#LeithsLoves - Porchetta and Fennel Pollen Recipe

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#LeithsLoves - Porchetta and Fennel Pollen Recipe

One of our class tutors, Mark Williams has been spending time at ‘Porchetta and Grill’ over the summer and having heard him talk about the process I was inspired to try both making porchetta and the fennel pollen he had used. It made a great alternative to a BBQ for a large group over the sweltering bank holiday, as nobody had to stand over hot coals. As I was using a domestic oven, I used Rosie Birkett’s ‘home-style porchetta’ recipe as a guide but adapted it to use both the pollen and some of the techniques Mark saw on a commercial scale. Fennel pollen is expensive (and you could easily substitute ground fennel seeds in this recipe) but it has a really delicious intense flavour and doesn’t need to be dry roasted before use. Here is the resulting recipe where I have combined the 2 techniques. Rosie’s method of poaching the pork skin in water and bicarbonate of soda which she in turn credits to her friend and fellow cook Uyen Luu gave the best crackling I have ever made – so I will be using that trick with all my roast pork in the future……


Serves 15-20

4.5 kg Pork belly, boned
1 x 500g pork tenderloin, membrane removed
2 tablespoons bicarbonate of soda

Salt rub
1 tablespoon fennel pollen (or ground fennel seeds if preferred)
1 teaspoon red chilli flakes
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 ½ tablespoons sea salt

Herb rub
2 tablespoons rosemary leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon thyme leaves, finely chopped
4 tablespoons parsley leaves, chopped
1 tablespoons oregano or sage leaves, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
Zest of 2 lemons


Serve in crisp ciabatta rolls with salsa verde

The day before:

1. Score the skin of the pork belly with a very sharp knife in a cross-hatch pattern, being careful only to score down to just before where the skin meets the fat, rather than the fat itself. Bring a large roasting tray of water to simmer, and add the bicarbonate of soda. Place as much of the pork belly in the water as will fit, allowing the other half of the belly to rest on a baking tray to the side of the roasting tray, and poach gently for 5 minutes. Move the remaining belly into the roasting pan and again poach for 5 minutes, supporting the already poached section on a baking tray. Remove it from the water and leave to cool to room temperature.

2. Meanwhile, mix together the spices and salt for the salt rub and set aside. Then mix together the ingredients for the herb rub.

3. Prick the flesh side of the pork all over with a fork, to allow the flavours to permeate the meat.

4. Rub the belly joint and the tenderloin all over with the salt rub. Lay it out skin side down.

5. Massage the herb rub into the flesh side of the belly and the tenderloin. Lay the tenderloin in the centre of the belly (longways) towards the thinnest side (so the thickness will be evened out.

6. Wrap the belly around the tenderloin – it doesn’t matter if the fat does not quite cover the flesh. Tie up the joint with kitchen twine. About 6 lengths knotted firmly to hold it together.

7. Place the joint skin side up, uncovered in the fridge overnight to flavour the meat and dry out the skin.

Cooking the joint:

8. Remove the pork from the fridge and leave it at room temperature for 1 hour before you cook it. Preheat the oven to 140˚C.

9. Place the pork on a wire rack over a deep roasting tin. Place in the oven and pour boiling water into the tin, but not touching the meat.

10. Roast the port for 5 ½ hours, topping up the water in the roasting tin and turning the oven tray round every half hour or so to ensure even cooking.

11. Increase the heat to 200˚C for 20 – 30 minutes or until the crackling is golden and crisp.

12. Rest the joint on a chopping board for 20 minutes, then remove the twine, remove the crackling, cut into manageable pieces and set aside. Remove any large areas of unrendered fat and then cut the meat into slices and serve on a large lipped dish with a pile of crackling.

13. Serve slices of pork in ciabatta buns with salsa verde

Note: as long as the water in the roasting pan does not burn dry at any point, the juices under the pork are delicious (although salty!) and can be skimmed, reduced, frozen and used to add flavour to future pork gravies.

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Jenny Stringer

Author: Jenny Stringer


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