New York restaurateur Michael White is known for his gorgeous ribbons of pastas offered at his restaurants Marea and Osteria Morini among others. What isn't quite as well known? His deep affection for Asian flavors.
So what does a chef who is known for Italian food do? He takes an Italian classic, porchetta, and replaces the traditional fennel and rosemary with a five-spice mixture and an herb paste made of cilantro, garlic and Thai bird's eye chile and serves it with a sweet and spicy sambal sauce.
We decided to grill the porchetta, which imparts a lovely, slightly smoky flavor while still achieving the prized crackly skin that makes the traditional Italian roast so delicious.
To learn more, read "The Showstopper: Asian-Style Porchetta."
Grilled Asian-Style Porchetta
Recipe adapted from Michael White
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours and 40 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours and 20 minutes
For the Sauce:
½ cup apricot jam
½ cup plum jam
1½ tablespoons sambal
2-inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
For the Spice Mixture:
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
¼ teaspoon clove
For the Herb Paste:
4 cloves garlic
4 cups packed cilantro
3 Thai birds eye chiles
For the Porchetta:
1 5-pound skin-on pork belly
1 3-pound pork loin, trimmed
Salt, to taste
1. Make the sauce: In a medium mixing bowl, combine all of the sauce ingredients and stir. Set aside until ready to use.
2. Make the spice mixture: In a small saucepan over medium heat, toast the spices, while continuously swirling the pan, until they become fragrant, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder and grind until finely ground.
3. Make the herb paste: In a food processor, grind the garlic, cilantro and chiles until smooth. Transfer the paste to a small bowl and set aside.
4. Make the pork: Lay the pork belly skin-side-down on a cutting board. Trim the pork belly so that it can wrap the around the loin with a 1-inch overlap (this is to encase the loin and protect it from drying out). Using a chefs knife, carve a ½-inch-deep crosshatch pattern inside the belly. Rub the spice mixture and herb paste all over the belly and loin and season aggressively with salt. Place the loin in the center of the belly and begin to roll belly around loin. Tie the porchetta crosswise using kitchen twine at ½-inch intervals. Allow the porchetta to sit out at room temperature for 2 hours before grilling.
5. Meanwhile, build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill until it registers around 325°. Fill a foil pan halfway with water. Move the charcoal to one side of the grill and place the foil pan next to the charcoal. Place the top grate on the grill and put the porchetta on the grate over the foil pan. Close the lid of the grill, and open the top and bottom grill vents. Position the lid so that the top grill vent is on the opposite side of the fire.
6. Cook the porchetta, maintaining a temperature 325° to 350° in the grill by replenishing charcoal when needed, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the roast reaches 130°. Move the porchetta directly over the coals. Using tongs, turn the porchetta frequently until the skin begins to blister and is crisp all over, for about 10 minutes. Remove the porchetta and transfer to a platter. Let the porchetta rest for 10 minutes before carving. Serve with the sambal sauce.