Iron Range Porketta

Iron Range Porketta

Now you ask, what is Porketta? Porketta is a traditional seasoned meat from the Iron Range in Minnesota. It’s savory, fatty, and a moist boneless pork roast of Italian culinary tradition. The body of the pig is gutted, deboned, arranged carefully with layers of stuffing, meat, fat, and skin, then rolled, spitted, and roasted, traditionally over wood. Porketta is usually heavily salted in addition to being stuffed with garlic, rosemary, fennel, or other herbs. Evidently, if Porketta is done correctly the outside skin is crunchy and flavorful, and the inside melts in your mouth, providing an outer body experience as the garlic, rosemary, sage, and fennel explode in your mouth.  

Things I’ve learned so far when preparing and cooking a proper Porketta…

Use a Pork Shoulder Roast.

Have the Roast taken off the bone and cut so it lays flat.

There are some great Porketta recipes in various cookbooks; but my favorite is…

  • 3-4 lb. Pork Butt/Shoulder
  • ½ T. Salt
  • 2 T. Smoked Paprika
  • 2 T. Onion Powder
  • 2 T. Italian Seasoning
  • 1 T. Sugar
  • 12 Peeled Garlic Cloves, chopped
  • ⅓ cup Fresh Fennel greens, chopped
  • 2 T. Fresh Fennel Bulb,chopped 

Butterfly Pork Roast by making a vertical slice and then slicing on the left and the right bottom sides to open up roast. (If your not comfortable with butterflying ask your butcher to do it for you.) In a bowl combine salt, paprika, onion powder, Italian seasoning and sugar. Rub on all sides of the pork. Stuff pork with chopped garlic, fennel greens and fennel bulb. Then tuck up roast and tie with kitchen twine.

If you can get a Roast with the skin on do so. If not, usually you can buy the skin separately. Once the Roast is rolled you can use toothpicks to adhere the skin to the Roast or you can tie it on with butchers twine.

Sear the Roast in the oven at 450° for thirty minutes.

Place the Roast on a ceramic grill such as a Big Green Egg or in a smoker and cook it at about 300° F for several hours until a meat thermometer reads 180° when inserted into the thickest point of the roast.

Let the Roast rest for 30 minutes, slice.

Making a really good Porketta takes a bit of time and effort; however, you will be richly rewarded. So, the next time you have a long rainy weekend and you are looking for something worthwhile, fun and delightfully delicious to do, this might just be it.


NOTE: If you’re ever in Iron Range near Nashwauk, Minnesota pick up a delicious pre-seasoned Porketta roast at Fred’s grocery store. It’s delicious!


Breakfast Mini Baguettes 

I think I may found my new favorite thing to serve at any brunch I host or cater. Simple, easy to accommodate dietary needs, and super tast! 

Breakfast Mini Baguettes 

Serves 4

4 frozen mini baguettes, thawed (I use Rhodes brand)

4 eggs

2 tablespoons cream

8 strips bacon, cooked and chopped

¼ cup finely shredded Italian cheeses

2 green onions, sliced

salt and pepper to taste

extra cheese to sprinkle on top

Cut top off baguettes and pull out bread to make a deep hallowed depression in each one.

Mix all ingredients except extra cheese and pour equally into each of the 4 baguettes. Once filled with the egg mixture put back two or three big chunks of the bread into each of the baguettes to soak up some of egg mixture. Cover and let them sit in the fridge overnight. 

Next day bake at 350°F 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle more cheese on top of hot baguettes. Serve warm

July 2016 Meal Swap Recipes 

July 2016 Meal Swap Menu and Recipes 

SW Grilled Chicken With Lime Butter

For the chicken:

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon coarse black pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

3 1/2 pounds bone-in chicken parts

For the Lime Butter:

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

1 Serrano chile, minced

2 tablespoons minced white onion

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

pinch coarse black pepper

Prep Day: Put chicken pieces in a freezer bag. Mix first 8 ingredients in small bowl until well blended. Bag up in a small baggy. Place it in with chicken pieces for freezing. For the Lime Butter, mix all ingredients in small bowl. Place butter on a small bag and place in with chicken pieces and freeze.

Serve Day: Thaw. Pat chicken dry. Spread seasoning paste all over chicken with spoon or basting brush.
Grill chicken using medium heat for a gas grill or indirect heat for a charcoal grill. Close the lid and grill about 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Melt lime butter. Drizzle over chicken just before serving or serve separately for dipping.

Kellie – Bordertown Burger

1 1/2 lb. lean ground beef

3 tbsp Tabasco chipotle pepper sauce

1/4 c chopped cilantro

1/4 c chopped green onion

1 tsp salt

6 slices Monterey jack cheese

6 hamburger buns

Serve with lettuce and sautéed onions (you provide)

Prep Day: Combine ground beef, cilantro, green onion, salt and Tabasco sauce; mix and form into 4-6 burgers. Place in ziplock bags. Put 6 slices cheese in separate bag and freeze.

Serve Day: Thaw and cook on grill over medium-high heat to desired doneness. Top each burger with a slice of cheese and grill until melted. Serve on grilled buns with lettuce and sautéed onions.

Liz – Egg Burritos

Yield: 10 burritos

12 bacon strips, diced

12 large eggs, lightly beaten

Salt and pepper to taste

10 flour tortillas (8 inches)

1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions

Prep Day: In a large skillet, cook bacon until crisp; remove to paper towels. Drain, reserving 1-2 tablespoons drippings. Add eggs, salt and pepper to drippings; cook and stir over medium heat until the eggs are completely set.

Spoon about 1/4 cup of egg mixture down the center of each tortilla; sprinkle with cheese, onions and reserved bacon. Fold bottom and sides of each tortilla over filling. Wrap each in waxed paper and aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 1 month.

Serve Days: Remove foil. Place waxed paper-wrapped burritos on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave at 60% power for 1 to 1-1/2 minutes or until heated through. Let stand for 20 seconds.

Editor’s Note: This recipe was tested in a 1,100-watt microwave.

Thai Grilled Chicken

2 pounds chicken drumsticks

1/2 bunch cilantro

4 medium garlic cloves

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper

2 tablespoons Thai sweet chili sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce or Tamari 

Oil, for the grill pan

Prep Day: Combine all ingredients and freeze. 

Serve Day: Thaw. Grill until chicken is cooked through. Serve with a green salad. 

Broccoli and Chicken Stir-Fry

2/3 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 pinch red pepper flakes, or to taste

2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 teaspoons vegetable oil, or to taste

3 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into chunks

Air-Chilled Split Chicken Breast 

1 onion, sliced

3 cups broccoli floret

Prep Day: Stir soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, and red pepper flakes together in a bowl to dissolve sugar into the liquid. Mix water and cornstarch together in a small bowl; stir with a whisk until cornstarch dissolves completely. Put in bag, freeze with chicken and vegetables.

Serve Day: Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Fry chicken and onion in hot oil until the chicken is no longer pink in the center and the onion is tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir broccoli with the chicken and onion; sauté until the broccoli is hot, about 5 minutes. Push the chicken and vegetables mixture to the side of the skillet.
Pour the soy sauce mixture into the vacant part of the skillet. Stir the cornstarch slurry into the soy sauce mixture until the color is consistent. Move the chicken and vegetables back into the center to the pan; sauté until the sauce thickens and coats the chicken and vegetables, about 5 minutes more.

Pizza Burgers 

Yields: 12 MINI Pizzas

1 lbs ground beef

8 ounces pizza sauce

3/4 cups pepperoni, diced

1 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

6 hamburger buns, split

Prep Day: Sauté ground beef in nonstick skillet until no longer pink. Add pizza sauce. Cook on low for 2 minutes. Cool and Place in freezer bag. Place Pepperoni, cheeses, and buns in second freezer bag.

Serve Day: Thaw. Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Spread bun halves on cookie sheet. Top with sauce, pepperoni and mozzarella. Sprinkle with parmesan. Bake for about 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Feel free to get creative with toppings: Pickles, Onions, Olives, Peppers, etc.

Julie – Turkey Sloppy Joe’s

2 tablespoons butter

1 onion, diced

salt and ground black pepper to taste

1 1/4 pounds ground turkey

1/2 cup cold water

3/4 cup ketchup

1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup water, or as needed

6 hamburger buns, split

1/3 cup chopped green onions

1/2 cup shredded white Cheddar cheese

Prep Day: Place green onions and cheese is delegate bags and freeze for later use. Melt butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook and stir until onion starts to brown, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and black. Mix ground turkey and 1/2 cup cold water into onions. Cook and stir, breaking up the meat, until it begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Add ketchup, brown sugar, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper. Cook and stir until liquid is reduced, about 5 minutes. Stir in Worcestershire sauce and cocoa powder. Cook, stirring frequently and adding up to 1 cup water if needed, until meat is cooked through and liquid is reduced and thick, 20 to 30 minutes. Turn off to cool. Once cooled package up for freezing and freeze.

Serve Day: Thaw meat mixture, cheese and green onions. Reheat in sauté pan until hot. Preheat the oven’s broiler and set the oven rack about 6 inches from the heat source. Toast hamburger buns until golden, 2 to 3 minutes.

Remove meat mixture from the heat and mix in green onions and Cheddar cheese. Serve on toasted hamburger buns.

Roast Beef Sandwiches

12 whole Dinner Rolls Or Small Sandwich Buns (I Used Whole Wheat)

1 pound Thinly Shaved Roast Beef Or Ham (or Both!)

1 pound Cheese (Provolone, Swiss, Mozzarella, Even Cheez Whiz!)

1/4 cup Mayonnaise

3 Tablespoons Grated Onion (or 1 Tbsp Dried Onion Flakes))

1 Tablespoon Poppy Seeds

1 Tablespoon Spicy Mustard

1 Tablespoon Horseradish Mayo Or Straight Prepared Horseradish

Dash Of Worcestershire

Optional Dressing Ingredients: Sriracha, Hot Sauce, Dried Onion Flakes Instead Of Fresh, Garlic Powder, Pepper, Etc.)

Prep Day: Slice rolls in half. Mix together mayo, grated onion, poppy seeds, spicy mustard, horseradish, and Worcestershire. Taste it and adjust ingredients however you wish.

To assemble, spread dressing on top and bottom buns. Lay on roast beef or ham, then one or two slices of cheese (I cut them to fit the small buns.) If you’re using Cheez Whiz, spread a layer on the top bun. 

Wrap each sandwich in a foil square, and either keep in the fridge or bake right away. Freeze in gallon freezer bags.

Serve Day: Thaw. To bake the sandwiches, put them on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes. The buns should be slightly crusty and the cheese should be melted.