Steven Zimmerman Executive Chef
Porchetta is a favorite of Sheraton Crescent’s newly appointed Executive Chef Steven Zimmerman.
This fall, Chef Zimmerman plans to reinvent the Indigo Bistro menu by bringing more regional fare and comfort foods into the restaurant’s dining options. He also plans to incorporate the farm-to-table approach by embracing local partners and using more locally sourced products. His team is also in the process of growing a garden on the Sheraton Crescent hotel grounds that will yield seasonal ingredients and showcase the freshness of the products offered at the hotel.
While Chef Zimmerman doesn’t have one favorite ingredient, he instead favors ingredients that are fresh from the garden while keeping cuisine simple, elegant and clean. As Chef Zimmerman has matured with his culinary skills, he prefers to showcase the freshness of the ingredients and use the “less is more” approach.
By: Executive Chef Steven Zimmerman, Sheraton Crescent
Porchetta is the king of all pork roasts. I have seen it made with everything from suckling pig to whole hog down to pork butt, collar or loin. The secret to this dish is an appropriate amount of garlic, fennel pollen and rosemary, along with a proper rubbing of salt and two peppers. It must then be slow-roasted until the skin is crackling and the inner meat is tender and juicy.
Total Time: 5 hours, plus 1 to 2 hours for marinating
Active Time: 3 ½ to 4 hours
Servings: 20 to 25 people
- 1 (10 pound) skin-on pork belly
- 1 (3–4 pound) boneless pork collar (marinated in maple brine see recipe below)
- 12 to 14 whole cloves garlic, crushed and coarsely chopped
- ¼ cup chopped fennel seeds or fennel pollen
- 1/8 cup finely chopped thyme
- ¼ cup minced sage
- 4 or 5 rosemary sprigs
- 3 tablespoons lemon zest
- ½ cup olive oil, divided
- Sea salt or herb infused salt (heavily seasoned to taste)
- Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- Red pepper flakes, to taste
MAPLE BRINE RECIPE
- 1 cup maple syrup
- 1 quart water
- ¼ cup Kosher salt
Mix and let pork marinate 1 to 2 hours.
- If fennel pollen is not available place fennel seeds into the bowl of a food chopper and pulse until seeds are finely chopped and at least half powder, set aside.
- Lay pork belly, meat side up, in a large baking pan and trim off a 2-inch wide fat layer leaving skin intact to create a closing seam over long end of pork belly.
- Using a paring knife, score pork belly by cutting 2 to 3 inch long slits all over the belly meat, taking care not to cut through the skin.
- Then flip over and cut score sides long way through the skin only, set aside.
- In a small bowl, mix together chopped fennel seeds, garlic, thyme, sage and rosemary.
- Drizzle meat side of pork belly with ¼ cup olive oil.
- Rub half of seasoning mixture well into the pork belly then season generously with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.
- Place the marinated pork collar in the center of belly meat and drizzle with remaining olive oil.
- Rub pork collar with remaining seasoning mixture and then season well with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.
- Wrap belly around the collar, sealing it tightly.
- Tie it shut at 1-inch intervals with butcher’s twine.
- Lightly brush the skin of the porchetta with olive oil and sprinkle the roast liberally with coarse sea salt and the two peppers.
- Double wrap the roast tightly with clear plastic wrap and then double wrap tightly with aluminum foil.
- Place wrapped meat in refrigerator for at least 24 hours or up to three days.
- When ready to cook, remove roast from refrigerator and leave meat wrapped in plastic and foil.
- Place a digital thermometer through the foil into the center end of the pork collar. This will ensure an accurate reading in the center of the collar when roasting.
- Allow roast to sit at room temperature for one hour prior to placing in oven.
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Cook roast until internal temperature reaches 140°F, approximately 3 to 4 hours.
- Remove roast from oven and increase oven temperature to 425°F.
- Carefully remove foil and plastic wrap from cooked roast and transfer to a large cookie sheet, reserving pan drippings.
- Return porchetta to the oven and cook until skin browns and crisps, turning frequently.
- Remove from oven and let rest on the counter for about 30 to 45 minutes.
- To serve, thinly slice porchetta and serve on crusty bread as a sandwich or slice into ¾ to1-inch slices and serve with roasted potatoes and vegetables along with pan drippings, as an entrée.
- Be sure to include pieces of the crispy skin alongside the roast.
- Maralyn D. Hill
Maralyn D. Hill, The Epicurean Explorer
President, International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association
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