Traditional porchetta calls for deboning a whole pig, stuffing it with a mixture of liver, garlic, wild fennel, and herbs, then slowly roasted over a wood fire—which is why we’ve never attempted one. Even the stripped-down version—basically a stuffed and rolled pork shoulder or belly—takes a good amount of work and skill to pull off.
Our version has all the flavors (garlic, fennel, herbs) and textures (unctuous with bits of crunchy skin) we want out of porchetta, but takes less than 5 minutes to prepare before a long, slow roast inside a Field Skillet. To be honest, the properties of cast iron don’t do much to enhance the pork here, but rather the properties of the pork (lots of fat) will do a lot for your skillet’s seasoning.
We like to time our roast so it’s just finished cooking when guests arrive for dinner—it fills the home with a most-appetizing aroma—but you can also make it earlier in the day and let it rest for a few hours before it’s ready to serve.
Skin-on pork shoulder is going to give you the crispy cracklings that make porchetta so amazing, but if you can’t find one, ask your butcher for a shoulder with a good amount of fat on top.
Both bone-in and boneless pork shoulders work well, but the former will take awhile longer to cook.
Recipe: Porchetta-Style Pork Shoulder
One 7- to 8-pound bone-in, skin-on pork shoulder (Boston butt), or one 6- to 7-pound boneless pork shoulder
6 garlic cloves, smashed
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ cup fresh rosemary needles
¼ cup sage leaves sage leaves
1 tablespoon kosher salt
¾ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
The Field Method for Cast Iron Care
If using a skin-on pork shoulder, use a box cutter or other sharp, stout blade to score the skin into a 1-inch crosshatch pattern, being careful not to cut too deeply into the meat. If using a boneless pork shoulder, trim the fat to about ¼ inch, then lightly score the fat into a 1-inch crosshatch pattern.
In a food processor, combine the garlic, herbs, spices, and lemon zest. Pulse until finely chopped. Add the olive oil and pulse until a paste forms. Rub the spice mixture all over the pork. Wrap the pork in plastic and refrigerate overnight. Remove from the refrigerator 1 to 2 hours before you’re ready to cook.
Preheat the oven to 450°F and place a rack in the center. If using a boneless pork shoulder, use butcher’s twine to tie it into a log (here’s a tutorial). Place the pork, fatty side up, in a No.10 Field Skillet. If using a bone-in pork shoulder, place the pork in the skillet, skin side up.
Roast the pork shoulder for 30 minutes, then lower the heat to 325°F and continue roasting, rotating the skillet occasionally, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the roast reads 180°F, 2½ to 3½ hours longer (bone-in shoulders will take longer to cook than boneless).
Transfer the pork to a cutting board (use any leftover juices for making gravy) and let rest until ready to slice and serve, at least 30 minutes and up to a few hours. If resting for a few hours, you can rewarm the pork in a 350°F oven for about 10 minutes.
Seasoning Rating: Better
Pork shoulder renders loads of fat while it roasts, which is excellent for building up seasoning.
Best—These dishes are the best options for building resilient seasoning, and surefire choices for getting tricky pans back on track.
Better—The best way to keep your skillet in great shape is to cook frequently, and cast iron-friendly dishes like these are your bread and butter.
Safe—These recipes won't strip seasoning away from your pan, but won't really add any, either.
OK—Be sure to clean up promptly. Recipes with this rating might feature acidic ingredients which can affect seasoning if not washed soon after cooking.