Porchetta—Italy’s Decadent Pork Centerpiece

One of my favorite parts of the days leading up to Christmas is finalizing what we are going to eat for dinner that day. Thanksgiving is fun and all, but you are pretty much locked in with turkey every year. Christmas, on the other hand, presents endless options, especially when you start looking at how other countries celebrate.

On the Ninth Day of Imported Christmas, we made made porchetta to see if this Italian specialty deserved a spot in the rotating Christmas dinner menu (Too impatient to read to the end? The answer is a resounding yes).

Porchetta originated in central Italy, but has since spread to the rest of the country and beyond. The dish is traditionally made by deboning a whole pig and stuffing it with herbs, seasoning, and wine, then slow roasting it. The resulting meat is beautifully tender with crispy skin thanks to the rendered fat. For those without time to roast a whole pig, a pork belly rolled up with herbs and sometimes prosciutto gives a similarly delicious effect.

We went the pork belly route, with prosciutto, fennel, pepper, garlic, marjoram, and parsley. We rolled everything together, tied it with twine, and roasted at 500 degrees for 40 minutes (or until the smoke alarm gets too annoying), then 350 until the meat is done. If you want even more crispiness on the outside, you can crank the heat back up at the end.

We loved this dish. We also loved that the leftovers made delicious sandwiches for several days afterward, which makes it the perfect Christmas dinner.

Interested in learning about more international Christmas traditions? Follow our 12 Days of Imported Christmas:

Twelve Days of Imported Christmas

  1. The First Day: Chichilaki—Georgia’s Shaved Christmas Tree
  2. The Second Day: Lotería de Navidad—Spain’s Communal Christmas Lottery
  3. The Third Day: Stargazy Pie—Cornwall’s Town-Saving Fish Dish
  4. The Fourth Day: Rellenong Manok—The Phillipines’ Elaborately Stuffed Christmas Chicken
  5. The Fifth Day: Himmeli—Finland’s Geometric Straw Ornaments
  6. The Sixth Day: Figgy Pudding—England’s Fiery Festive Centerpiece
  7. The Seventh Day: Glückspilz—Germany’s Lucky Mushroom
  8. The Eighth Day: Pumpple Cake—Philadelphia’s Quadruple Dessert
  9. The Ninth Day: Porchetta—Italy’s Decadent Pork Centerpiece
  10. The Tenth Day: Julkalender—Sweden’s Serialized TV Christmas Countdown
  11. The Eleventh Day: Peppermint Pig—Saratoga’s Shattered Sow
  12. The Twelfth Day: Ursul—Romania’s Bear Dance Festival

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