One of Italy’s most famous and popular pork meals, porchetta is traditionally prepared by seasoning a whole deboned pig with herbs and spices, rolling it, and then slow-roasting it on a spit. The outcome is an ideal harmony of crisp skin, soft fat, and luscious meat. My pulled pork sandwiches are a no-deboning-required homage to this classic meal.
A pork shoulder roast is a good substitute for a whole hog since it has a lot of meat and not too much fat. Generously seasoned with rosemary, sage, fennel, black pepper, lemon zest, parsley, and garlic powder, the heart is butterflied before being cooked. Taking a page out of the barbecue rub playbook, garlic powder improves the meat’s absorption of the other flavors while contributing a softer, less intense garlicky taste. The roast is marinated overnight, browned, and then pressure cooked in chicken stock, white wine, and onion until fork tender.
After being roasted, the pig is shredded into large, meaty chunks and then crisped in part of the rendered fat, mimicking the crunchiness of the pork skin in the original dish. Wrap it in arugula and quick-pickled Fresno peppers, then pile it into crusty ciabatta bread for a balanced bite that cuts through the meat’s richness. Some of the jus can be served on the side for dipping if you want to make a porchetta dip.
- Fennel seeds, one tablespoon plus one and a half tablespoons
- Black pepper, about one teaspoonful
- 1/2 tsp. + 1 tbsp of garlic powder
- One tablespoon plus three-quarters of a teaspoon of kosher salt, plus more to taste
- Ten fresh rosemary sprigs
- Fresh sage, five sprigs
- 1/4 pound of dried parsley
- Three small limes
- Roasted pork shoulder, 3 pounds, boneless
- One big onion, either white or yellow
- Four teaspoons of butter
- 1 cup of chicken broth without salt
- 1/4 glass of dry white wine
- 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
- 1-and-a-half teaspoons of white sugar
- Red jalapenos or six medium-sized Fresno peppers
- Eight rolls of ciabatta
- Two and a half ounces of baby arugula
- Prepare medium-high heat in a small skillet—Fennel seeds, one tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons, and whole black peppercorns, one teaspoon. Toast the fennel seeds for 30 seconds to 1 1/2 minutes, while stirring constantly, until they begin to turn light golden brown and become aromatic. After ten minutes, pour through a spice grinder.
- While it is going on, prepare these things and put them in the same little bowl: Use two teaspoons of fresh rosemary leaves you picked from 10 sprigs. Sage leaves to 1 tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons should be selected from 5 sprigs and coarsely chopped.
- Coarsely grind the spices in a food processor and add them to the bowl of herbs. Toss in the kosher salt and garlic powder (1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons).
- To make 1/2 cup of chopped parsley, choose the leaves from 1/2 medium bunch. Move to another little bowl. Zest 1 medium lemon and grate it into the bowl (you should have approximately one tablespoon’s worth). Use your fingers to combine, separating any lemon zest clumps that may have formed.
- The pork shoulder is prepared by slicing a boneless, skinless 3-pound roast in half lengthwise. Put the side that is shorter and closest to you. Cut into the pork about an inch above the cutting board on one side, cutting horizontally and stopping about an inch from the opposite side.
- Make a book out of the roast. Cut horizontally in the same direction many times, starting at the “fold” of the book and ending until you’re about an inch from the other side. Keep going until you have a single slice of pork approximately an inch thick. (Watch this helpful video.)
- Press 2/3 of the spice mixture (about 1/4 cup) into the pork on the sliced side until evenly distributed. The lemon-parsley combination should be sprinkled on top in its entirety. Re-form the pork into a roast by rolling it up. (If the section is too lengthy to fit a single layer in the pressure cooker, divide it in half.) Use some kitchen thread to bind the roast together. Use the leftover seasoning blend to season the entire dish. Please put it in a big plastic bag with a zip top. Put the bag in the fridge for at least 8 hours, ideally 24.
- Cut one big onion in half lengthwise, peel it, and then slice it very thinly.
- Two teaspoons of olive oil should be heated to a shimmering temperature in an electric pressure cooker or Instant Pot set to the highest Sauté setting. Sear the pork for 3 to 4 minutes per side or until browned. Move to a serving dish.
- Stir in the onions, 1 cup of low-sodium chicken broth, and 1/2 cup of dry white wine while scraping up the browned pieces from the bottom of the saucepan with a wooden spoon. Get it to a low boil. Put the pork and any fluids collected on the dish back in the pan. The pressure cooker must be turned off.
- Make sure the valve is in the sealed position, and the lid is locked. Cook for 75 minutes at HIGH pressure. The time required to reach full force is around 9 minutes. Pickle the peppers as you wait.
- Whisk together a quarter cup of red wine vinegar, one and a half teaspoons of granulated sugar, and three-quarters of a teaspoon of kosher salt until the sugar and salt are dissolved in a medium bowl. Slice six Fresno peppers very thinly. Put in the bowl and mix everything. Stir once or twice while the meat is cooking, then set aside.
- When the cooking time is up, please wait 20 minutes for the pressure to release on its own. Throw the pork on a baking sheet with a lip and set it aside to cool for 15 minutes. In the meantime, transfer the onions and cooking liquid to a medium heatproof dish or glass measuring cup that holds 4 cups. Remove the top layer of fat by spooning it into a separate bowl.
- Discard the kitchen twine by cutting it off. Shred the meat into large pieces using two forks. Simmer three tablespoons of the lard until it shimmers in a large pan over medium heat. Throw in the beef and spread it out in a single layer. Leave undisturbed for 3–5 minutes or until the bottom is crisp and browned. Toss in the onions and 3/4 cup of the cooking liquid you set aside. About 2 minutes should be enough time for the liquid to evaporate and cover the meat. Take the pan off the stove. Try it out, and add kosher salt if it needs it.
- Use a serrated knife to cut eight ciabatta bread in half horizontally. Cut the lemon you set aside in halves. Put approximately 3/4 cup of the pork on the bottom of each roll, sprinkle with as much or as little of the pickled peppers as you like, then top with a handful of baby arugula as you want. Top with arugula and a few drops of lemon juice, and you have a delicious sandwich. Halve it if you like.