Sous Vide Porchetta
Why This Recipe Works
Traditionally, Italian porchetta is a whole pig that is spit-roasted to produce fall-apart tender, rich pieces of slow-cooked pork, aromatic with garlic, fennel seeds, rosemary, and thyme. It's served with pieces of crisp skin on a crusty roll. Seeing as most people don't have a rotisserie in their kitchen, or access to whole pigs, porchetta is a tricky recipe to adapt for cooking at home. After testing a few different cuts, we settled on pork butt, which is cut from the upper portion of the shoulder and has a good amount of fat to keep the meat moist and flavorful without making it over the top decadent (as can be the case with pork belly, another common choice). We cut the pork butt in half to allow for even seasoning and easy slicing when serving. We seasoned both pieces with salt and then rubbed them down with a simple garlic-herb paste before sending them to the water bath. A low-and-slow sous vide bath allowed the collagen in the meat to transform into moisture-retaining gelatin. This kept the roast juicy and tender but still sliceable. Once the pork had finished cooking in the water bath, we quickly blasted it in a hot oven to crisp up and brown the fat cap to mimic traditional porchetta's crispy pork skin. In sum? Roast pork just got a whole lot better. Pork butt roast is often labeled Boston butt in the supermarket.