Roast Porchetta with Pan Jus Gravy and Creamy Romano Polenta

Serves 8-10, prep time: 30 m, total time: 3 h

Ingredients for Porchetta:

 

  • 5-7 lb. fresh bacon (pork belly)

  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt

  • 2 teaspoons coarse black pepper

  • 6 cloves chopped garlic

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper seeds

  • 1 tablespoon fennel pollen (find at your local spice store)

  • Olive oil

  • 3/4 cup dry white wine (like a Chardonnay)

  • 1/2 cup water

  • Kitchen string

  • Large oval or round Dutch oven with lid

Ingredients for the Pan Jus Gravy:

 

  • 2 tablespoons flour

  • 1/4 cup chicken stock

  • 1/4 cup white wine

Ingredients for the Polenta:

 

  • 4 cups chicken stock

  • 1 cup white corn meal

  • 1 cup Romano or Parmesan cheese

  • 2 cloves minced garlic

  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

  • 4 ounces cream cheese at room temperature

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Pre-heat the oven to 425°F.  Remove the middle rack as you will be using the lower rack of the oven.

 

Lay the pork belly on a clean work surface, skin side down. Trim any excessive fatty areas.  The pork belly should be about 18 inches long.  Season the pork belly with the salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, hot pepper seeds, fennel pollen and garlic.  Drizzle on some olive oil.  

 

Tightly roll the pork belly, resting it seam side down.  Lay out six cut kitchen strings long enough to wrap around the pork belly.  Place the pork belly seam side down over the strings.  One at a time, starting from the center, tie each string to secure the pork belly and all seasonings. 

In a large Dutch oven, drizzle with olive oil, add the water and wine.  Set the pork belly seam side down, cover with a lid and roast for 2 and 1/2 hours.  Each 30 minutes, using two long metal tongs, turn the pork belly so that it roasts evenly during the cooking and does not stick to the bottom of the pan.  Splash on a little white wine during each turn to baste the pork belly while roasting.

When finished, remove the lid and set the oven on broil to finish crisping the skin on all sides.  Watch carefully not to burn, charring is ok, but not too much.  Let the pork rest for an hour before slicing.

Remove the crackling skin from the roast and break into nice size pieces to serve atop the pork.  To serve, slice the pork very thin like 1/8 inch.  Don't worry if the pork roll doesn't hold its shape while slicing, it is beautiful bunched together, topped with  fresh arugula, a side of polenta, the crackling skin and the pan jus gravy.

To make the pan jus gravy, carefully pour out the excess oil from the Dutch oven into a heat proof glass container.  Make sure to leave all the good browned bits in the Dutch oven.  Sprinkle on the flour and deglaze the pan with the white wine, scraping the bottom and sides to remove the browned bits and incorporate into the gravy.  Add the chicken stock, as much as needed to thicken or thin to your liking. Do not add any salt or pepper, it will be salty enough from the roast.

To make the polenta, heat the chicken stock in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce to medium-low and slowly sprinkle on the corn meal, just a little at a time until it is incorporated into the stock, whisking constantly, until all the corn meal has been sprinkled on.  Stir constantly for the next 5-7 minutes with the whisk or a wooden spoon until thick.  Remove from the heat and add the remaining ingredients until incorporated.  You can re-heat the polenta over low heat with a little chicken stock, stirring until smooth and creamy.

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