Porchetta is an unctuous, delicious, mouthful of porky goodness. My favorite twist on takes it to the next level though! Semi-cure the pork belly to get a twist on an Italian classic!
In this recipe, we’re going to “half cure” pork belly for 3 days to give it a bacon flavor but still leave the texture of amazing pork belly. If you like, you can purchase a whole pork belly, using half for this for this delicious and leaving the other half in the cure mixture for another 3 days, then slow smoke it for the best bacon you’ll ever eat!
While Porchetta is traditionally made with skin on pork belly, this skinless version makes a wonderfully flavorful version that will go great as an entrée, appetizer, or my favorite way- a sandwich!
Take pork belly and cut in half forming 2 squares. Sprinkle Sugar Cure on each side and rub in. (You can cure pork belly without using Sodium Nitrite (in the cure mix,) but it is much safer if you use it, so I definitely recommend it.) In a small bowl, mix brown sugar, maple syrup, ancho chili powder and oregano, and whisk. Slather on both sides of each pork belly piece. Place pork belly pieces in a resealable bag (if you can find a 2 gallon or larger one) or container and refrigerate. Rotate and flip each 24 hours.
After 3 days remove pork belly and rinse each piece thoroughly. If you do not rinse well the (or bacon) will be too salty due to the sugar cure.
Lay pork belly “skin” side down on a large cutting board. Lightly score the meat side with diamond cuts to allow the seasoning to penetrate. Lightly sprinkle with grilling seasoning, then coat well with the herb mix. Lay out the prosciutto, then lay the pork tenderloin on the pork belly. Lightly sprinkle tenderloin with seasoning, and wrap the pork belly tightly around it. Use cooking twine to tie up tightly. Season the exterior of the pork belly lightly but evenly with grilling seasoning.
Place in smoker with apple wood pellets (recommended) at 250 degrees. Smoke for 6 hours, or until internal temperature reaches around 175 degrees. Remove and allow to rest for 20 minutes, then slice and serve. Also, this is outstanding as “leftovers.” Cool it down, then slice thinly and sear in a hot skillet. Serve as sandwiches with arugula and garlic-thyme aioli.
*Sugar cure is available from some outdoor stores or online sausage supply stores, or you can substitute with “Tender Quick.”
Melissa’s Tip: This is definitely a time consuming dish, but the results will be worth it! You can easily omit the curing phase and still get a great dish by simply following the seasoning and cooking instructions with uncured pork belly.