With a couple of smart tweaks, Miami chef Michael Pirolo transforms this classic Italian dish—traditionally a whole pig—into a striking main course for a crowd.
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“When Italians make porchetta, they debone a whole pig, then fold all of the leg and shoulder meat into the belly and roll it up,” says Michael Pirolo, chef at Miami’s Macchialina, the latest restaurant from the popular Pubbelly restaurant group. “But I run a small place, so we’d never be able to go through an entire pig.” To make a more modestly sized roast, Pirolo breaks with tradition by using the belly alone, which he brines and then seasons with rosemary, garlic and spices (including nutmeg and juniper, which are more often associated with pancetta). His method is perfect for the home cook: The pork roast fits in a conventional oven yet is big (and impressive) enough to feed a crowd. By omitting the leaner leg and shoulder cuts, which are prone to drying out during the slow-roasting process, Pirolo’s recipe guarantees amazingly moist meat—all encased in a shell of what he describes as “crack your teeth crispy” skin, a hallmark of any great porchetta. And if there are any leftovers, try Pirolo’s serving suggestions, including an indulgent sandwich with broccoli rabe.
Photo © Chris Court.
Brine the belly overnight; dry it and rub with the spice mixture; then marinate it for at least another 12 hours.Photo © Chris Court.
Pierce the skin all over with the tip of a knife, which will help render some of the belly’s fat and crisp the skin.Photo © Chris Court.
Roll up the belly lengthwise to form a tight cylinder and tie tightly at 2-inch intervals with kitchen twine.Photo © Chris Court.
After roasting, cut the porchetta into slices using a serrated knife, which can help cut through the crisp skin.
Ideas for Leftover Porchetta
According to Pirolo, Italians love to make use of leftover porchetta. Here are a few ways he likes to use it up:
Serve the porchetta cold and thinly sliced on a salumi board.
Make a sandwich with porchetta, melted provolone and sautéed broccoli rabe on toasted ciabatta bread.
Fold the porchetta into an omelet with goat cheese and scallions.