In Tuscany, every town has a market day. This is when trucks carrying all kinds of delightful edibles pull into the center of town, open up their sides, and become little grocery stores on wheels. Of course my favorite truck was always the porchetta truck—who doesn’t love a truck that sells a delicious crispy pork product? Traditionally, porchetta is a whole pig that’s been boned and cooked for hours, until skin gets totally brown and crunch and the meat becomes wonderfully tender. It’s most often seasoned with garlic, sage, and black pepper—and while pepper is not traditionally how I roll, it’s appropriate in this dish to keep the classic flavors intact. What is totally unique in my version is to cook the pork on a bed of autumn vegetables—they soak up the lovely pork juices and help create the ultimate one-pot dinner for a crowd. Be sure to save some leftovers for a sandwich the next day!
- 1 bunch of fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- 1 bunch of fresh sage, finely chopped
- 10 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 picnic pork shoulder with the skin on, bone out (save the bone)
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 5 or 6 onions, sliced
- 1 pound fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise
- 2 pints Brussels sprouts, halved
- 1 celery root, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice
- 1 bottle of dry white wine
- 1 thyme bundle, tied with butcher’s twine
- 10 bay leaves
- 2 quarts chicken stock
Preheat the oven to 450°F. In a small bowl, combine the rosemary, sage, garlic and red pepper and add enough olive oil to form a loose paste. Rub the mixture all over the inside of the pork (be sure to get it in every nook and cranny). Sprinkle the pork generously with salt and pepper, then roll it back up into a bundle and tie it tightly with butcher’s twine. In a large roasting pan, combine the onions, potatoes, Brussels sprouts, celery root, and wine; season with salt and add the thyme bundle and bay leaves. Lay the pork bone in the pan with the veggies and nestle the pork on top of the bone and in the vegetables. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes, or until skin starts to get brown and crispy. Brush the pork skin with the pan juices and add the chicken stock. Continue roasting for another 3 ½ hours, basting the skin every 30 or 40 minutes. If the skin becomes too dark, tent the pan with aluminum foil, but remember, we want a nice, dark crispy pork skin. Remove the pork from the oven, cut off the twine (you don’t want to floss and eat at the same time), and remove the pork skin—it will probably come off in one large, lovely crispy piece like a helmet! Use kitchen shears to cut the skin into pieces and make sure everybody gets some on their plate. Slice the pork and serve it over the vegetables, drenched in lots of porky pan juices.
That’s my idea of pigging out!