DIY Porchetta: How to Make Your Own Porchetta Feast + Recipes From Barbrix Chef Don Dickman

Porchetta at Barbrix

A. ScattergoodPorchetta at Barbrix

Porchetta, as we recently discovered, is having its moment in Los Angeles. Or maybe it's having another moment, as the glorious Italian ode to pig is hardly a recent discovery. The roasted pork dish had been gracing Italian menus, Italian food trucks and rustic Italian kitchens for a long time before it hit the restaurant scene in L.A. And of course chefs here have been cooking the stuff for years. Don Dickman has been making porchetta for over a decade, at his now-shuttered Santa Monica restaurant Rocca since it opened in 2003, and at Barbrix, which debuted in Silver Lake four years ago.

Dickman's porchetta, he recently told us in Barbrix's tiny open kitchen, is easily adapted for the home cook -- not least because it is not made with a whole pig, suckling or otherwise. (Although he did make the dish with a 100-lb. pig at Rocca.) These days, Dickman uses a Niman Ranch pork shoulder, which he seasons, ties, covers, then puts into an oven for about four hours. That's more or less it. There are a couple tricks -- not because porchetta is a tricky dish, but because there are always tricks to the best dishes -- most of which involve fennel pollen. Find it, buy it, use it, and do so very liberally. That's about it for tricks. "The simpler it is," says Dickman, who has logged many hours as a culinary instructor, "the more likely you are to cook it."

porchetta and everything

A. Scattergoodporchetta and everything

Dickman points out that porchetta is a forgiving dish, one that can be altered and changed to suit your tastes and your pantry. If you don't like thyme, use sage. Use a bigger piece of pork if you want, though probably not a smaller one. If it's cooking too fast, put foil on it. Cook it hours ahead of time, or days -- the stuff is terrific in sandwiches, even between tortillas. And because porchetta is a dish that is excellent as a feast, Dickman gave us not only his recipe for the pig, but for a few excellent accompaniments: the traditional salsa verde, slow-roasted rapini, and a pot of glorious beans with tomatoes and sage. So if you get tired of the weekend crowds at Bestia or Angelini Osteria -- or at Barbrix, where Dickman often has porchetta as a special -- go to the market, invite some friends over, and throw your own party.

Porchetta at Barbrix

A. ScattergoodPorchetta at Barbrix


From: Don Dickman of Barbrix

Note: Dickman doesn't recommend using a roast under 4 lbs. Also for such a long cooking time a smaller roast just will not have enough internal area and could end up dry and tough. Don't worry, the chef says that it makes great sandwiches the next day.

Serves: 4-6

1 piece of pork shoulder (approx. 4 lbs.), skin on

½ cup garlic, finely chopped

¼ cup wild fennel pollen

¼ cup fresh rosemary, roughly chopped

¼ cup fresh thyme, roughly chopped

1 lemon, zest only, finely grated

1-2 Tbl. kosher salt

1-2 Tbl ground black pepper

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 cup dry white wine

1. Pre heat your oven to 425 degrees. In a small bowl mix the herbs with the garlic, fennel pollen, lemon zest, salt and pepper.

2. With a short, sharp knife make 20 or so incisions about 1/2" deep all over the pork, through the skin and on the bottom side as well. With your fingers force some of the herb-garlic mixture deeply into all of the incisions.

3. Using kitchen twine tie up the pork until it is in a neat bundle.

4. Rub the pork all over with the olive oil. Then rub the rest of the herb-garlic mixture all over the outside of the pork. Place the pork on rack in a roasting pan big enough to hold it comfortably.

5. Place the pork in the oven and then turn down the heat to 300 degrees after 20 minutes.

6. Roast for another 1 ½ hours and then pour the wine over the pork and continue to cook another 2 hours or so. You want the internal temperature to reach 175 degrees. All of this timing depends on your oven and the size of your roast. You would rather cook it a little more than a little less as it is pretty hard to overcook it. When you think it is done, remove from the oven and let rest at room temperature for at least 20 minutes before cutting into it.

Niman Ranch pork shoulder

A. ScattergoodNiman Ranch pork shoulder

porchetta seasoning

A. Scattergoodporchetta seasoning

tying the porchetta

A. Scattergoodtying the porchetta

seasoned porchetta

A. Scattergoodseasoned porchetta

Turn the page for the rest of the recipes...

salsa verde

A. Scattergoodsalsa verde

Salsa Verde

From: Don Dickman of Barbrix

Note: This is kind of like a thickish vinaigrette and is good to have around for other uses as well. It can sauce a steak, chicken or fish so do not underestimate it.

Serves: 4-6

1 bunch Italian parsley, roughly chopped

2 Tbl. capers, rinsed

2 cloves garlic

½ lemon - zest only

1 Tbl. white wine vinegar

2 anchovy filets

1 Tbl. coriander seeds, cracked

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste

1. In a food processor combine all of the ingredients except the olive oil. Pulse a few times to get it going. Drizzle in the olive oil slowly. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

ingredients for salsa verde

A. Scattergoodingredients for salsa verde

ingredients for salsa verde

A. Scattergoodingredients for salsa verde

beans, tomatoes and sage

A. Scattergoodbeans, tomatoes and sage

Fagioli all'Ucceletto (Cannellini beans stewed with tomato and sage)

From: Don Dickman of Barbrix

Note: Loosely translated Fagioli all'Ucceletto means 'beans cooked up like little birds'. It's a great recipe to use with porchetta but also works well with sausages, quail, pretty much any roast or grilled meat. And as with all tomato-herb based stews or soups, it tastes better the next day.

Serves: 4-6

1 lb. dry cannelini ceans

1-2 Tbl. kosher salt

1 ½ cups onion, small dice

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 28-oz. can whole San Marzano Italian tomatoes

8 whole sage leaves

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1. Soak the beans in plenty of cold water overnight. The next day, drain the beans and rinse in cold water.

2. Put the beans in a large sauce pan and cover with fresh cold water by one inch. Add 1 Tbl. salt, cover the sauce pan and bring to a simmer over high heat.

3. Early on as the beans are heating they will throw off foam which you want to skim off a few times. Once they are at a simmer and skimmed, let the beans cook with the cover on at low heat at a bare simmer. This will help ensure the beans stay whole and don't break apart.

4. In 30 minutes, taste a bean and feel the texture to help gauge how much longer they will need. Give the beans a gentle stir at this time as well. You can also add more salt if you think it needs it as they are cooking.

5. Continue to cook until they are totally tender. When they are tender, place the beans and all of their liquid in a storage container and refrigerate uncovered. When they are chilled cover and let them rest overnight.

6. The next day drain and reserve the liquid from the beans. In a large sauce pan heat the olive oil and add the onions and garlic. Cook at medium heat for five minutes or so until softened but not browned.

7. Next add the beans, tomato, sage, salt and pepper. Give a good stir and slowly bring to a simmer. If it looks too thick add in some of the reserved bean liquid. Any excess bean liquid could be saved and used as a "poor man's stock". Simmer for about 20 minutes. Chill any that you're not using right away in a storage container and reheat slowly as needed.

beans cooking

A. Scattergoodbeans cooking


A. Scattergoodrapini

Long-cooked rapini with garlic, chili and Parmesan

Note: Dickman credits this recipe to Dinic's at Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia.

Serves: 4-6

1-2 bunches rapini, tough bottom stems trimmed

2 Tbl. garlic, finely chopped

1 tsp. red chili flakes

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

½ cup Parmesan cheese

1 cup water

salt and pepper to taste

1. Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl mix the rapini with all of the ingredients.

2. Place the raw rapini mixture in a roasting pan large enough to comfortably hold it all. Cover tightly with aluminum foil.

3. Place the pan in the oven and check after 45 minutes or so. You want the rapini totally cooked. If it seems dry, add a bit more water to the pan and keep cooking until soft and giving.

rapini, Parmesan and olive oil

A. Scattergoodrapini, Parmesan and olive oil

See also:

- Porchetta Hits L.A.: The Mysteries of Pigsburgh

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