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Dec 28, 2011 02:38 PM

Porchetta help!

I'm making my first porchetta for new year's eve. Planning on using Bon Appetit's recipe,, which calls for a 5-6 lb pork belly and 2-3 lb pork loin to feed 12-15 people. Then I look at Saveur's porchetta recipe,, and it calls for 12-15 pounds of pork belly and 3-5 lbs of pork loin - nearly THREE TIMES as much meat - and says that it only feeds 10-14 people! What gives? I've got 14 people to feed, and no idea how much I need to buy.

Also, Bon Appetit recommends high heat first, followed by low; while Saveur recommends the opposite (cook till done at low heat, then broil to crisp the skin). I was thinking of doing the low and slow cooking the day before and then just doing the broiling the evening of. Does that seem reasonable?

Finally, Bon Appetit says to cook to an internal temp of 145 degress, Saveur says 130 degrees, and another recipe (at, though it's for an all-belly porchetta) says to go all the way to 160. Help!


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  1. I find the Saveur recipe for Porchetta and Chinese Roast Pig to be excellent.... I haven't tried the others.

    Also, I'm a low and slow guy myself. Even if the recipe calls for anything above 300* still gets roasted at 225* in my kitchen.

    btw...if you want crispy skin, read about scalding the skin with boiling water and baking soda in Saveur. It makes a great result.

    2 Replies
    1. re: fourunder

      So, having made the Saveur recipe, how many people did it feed? Seems like a TON of meat to feed only 10-14 people, but perhaps more fat renders out than I'm thinking.

      1. re: monopod

        When entertaining, I do not consider portion size, rather, I worry that I have made enough and seconds are available. Pork is generally pretty reasonable, 3 bucks for the loin and 3.50/lb for the belly. all in, you are looking at 50 least what's available to me on a daily basis. I do not make one roast exclusively...there are always other items available....even if it a simple lasagna. Maybe I'm not the best one to recommend a centerpiece roast size and portion.

        Hams are usually on sale after each holiday. My area market has them for 1.59 a pound. Maybe you should consider that as a compliment.

        I generally purchase a whole loin for 20-30 bucks and an approximate 18 inch slab of pork belly...with ribs attached that I remove.. It usually comes in at 8-10 pounds. i save the ribs for my Sunday Gravy.

        The smallest, or thinnest slice I would serve is a 3/4 inch (14 serving > 10.5 inches). A 15 inch belly is the smallest I would wrap around the loin.

    2. I did the BA recipe for Christmas but I used a whole belly and a whole pork loin. I was expecting 18 so I wanted plenty. It looked like a leg laying on the counter, I cut it in half and it pretty much filled a half sheet pan.

      I doubt that the recipe as written would feed 14 hungry people. I'd do 1.5 times the recipe for your crowd. The beauty is that you can cook the whole thing a day ahead and just rewarm to serve. I did mine to 145/150 and it came out perfectly fine, be prepared for some smoky times during the high heat blast.

      7 Replies
      1. re: Scrapironchef

        Excellent, thanks. I ended up with a 5 lb loin and an 8.5 lb belly; it looks pretty huge, so I think we'll be good. Thanks for the tips!

        1. re: monopod

          I also thin sliced a fennel bulb and used it and blood oranges for the stuffing.

          1. re: monopod

            I'll be surprised if you can actually get that loin rolled into the belly, but look forward to hearing about it.

            The BA approach works fine, regarding the heat management. Regarding internal temp, I would bring it to a bit more than 145, so the fat has more time to render. (ETA: this was for a whole belly roast...not sure I'd go much higher with the loin in the middle)

            To avoid smoking the joint up when you're doing the initial sear at 500, you might consider putting some balled up aluminum foil in the bottom of the roasting pan. Fat will drip onto the (much cooler) tin foil and not immediately turn into smoke.

              1. re: tommy

                I actually had to trim some of the loin away to get a nice even roll, I have a couple of stir fry meals worth left.

            1. I made the BA porchetta for Christmas Day, followed the recipe pretty exactly. I cooked to an internal temp of 142 and had no dryness issues at all. I used an 8# belly and 4# loin for 5 people. We ate maybe 1/3 of the whole thing, and the sandwiches the next day were magnificent. The only problem we had was the smoking with the initial high heat roast. Oh well...worth it.

              1. Thanks for all the tips everyone! I picked up the meat last night; as predicted, it didn't quite fit into a neat roll, but in the interest of trimming as little as possible (since I've got a lot of people to feed) I forced it into something approximating a roast. (There's a half-inch gap in the skin at the seam, but otherwise it's pretty neat.)

                I used a hybrid of the Bon Appetit, Saveur and Serious Eats recipes - scored the belly on the meat side and pierced/pounded it on the skin side, then salted it and the loin and rubbed them with ground fennel seed, red pepper, black pepper, rosemary, sage, 12 cloves of Microplaned garlic, and a big lemon's worth of lemon zest, before tying the whole thing up and wrapping it in plastic. It's now sitting in the fridge until Saturday morning, when I plan to put it into a 300 degree oven (wrapped in foil, not plastic - I'm too scared of it melting to try Saveur's cook-while-wrapped-in-plastic-wrap technique) until it's 140 degrees in the center, then unwrap, rub with salt and baking powder, and sear at 500 degrees till crisp.

                Photo attached!

                5 Replies
                  1. re: monopod

                    I'm sure that approach with the heat will work, but I can tell you that I cooked this twice in the past two weeks, using the BA approach (poking a million holes in the skin, and tenderizing with a mallet), 500 for 40 minutes and then down to 300, and the skin was perfect. Curious to see if the opposite heat approach will work. I'm sure it will.

                    Nice job tying it up. I think the 140 mark is probably good (and maybe even a tad too much) since you'll be measuring the temp of the loin. There will be carry-over, but hopefully that won't bring it much above 145.

                    1. re: tommy

                      I like the high-heat-early approach and would probably do that in a perfect world, but I need some flexibility in when to serve it (it's a potluck kind of affair, unclear what time we'll actually be eating) and I like the idea of being able to start early, let it rest for a couple of hours if necessary, and then flame it at the last minute. That's how both Saveur and Serious Eats recommend doing it, so I assume it'll work fine too.

                      As far as temp, I've got three pregnant ladies eating it so I'm inclined to err on the side of being absolutely sure that it hits 145 in the center, given that that's the current UDSA "it's definitely safe" benchmark. I know, it's probably safe well below that, but I think pork at 145 is still quite juicy. Plus I want as much time as possible for the belly layer to render and firm up.

                      1. re: monopod

                        I find no fault with this analysis. :-)

                    2. Final report: the porchetta came out very nicely. 14 lbs turned out to be just about perfect for 14 people - we were at a rented cabin and didn't really want too much in the way of leftovers, and we ended up with only one slice left. (Each person got a large slice, maybe 3/4" thick and 8" diameter.) I roasted it at 300 degrees for 4-5 hours, until it hit 140 internal, then finished it at 500 degrees until the skin was browned. My only problem was that the belly wasn't quite as rendered as I would have liked on one end; it was really fatty still on those slices, I preferred the other end where the belly had rendered and become more meaty (though still plenty fatty). If I were to do it again, I'd probably roast it to a lower temp and then broil/sear it longer - I was concerned that I didn't want it to overcook, but it probably could've used another 10 minutes of searing to really brown the outside and render the fat (though the skin was plenty crisp in any case).

                      To avoid smoking out the cabin (which had no vent fan or even a window in the kitchen), we just used the gas BBQ grill for the final searing step - cranked it up until the thermometer read about 550, then put the whole roasting pan in there. There was a lot of smoke but it didn't matter because it was outside. Worked brilliantly, I must say.

                      Thanks for all the help!

                      1 Reply