Hesser’s porchetta recipe comes from Chef Ali Waks-Adams in Maine, who named the recipe after a chef named Luciana. Chef Waks-Adams recommends using a heritage pork shoulder, butterflied, with the skin on. Toast the aromatics — fresh rosemary, fennel, coriander, garlic and finely grated orange zest — before seasoning the porchetta. Then layer thin slices of pancetta over the porchetta to protect the roast from drying out. A side of garlicky greens is the perfect accompaniment to the robust flavors in the porchetta. Hesser’s recipe (below) calls for spinach, but any hearty green will do — kale, chard, escarole, mustard greens. By the time the roast emerges from the oven, Hesser says, your entire house will smell like an Italian trattoria.
Yield: Makes 8 servings, with leftovers for lunch
1 tbsp coarse salt
1 tbsp black peppercorns
2 tsps fennel seeds
2 tsps coriander seeds
½ tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsps fresh rosemary, chopped
2 tsps orange zest, finely grated
3 large cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
2 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
4 lbs pork shoulder, butterflied (ask your butcher to do this)
2 bay leaves
8 thin slices of pancetta
½ cup red wine vinegar (choose a good one)
A meat thermometer
Prepare the rub: Toast the salt, peppercorns, fennel seeds, coriander seeds and red pepper flakes in a skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely crush the spices with a mortar and pestle or in a blender. In a bowl or dish large enough to fit the pork shoulder, combine the ground spices with the rosemary, orange zest and garlic. Add the olive oil and stir to form a paste.
Prepare the pork: Add the pork shoulder and slather on the spice mixture. Wedge the bay leaves in and around the pork. Transfer the pork to the refrigerator and allow to marinate overnight.
Roast the porchetta: Preheat your oven to 325°F and bring the pork shoulder to room temperature, about 30 to 60 minutes.
Roll the butterflied pork shoulder and tie it with butcher’s twine at 1-inch intervals. Insert the bay leaves beneath the twine toward the center of the roast. Arrange the pancetta in overlapping rows across the surface of the porchetta roll, like fish scales.
Place the porchetta in a roasting pan and roast in a 325ºF oven until the internal temperature reaches 155ºF, about 1½ to 2 hours. Then remove the porchetta from the oven and allow to rest until the internal temperature reaches 160ºF. Transfer the porchetta to a cutting board and allow to rest while you prepare the sauce.
Make the sauce: Set the roasting pan over medium heat and deglaze the pan with the red wine vinegar, scraping up any browned bits. Don’t let the sauce reduce too much, just enough to tone down its sharpness (it should be a pork vinaigrette).
To store: Refrigerate the pork and sauce in separate containers and save the pancetta chips.
To reheat: Preheat the oven to 300ºF. Thinly slice the porchetta and arrange in a baking dish with the pancetta. Spoon some of the sauce on top.
Yield: Makes 4 servings
2 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
1 large clove garlic, smashed
1¼ lbs fresh spinach or other hardy green like kale or chard
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
Pour the oil into a large deep pot over medium-high heat. Then add the garlic and cook until lightly toasted and softened. Add the spinach to the pot and sprinkle with salt, to taste. Cover the pot with a lid for about 30 seconds, then remove the lid and use tongs to stir the spinach. Replace the lid.
As the spinach begins to wilt, remove the lid and set aside. Toss the spinach, cooking off the water at the bottom of the pot. Once the spinach is completely wilted and most of the water is cooked off, taste the greens and adjust the salt. To finish, season with pepper and nutmeg, to taste.
To store: Pack any uneaten cooked greens in a container and store in the refrigerator. The greens may give off some moisture in the refrigerator; pour this off before reheating in the microwave.
All photos by James Ransom for Food52.