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!