I saw this dish on the TV and it’s a travel show that I can’t remember but what I do remember is that the minute I saw it I knew this dish would taste really amazing hence I decided to cook it at home immediately. That travel show was showcasing Italian food and the part this dish was featured started in the morning where this shop prepared more than three dozen of this rolled pork belly and roasted it to perfection, so come lunch time its ready for the locals to eat and devour.
This is so far, the best pork dish I ever tried, its fatty and very moist where the pork skin turns into crispy cracklings and locks out all the juices inside to seal the flavour and moisture yielding very tender boneless pork roast. Traditionally a whole baby pig is used, deboned and carefully arranged with stuffing but in its simplest form it can be made with pork belly filled with herbs and spices and tied down to form a roll where meat is locked by the skin.
Spices used to fill this dish are garlic, rosemary, fennel, chillies and/or other herbs then it is heavily salted. Originally considered as a celebratory dish and it popular in the whole country of Italy, today this is a common street food found in Rome and Lazio.
I haven’t made this for a long time but today is the day to break that drought as I had seen a beautiful piece of pork belly in our supermarket. A very thin layer of pork belly with a good amount of fat in between the meat, that’s the most perfect candidate for this dish. And like the Italians we will be eating this on bread buns and savour it on every bite. Preparation is quite cumbersome but trust me the rewards are more than enough.
- In a pan lightly toast together fennel seeds, black peppercorns and red pepper flakes. Let it cool then using a mortar and pestle pound the spices together with rosemary, sage, garlic and lemon zest. Pound well to combine together.
- Lay down the pork skin side down on a work surface then prick the meat all over the surface with fork. Spread the spice mixture onto the meat surface then season with salt.
- Roll the pork then tie it tightly with butcher’s twine in 1-inch intervals. Season outside generously with salt then refrigerate overnight without cover allowing the skin to dehydrate.
- Remove pork from the refrigerator 2 hours before roasting.
- Remove extra moisture from skin by gently wiping skin with paper towel.
- Place in a roasting rack then roast in a 160C preheated oven for 2½ hours.
- Increase the temperature to 230C then continue to roast for 20-30 minutes or until the skin turns crispy and golden brown.
- Remove from oven, let it rest for 15 minutes before slicing. Remove the strings once it cools down then slice into ½-inch pieces.
- Serve with bread buns with salad and some sriracha mayonnaise dressing.