Porchetta with Fennel
I don’t know how a planned dinner for three in my Harlem apartment turned into a pre-holiday dinner for seven, but that happened one Sunday night as soon as Mother Nature confirmed it was autumn in New York City. Our friend Marisol, who moved to Florida for work earlier this year, was in town for a meeting. Grabbing the opportunity to see her before the holiday craziness begins, I invited her over for dinner with Lily. Since the three of us were the only single ones in our group, I figured they would be the easiest to make plans with on short notice. It turned out that even the new moms who live in New Jersey were able to make some time to come over for dinner, tiny babies included.
I bought two boneless pork shoulders that were already tied up. After distributing the seasoning on the pork, I simply rolled and tied the pork back up; the tied-up pork should resemble a log. Adjust the cooking time to 2 hours if you’re feeding a large group like I did because the meat will compete for the oven’s heat. If you see the pork drying up halfway through, you’ll need to add some more broth in the roasting pan, so keep extra broth handy. If you think the ends are good enough to eat, feel free to remove the pork from the oven and slice off the ends after it rests; put back the rest of the pork in the oven to cook the middle part. By the way, refrain from opening the oven when you check–I just turn the oven light on when I need to take a peek at whatever I’m cooking. This saves the oven from needing to heat again.
1 boneless pork shoulder, about 3 pounds, trimmed
fennel fronds from one fennel bulb, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
rosemary from 3 stalks
1 tbsp fennel seeds, grounded
2 tsps red pepper flakes
2 cups chicken broth
1. Preheat the oven to 300º. On a large cutting board, untie the pork shoulder and lay flat. Season the pork liberally with salt and pepper.
2. In a small bowl, combine the fennel fronds, garlic, rosemary, fennel seeds and red pepper flakes and sprinkle two-thirds of the mixture over the pork. (Reserve one-third of the mixture.)
3. Roll the pork up tightly. Using butcher twine, tie the pork every few inches. Season the outside of the pork with the reserved herb mixture and salt and pepper.
4. Place the pork in the center of a rectangular roasting pan and pour the chicken broth around it. Roast the pork until well browned and an instant-read thermometer registers 150º, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove to a chopping block and let stand for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve immediately.
Serve this porchetta with my favorite Brussels sprouts salad