Porchetta is NOT a small porch

BUT porchetta is a fun word to say and it’s also fun to eat.


Read Time: 5 minutes

Porchetta, pronounced with a hard “kheh” in the middle, is an Italian-style pork roast. Most often it’s a pork loin or boneless pork roast. Fennel and garlic are somewhat expected flavors in porchetta, but other than that, it’s mostly just a boneless hunk of pork that’s seasoned and roasted.

There’s a small specialty grocery with a deli counter in Chicago called L&M Fine Foods. Inspired by L&M’s porchetta sandwich, I bought a big pork belly and made porchetta sandwiches at home.

I based my ingredients entirely on L&M’s porchetta menu description because it’s a great example of a fantastic savory pork sandwich. My sandwich has homemade porchetta, roasted garlic aioli, fried capers and arugula. At L&M you can order it hot or cold and I made my version in both hot and cold varieties.

If you are in Chicago, I strongly recommend you check out L&M Fine Foods, but if you’re elsewhere, you can check out the recipes I used below to make my version.

Let’s talk about what I made, starting with some sandwich rolls.

The ciabatta sandwich rolls

If you are in the market for great sandwich rolls, these are what you’re looking for. There’s a bit more effort and time in making/baking ciabatta because of the lack of sugar or enrichment in the dough, but once you get the rise going, the flavors and chewy texture are banging (the youths still say banging, right?).

Unlike a lot of sandwich buns or rolls, you cut out rectangles for ciabatta.
The little blisters you see (click for larger) are indicative of a fully fermented dough before baking.

This ciabatta recipe is cut into rectangles instead of shaped like other sandwich buns. You roll or press all the dough into a rectangle and then cut that rectangle into smaller rectangles. How many times can you put the word rectangles into a paragraph?

You can see in the photos below that I usually opt for a 9 inch by 10-inch rectangle which leaves me with six 3 inches by 5-inch pre-proofed ciabatta rolls. I have some simple diagrams in my recipe that hopefully will help those of you who are visual learners like me.

I have some simple diagrams in my recipe, but basically, for longer buns, you should shape out a 9 x 10-inch rectangle and then cut 3 x 5-inch smaller rectangles.
Then you move each of your smaller rectangles to a parchment-lined sheet pan for the final rise.

Here’s my ciabatta sandwich roll recipe:

5 hours
Ciabatta sandwich rolls

Light and airy rolls with a wide interior surface area for lots of sandwich spreads, meats and cheeses. The outer crust is a bit crunchy, but these rolls have a good bite perfect for sandwiching.

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The star of the show: pork belly porchetta

The porchetta I made isn’t traditional, my recipe is a whole pork belly rolled up with tons of spices in the middle. A lot of porchetta is using pork loin or a pork shoulder or roast. But using a whole pork belly means you can roll your belly up and expose only skin, leaving crispy, crackling crust in every slice.

I asked my butcher for a full skin-on pork belly and then I sliced it down the middle and froze one half for later. Mine was about 9 pounds after the butcher trimmed it for me. For this application, you want to make sure you buy skin-on pork belly, so you can get that crispiness from the cracklin’.

You can grind up your spices in a spice grinder or even a blender, but the old-school mortar and pestle seems like the best way to go.
Once your spices are ground, you should slice up your pork belly to give it more place for spice/seasonings to rest and rub it all over. This is going to be the inside of your porchetta after you roll it up.

Once you have the pork belly scored with your knife, you rub in the spices and then roll up the pork. The main thing to remember is that YOU DO NOT WANT skin inside the roll. When you are rolling up the porchetta, do a test roll and make a deep knife cut where the pork rolls up and cut off any skin that might end up inside the porchetta.

Looks like rolled-up bacon. This is after wrapping, but prior to any cooking.
This is 3.5 hours into the baking process. You pull the porchetta out while you bring your oven up to the highest temperature for crisping up the outside.
20 more minutes in a 500+ degree oven, turns the pork skin into a shatteringly crispy, crunchy outside.
My sloppy first cut. Waiting for the porchetta to cool fully or refrigerating it will allow you to cut smoother and make cleaner slices.

Here’s the full pork belly porchetta recipe:

16 hours
Crispy pork belly porchetta

Tender, savory, seasoned pork lined with crispy, crunchy skin. Carve up thin slices and sear for warm sandwiches or serve immediately for cold sandwiching.

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Microwave fried capers

Fried capers are a fantastic sandwich ingredient that no one is talking about. This recipe takes like 5 minutes to make. When you’re done, you’re left with crispy, salty nuggets you can add to a sandwich, salad or pasta dish. But you’re also left with a third of a cup of caper-flavored oil that you can save to use in your next salad dressing or mayonnaise.

I microwave fry my capers right in a Pyrex measuring cup. Measure out your oil, dump in the capers and 4 minutes later you have crispy capers. Oh, and most importantly: cover it all with a paper towel or you will have capers all over the inside of your microwave!

6 minutes
Microwave fried capers

Add some tasty texture to your next sandwich with fried capers. Sprinkle a salty and crispy addition onto your next sub or even add them to the top of a cooked slice of pizza.

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Roasted garlic mayonnaise

I’ve shared this roasted garlic mayonnaise recipe before. If you own a stick blender, it’s so easy to make your own mayo. Adding roasted garlic just levels up the savory qualities of your sandwich.

I just uploaded a video for making homemade mayonnaise in around two minutes. If you follow my video/recipe, you simply roast the garlic first and add it when you add the egg/Dijon mustard/lemon juice.

10 minutes
Roasted garlic mayo

You like sandwiches. Sandwiches like you. You need this roasted garlic mayo to enhance your love with sandwiches.

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Arugula

I used a mix of greens I found at the store that included arugula. There’s not much else here to say, but it was an “arugula mix” or something. Still all good and accomplished the goal.

How I make porchetta sandwiches

Once you have the porchetta, the ciabatta sandwich rolls, the roasted garlic mayonnaise, fried capers and arugula, I think you can figure out how to make them. But just in case, here are my methods.

Cold version:

Roasted garlic mayonnaise, arugula mix, thin-sliced porchetta and fried capers all sandwiched in a home-baked ciabatta sandwich bun.

For the cold porchetta sandwich, I like to slice the ciabatta and add roasted garlic mayonnaise to both sides. I don’t typically toast these rolls, but you can if you want. Then I add the arugula, slices of porchetta and sprinkle both of those with the fried capers.

Hot version:

You can broil the cheese on top of the pork and slide that into a sandwich. If you want to make sure the cheese is very gooey, wrap the sandwich in aluminum foil for 2 or 3 minutes before you eat.

For my hot sandwiches, I dressed my bun with mayo and added meat and cheese on top of that. A couple of minutes under the broiler to melt the cheese and then I removed it from the oven, added fried capers and arugula and sandwiched it all together.

For this sandwich, I used provolone or white cheddar, which both melted well.

Here are some porchetta sandwiches that I made recently.

These are fantastic sandwiches and I think you should make some to find out for yourself.

Look at all those airy ciabatta bubbles and the crunchy pork cracklin’.
These sandwiches are full of savory flavors and wonderful textures.
The capers lose a bit of their brininess in the drying and frying process, but they are still salty.
Cross-section of my porchetta sandwich
I doubled up on the meat on this one and the balance was not quite right.
This was a hot version of this sandwich. Everything was the same, but I added white cheddar and broiled it on top of the meat to warm everything up.

Make porchetta sandwiches at your house

This is a fantastic, savory sandwich. The ciabatta provides the perfect amount of chew for the soft pork, while at the same time there’s texture coming from the crispy skin and the hints of texture from fried capers. Make this porchetta recipe for your next big dinner and make sure you have some leftovers for the next couple of days’ worth of sandwiches.

Check back next week when I plan to celebrate Fat Tuesday on a Monday! Subscribe if you haven’t!


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