This pork loin in the style of porchetta is an Italian classic that blends pork loin with a pork shoulder, fennel, and rosemary filling, to make an impressive, celebration-worthy entrée.
Pork loin in the style of porchetta is a mash-up of arista, the traditional pork loin roast from Tuscany that’s spit-roasted with garlic and rosemary, and another Italian classic, porchetta, which is a nearly boneless whole suckling pig stuffed with seasoned meat and rubbed with rosemary. It’s where pork loin and porchetta meet and it’s a beautiful place to experience. See you there.–Renee Schettler Rossi
☞ Table of Contents
Pork Loin in the Style of Porchetta
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus more more for drizzling
- 1 medium (7 oz) onion thinly sliced
- 1 medium (8 oz) fennel bulb trimmed, fronds reserved and chopped, bulb thinly sliced
- 2 pounds ground pork shoulder or sweet Italian sausage (as our commenter Alan suggested below)
- 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
- 2 tablespoons chopped rosemary leaves
- 6 cloves garlic thinly sliced
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- One (4-pound) boneless pork loin roast butterflied (have the butcher do this)
- 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
- 2 large eggs lightly beaten
- 4 medium (about 2 lbs) red onions cut in half
- 1 lemon halved
- In a 10- to 12-inch saute pan, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil over medium-high heat until smoking. Add the sliced onion and fennel and saute until softened and lightly browned, 7 to 8 minutes.
- Add the ground pork or sweet Italian sausage, fennel seeds, rosemary, garlic, and 1 to 2 tablespoons pepper (depending on your taste), and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pork is no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).
- Meanwhile, place the pork loin flat on your work surface and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Add all but 1 tablespoon of the fennel fronds, the bread crumbs, and eggs to the pork mixture and mix gently. Spread the mixture over the pork loin. Roll it up, starting from a long side, like a jelly roll, and tie with butcher's twine.
☞TESTER TIP: To prevent the filling from squishing out the ends, poke several long skewers through the porchetta near both ends to help close them before tying with twine.
- Scatter the red onions in a roasting pan and place the pork loin on top. Drizzle the pork and onions with olive oil and rub to coat. Roast for 75 minutes, or until the internal temperature is 135°F (57°C).
- Remove the pork loin from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes.
- Slice the pork loin into 1-inch-thick pieces. Serve the pork drizzled with the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil and a good squeeze of lemon, garnished with the reserved fennel fronds, and with the onions on the side. (You can toss any leftovers in the fridge and slice them thin for the king of sandwiches the next day.)
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This is the kind of pork loin dish that I would automatically make twice as much of, just so that I could hide half and have it the next day, without having to share it with guests. I knew before I even started that I would like this, it totally pushed all of my buttons; pork, fennel, rosemary. But I had no idea, that on the same plate, they would come together to be one of the most memorable meals I’ve had in months. I’ll be dreaming about this one for a while yet.
Leftovers make a KILLER sandwich. I made a big mess of sauteed rapini, just so I could pile that on the sammie as well.
This is one of those fabulously creative pork loin recipes that allows you to make an otherwise daunting dish easily at home! A traditional porchetta is a labor-intensive Italian dish that most people associate with a fine Italian sandwich shop or authentic street vendor in Tuscany. I was excited to have a simple recipe that truly encapsulates the classic flavors of a porchetta (fennel, garlic, and rosemary) in an approachable recipe.
Here, a boneless pork loin in filled with a fragrant stuffing made with a sauté of onion, fennel, garlic, ground pork, herbs, fennel seeds, and bread crumbs and roasted in a hot oven so that the outside gets browned and crisp, and the inside moist and tender. Beautifully sliced and arranged on a plate with olive oil mashed potatoes and roasted fall vegetables, this porchetta-style pork loin was a hit!
As for the recipe itself, it definitely feeds more than 4 people. My stuffed 4-pound pork loin easily fed 6 hungry people. I ended up with way too much filling for the butterflied pork. I would like to try making this with only about 1 pound of ground pork to see if that would suffice.
I thought the addition of the fresh bread crumbs and egg to the cooled filling really helped make the stuffing bind together and become a true “stuffing” texture inside of the rolled pork.
The only couple of things I would suggest altering with the recipe would be to season the outside of the rolled pork with salt and pepper after it is tied and ready to go into the hot oven. Also, with the pork going into such a hot oven for its entire cooking time, I would suggest drizzling a couple tablespoons olive oil over the prepared pork loin before popping it into the oven; this should ensure a crispy browned crust! Also, because the heat is high and steady the entire time, I added some white wine to the pan about halfway through its overall cooking time. I wanted to ensure a moist interior for the porchetta. Both of these changes worked well for me when making this dish!
Everyone thought this meal was excellent, even though I cooked the roast a little longer than I should have, and plates all came back to the kitchen clean!
This was my first attempt at a porchetta-style roast, and I had an opportunity to feed more than just the two of us, so was very excited to try this one. The flavors of all the components were really good, so it was well worth the total 3 1/2-hour process involved in preparing this dish.
My butcher happily butterflied the pork loin for me, which left the meat pretty thick when it was laid out. When the instructions called to roll the roast up starting from a long side, it didn’t work. My roast would only roll up without a battle from the short side. I added as much filling as I could get away with and the resulting roast was huge. I should have started checking the roast’s temp at 50 minutes to better gauge the timing).
Next time, I would only prepare half of the sausage filling to minimize waste.
I did add some baby potatoes to the pan to make a full pan dinner, so I did toss the veggies with olive oil, salt, and pepper and they were melt-in-your-mouth wonderful, especially as they mingled in the pan with the roast’s flavorful juices, which is what I ended up drizzling over the sliced roast!
This is not something quick you would want to make for a weeknight dinner, but for a special meal, it does make a very impressive, tasty, and noteworthy entrée! I rounded out the meal with a simple green salad with lemon vinaigrette and Parmesan shavings, warm rolls, and an apple crostata for dessert.
I approached this porchetta recipe with caution. I live in a Northern Ontario town that considers “porketta” to be our signature dish and has nothing in common with this one. So much fennel and absolutely no dill? How could I possibly serve this to anyone without becoming a virtual porchetta pariah? I likely wouldn’t even be allowed to attend porketta bingo again.
Fortunately, the outstanding flavor of the dish, even without dill or a peppery crust, convinced the most stubborn of my guests. The tenderloin didn’t dry out as I had feared; the outer layer developed a crisp crackle while the inside was perfectly juicy. And the ground pork shoulder filling was excellent. All in all, it was a huge success.
The only thing I would add next time is to put carrots in with the onions in the pan, I think they would be delicious! Oh…and maybe a little dill? It certainly doesn’t need it but it might just keep the peace.
Originally published December 22, 2020