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Roasted Pork with Herbs (Arrostino di Maiale)

It is a common misconception that porchetta is a suckling pig. In Lazio, porchetta is a hog, roasted whole by a specialist porchettaro. It is often prepared with large quantities of herbs and sold by the slice with slabs of wonderful pane casereccio, the chewy local bread, at street stands like the one opposite the Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano. The best porchetta in Lazio comes from the town of Ariccia, just south of Rome, but just about every fair and festival in the region has a porchetta stand. This dainty rolled roast that you can make at home will evoke the aromas of the popular local specialty.

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 to 2 lb. boneless pork shoulder, rolled and tied 
  • 1 garlic clove, cut lengthwise into 6 slivers 
  • 2 Tbs. coarsely chopped fresh rosemary  
  • 2 Tbs. coarsely chopped fresh sage  
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil 
  • 8 boiling potatoes 

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 450°F.

Using a small, sharp knife, make 6 small, evenly spaced incisions in the pork. Insert a sliver of garlic, a tiny cluster of rosemary and sage, and a pinch of salt into each incision. Rub the meat all over with the olive oil and grind pepper on top. Place the pork on a rack in a roasting pan and transfer to the oven.

Fill a saucepan three-fourths full of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the potatoes and parboil for 3 minutes. Drain and pat dry, then add the potatoes to the roasting pan, placing them around the pork.

When the meat starts to brown, after about 20 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and continue to roast until the pork is very brown on the outside, cooked through on the inside and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 165°F, about 40 minutes more. During this time, turn the potatoes as needed to brown on all sides.

Transfer the pork to a cutting board, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Snip the strings and cut the pork against the grain into slices 1/4 inch thick. Divide the pork and potatoes among warmed individual plates and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Foods of the World Series, Rome, by Maureen B. Fant (Oxmoor House, 2005).