Saturday, July 5, 2008

Porkette the way Mom and Aunt Carmella made it

I've been meaning to get this recipe down in print. It comes from watching my mom make it and then later asking my Aunt Carmella Russo why her version had an especially good flavor. You don't have to be on top of this every minute while it's cooking, but it is an all day at home and into the evening recipe.

At least 6 hours of cooking time (8 hours is better)
1 three pound pork roast - the best is the kind in the elastic netting
1 bulb of garlic (not 1 clove, 1 bulb - using 2 bulbs won't hurt)
1 bunch of celery
1 bunch of parsley (fresh is best but dried can substitute)
1 bunch of rosemary (fresh is best but dried can substitute)
1 tablespoon of worcestershire sauce
Salt, Pepper, and a handful of Flour

Peel the cloves of garlic and wash the rosemary while you preheat the oven to 425. Stuff the whole cloves of garlic and the rosemary into the slits in the roast. The elastic netting roast is made up of pieces of deboned pork so there are gaps into which you can stuff the garlic. If you use another kind of pork roast you have to cut slits into which to stuff the garlic and rosemary.
Salt and pepper the outside of the roast fairly heavily and then roll it in the flour to coat the outside.
Put the roast in a dry oven pan and roast for 1 hour at 425, then roll the meat over and roast for another half-hour or so at 425.
Lower the oven temp to 325, put the bunch of parsley under the roast and pour enough water into the roasting pan to cover the roast about 1/4th to 1/3rd deep (depending on how wide the pan is). Wash and strip the strings out of the celery (don't go crazy about it because you're going to be cutting this celery crosswise later), split the celery stalks in half, and put them in the water around the roast. Roast for 2 hours at 325, turning the roast over every hour or so. Then lower the oven temp to 275 and roast for 2 more hours, again turning the roast over every hour or so.

If you started at about noon it's now near 5:00 PM so it's almost time for dinner. It's hard to steal some of the big roast out of the netting, but if you had the foresight to cook a half-pound or so chunk of pork (or a couple of pork chops) in with the big roast this would be a good time to make some mashed potatoes, and some gravy from part of the water and drippings around the roast. Enjoy a dinner of the little piece of pork and the mashed potatoes while the netted roast continues cooking at 275 for another hour. Then turn the oven off and leave the roast in the oven for another hour or so while you digest the meal.

Remove the roast from the oven and let it cool long enough so you won't burn your fingers when you cut and strip the netting off it. The netting is great but it's tough to remove and the process is sure to be messy. But you shouldn't have started this recipe if you have a problem with greasy fingers and a few grease splashes on your clothes, the top of the stove, the counters, and the floor around the stove.

Pour the drippings and water from the roasting pan in a big enough pot to hold them and the pork and put it on a burner turned to low. Put the netting which is still crusted with browned flower and the outer fat from the roast into a smaller sauce pan with a couple of glasses of water and put that on a burner turned to medium. Throw the sprigs of rosemary into the saucepan with the netting as you find them inside the roast.
After the chunks of the roast have cooled enough to pull them apart by hand pull the pork into strings and put the strings of meat into the pot with the drippings, along with the cloves of garlic which are now so soft that they will disintegrate into mush as you squeeze them. Cut the celery and the leafy tops of the parsley crosswise and throw those into the pot also.
Throw away the grosser pieces of fat and gristle and such - old timers used to throw that stuff in the pot too, but we're conscious of cholesterol now and throwing that stuff away will let you maintain the barest fig leaf of an illusion that you're making the porchetta healthier.
Add the tablespoon of Worcestershire Sauce to the pot with the pork with thanks to Aunt Carmella Russo for revealing this secret ingredient. Also pour in the water that has now boiled all the flavor out of the netting and pick any remaining pieces of meat and any crushable mush of browned flour out of the netting.

Bring the pot of pulled pork to a boil and test it by putting a generous helping on a medium kaiser roll and enjoying an evening snack. If you think the resulting sandwich needs salt and pepper add a level teaspoon of salt and a half teaspoon of pepper to the pot. Add some olive oil to the pot if the mouth feel is not silky enough.

Refrigerate the whole pot overnight if this is for a picnic tomorrow, or separate the meat and liquids into six or eight freezer containers and put them in the refrigerator overnight before freezing them if this is for a series of meals at home. A three pound pork roast will make about 15 to 20 sandwiches on medium kaiser rolls.

A word about kaiser rolls. Get them from a real bakery like Corropolese or Bakemeister or Sarcones and ask the counter guy to put them in a paper bag. A kaiser roll that has seen the inside of a plastic bag is barely suitable for feeding to birds let alone eating yourself.

A word about healthiness. Grandpop and Grandmom Luzi ate this with the fat. They also ate truly serious cholesterol builders like suffrete and sota panzetta. Yet they lived in good health into their mid-eighties. Of course they only ate fatty stuff like that a few times a year. Most of the year they ate nearly meatless meals of pasta and greens and beans.

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