Recipe for Stuffed Porchetta – a beautiful pork belly roast for Christmas day

about 1,5 kg boneless pork belly
250 g smoked streaky bacon
30 ml olive oil
1 small onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, sliced
about 2 tablespoons chopped herbs (like thyme & sage)

For the stuffing:
15 ml olive oil
200 g baby spinach
250 g ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
a pinch of ground nutmeg
salt & pepper

How to
To make the stuffing: heat the oil in a large pan, then fry the spinach over high heat until just wilted, stirring often. Remove from the heat, drain the excess liquid from the pan, then place in a food processor along with the ricotta, parmesan and nutmeg. Season generously with salt & pepper, then process to a thick pulp. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 170 C. Place the pork belly on a clean working surface, skin side up. Use a very sharp knife to remove the tough outer layer of skin (save it for making crackling later, if you want to). Turn the belly over, widest side facing you – you want to roll it up to form a long/narrow log, not a short/fat log.

Arrange the stuffing horizontally in the middle of the belly from side to side, then roll the belly up with the seam on the bottom. Arrange slivers of streaky bacon diagonally over the top, overlapping slightly.

Use pieces of kitchen string to neatly secure the roll at about 3 cm intervals, knotting them at the top and snipping the loose ends.

Drizzle a deep medium-size roasting tray with olive oil, then arrange the onions, garlic and herbs on the bottom. Place the prepared pork roll on top of this in the middle of the tray. Roast for 3 hours at 170 C (if the meat/veg get too dark, cover lightly with foil).

Remove from the oven and let it rest for at least 10 minutes before carving.

Serve hot with pan-fried green vegetables, roast potatoes or mash (or cauliflower puree) and a drizzle of pan juices.

Note: If you love a thicker gravy, remove the meat from the tray after roasting and bring the pan juices to a boil over the stove top, scraping any brown bits. Add some lamb or chicken stock (about 250 ml), a splash of dry white wine and cook, stirring. Mix some of the hot liquid with a spoonful of flour and a spoonful of butter, then return the paste to the pan and stir to make a smooth, slightly thickened gravy. Add salt & pepper to taste, then pour in a jug and serve with the porchetta.

Recipe courtesy of The Food Fox. Visit the blog for more delicious recipes. Recipe copyright – Ilse van der Merwe. Photo copyright – Tasha Seccombe.

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