy where families and friends come from all around to eat porchetta outdoors and listen to music and socialise.
Do not be tempted to make a smaller roast, as it is more likely to dry out. Make sure that the butcher wraps the skin (with a good layer of fat to keep the meat moist) around the roast so that the entire top and sides are covered to retain the moisture. If they give you a cut that looks like a doughnut and the flesh is 80% plus exposed, take it back. It will come out dry. Use whichever of the herbs listed below on their own or as a mixture.
I make this dish on days I don't feel like cooking for a big group. The day before I salt the skin and leave it to dry in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning I take it out and if I am feeling very lazy, I just place it on top of the herbs and stick it in the oven until it is cooked. I then crank up the heat and get the crackling crispy and then let it sit until ready to serve.
Recipe type: Main Course (Secondo)
Cuisine: Umbria
Serves: 8
  • 3.5 kilos pork shoulder from the neck end (Boston butt), bone in
  • 6 cloves of garlic, skins removed
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, rinsed
  • 6 sage leaves, rinsed (optional)
  • fronds from 4 fennel bulbs, removed and rinsed
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Twine
  1. Get the butcher to cut the skin of the shoulder in ½ cm apart lines diagonally across the fat without cutting down into the meat. Take 5 grams coarse sea salt and rub it into the skin, ensuring to get the salt into the cuts. Place the meat on a tray skin side up and leave it in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. Heat the oven to 130 C. Place a large tray of water on the bottom of the oven.
  3. Finely chop or pound together: 7 grams coarse sea salt, the garlic, sage, fennel and rosemary. Remove from the meat from the refrigerator and slice it open from the side so that it opens like a book and the two sides are still connected (being careful of the bone).
  4. Rub the inside with the pounded mixture. Close the meat and use twine to tie shut, tying every 3 cm. (Note: if you are feeling lazy, just place the herbs and garlic on a rack in a roasting pan and place the meat on top of it.)
  5. Take some more salt and massage it into the skin. Rub salt and pepper on the meat and place inside a roasting tray. Roast for 6 hours (depending on the temperature of the meat when starting and the width of the roast) or until the inside temperature is 90C (193F). The meat should be tender and be falling apart.
  6. Carefully remove the pan of water from the oven. Increase the heat to 250C until the skin on top has bubbled and is crunchy, 10 to 15 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and let it sit for at least 20 minutes and ideally an hour before carving and serve. Porchetta is excellent cold as well as hot.
Recipe by Living a Life in Colour at https://www.livingalifeincolour.com/recipes/porchetta-roast-pork-with-crackling-umbria/