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Two Clarks and Porchetta for Days: An unforgettable Pork Roast and a Cannellini Vegetable Soup from the leftovers.

Jill Clark, Redhead and Cook 

My friend Jill Clark introduced me to Melissa Clark’s recipe for “Counterfeit Porchetta” at the dinner party she and her husband Steve threw right before Christmas.  Like Jill, I’d seen the recipe in the New York Times the week before and, like Jill, I was intrigued.  Melissa Clark explained that in Italy, Porchetta is a spit-roasted, de-boned and stuffed baby pig seasoned with fennel, garlic, rosemary and lemon. (Confession:  I wasn’t a Porchetta virgin.  I’d made a mean counterfeit Porchetta before (see http://www.chewingthefat.us.com/2010/07/porchetta-slow-roasted-pork-shoulder.html)

Melissa Clark, Redhead and
Cook

  But the version I had at Jill and Steven’s had me hooked from bite one.  It is incredibly flavorful and juicy. The spicy, salty crust just begs the cook to pick at it before serving.  Pork Shoulder is used here.  You’d be hard-pressed to find any protein as economical as Pork Shoulder. The one I special-ordered came in at about $4.00 a lb.   It’s terribly easy to cook mostly because it’s not fat-free by any means.   The amber crust keeps the meat underneath juicy and tender.  The platter of meat that emerged from our kitchen was soon devoured and with barely any leftovers.  But there was the bone and a couple of slices of meat.  So a day or two later, I turned both into a soup so perfect for cold weather, so ideal for using fresh and leftover vegetables, that I’d make Porchetta again just so I could make it.  

        

Melissa Clark’s Porchetta

I am giving you Melissa Clark’s recipe verbatim because that is what Jill Clark used.  However, I’ve told you before about www.pollenranch.com located in beautifully named Lemon Cove, California. Pollen Ranch are purveyors of hand-collected and wild-crafted spices including Organic Fennel Pollen.  This wonderful stuff suffuses Porchetta with the intense flavor of Fennel, which is key to creating the dish’s unique flavor. I used it exclusively.  Melissa and Jill Clark opted for fennel fronds and fennel seeds for their Porchetta.   They accomplished the seasoning needed here and saved a lot of money. Fennel Pollen is hardly free…(9.95 for .5 oz.).  Both Melissa and Jill had the all-essential skin cross-hatched by their butchers.  I tried to have that done but my butcher was not so adept.  Hence mine looks nothing like their neatly scored versions.  But in terms of taste and the lovely crispy crunchy pork cracklings, both were winners.  One further note: Melissa recommends making the herb paste the night before and leaving the coated roast in the fridge. Because I couldn’t get my hands on the pork until the day I was going to serve it, I started at 10 AM and served about 8 PM with no apparent loss of flavor.  But I couldn’t help wonder if it would have been even more amazing if marinated overnight.   The recipe follows after my soup talk.      

I love making soup.  It strikes me that it’s almost impossible not to make a good one.  All it really takes is a meaty soup bone, some homemade or store bought stock and whatever vegetables your heart desires and you’re home.   In cold weather, I love having a big pot of soup on the stove.   I love tasting it frequently, adjusting the seasonings and the salt as I go along.   I leave it simmering for hours only turning off the stove at night and then starting it up again in the morning.   In the case of this particular soup, essentially Pork and Beans, I made a broth with the pork shoulder bone, then made a base with onions and carrots and celery.  The beans went in with the broth and I added some home-canned tomatoes from last summer.  As the pork broth simmered down, I put in a whole 32 oz. container of Chicken stock.  And when it was finally time to serve the soup, I added some cooked vegetables –asparagus, carrots and mushrooms that I had in the fridge. I put some baby spinach leaves in the bottom of the soup bowls and poured over the soup.  A grating of Parmesan, a couple of pieces of crusty bread and lunch was served.   And I still have soup to keep serving for days and days of more Porchetta.  Here are the recipes: 


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