Iron Range Porketta

From Cook's Country | October/November 2012

Why this recipe works:

Not to be confused with Italian porchetta, Iron Range porketta is a fennel-and-garlic-seasoned pulled pork hailing from Minnesota. Butterflying the pork butt sped up cooking, and cutting a crosshatch in the surface ensured that the seasoning—a mixture of granulated garlic, crushed fennel… read more

Not to be confused with Italian porchetta, Iron Range porketta is a fennel-and-garlic-seasoned pulled pork hailing from Minnesota. Butterflying the pork butt sped up cooking, and cutting a crosshatch in the surface ensured that the seasoning—a mixture of granulated garlic, crushed fennel seeds, salt, and pepper—penetrated. Before roasting, we topped the meat with sliced fresh fennel for a second layer of flavor.

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Serves 8

Pork butt roast is often labeled Boston butt in the supermarket. This recipe calls for granulated garlic, which has a well-rounded garlic flavor. It is golden and the texture of table salt. Garlic powder is paler, with the texture of flour, and can be acrid. Don’t confuse the two or substitute garlic powder in this recipe. To crack the fennel seeds, spread them on a cutting board, place a skillet on top, and press down firmly with both hands. The porketta tastes best when the raw meat sits for a full 24 hours with the spices.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons fennel seeds, cracked
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 teaspoons granulated garlic
  • 1 (5-pound) boneless pork butt roast, trimmed
  • 1 fennel bulb, stalks discarded, bulb halved, cored, and chopped
  • 8 crusty sandwich rolls

Instructions

  1. 1. Combine fennel seeds, 1 tablespoon salt, 2 teaspoons pepper, and garlic in bowl. Butterfly pork and cut 1-inch crosshatch pattern, ¼ inch deep, on both sides of roast. Rub pork all over with spice mixture, taking care to work spices into crosshatch. Wrap meat tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 or up to 24 hours.

    2. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Unwrap meat and place in roasting pan, fat side down. Spread chopped fennel evenly over top of roast. Cover ­roasting pan tightly with aluminum foil. Roast pork until temperature registers 200 degrees and fork slips easily in and out of meat, 3 to 4 hours.

    3. Transfer pork to carving board and let rest for 30 minutes. Strain liquid in roasting pan through fat separator. Shred pork into bite-size pieces, return to pan, and toss with ½ cup defatted cooking liquid. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide meat among rolls and serve.

Prepping the Porketta

We butterfly and crosshatch to expose maximum surface area to soak up seasoning.

1. BUTTERFLY: Slice through the pork parallel to the counter, stopping 1⁄2 inch from the edge. Then open the meat flat like a book.

2. CROSSHATCH: Use a chef’s knife to cut a 1-inch crosshatch pattern 1⁄4-inch deep on both sides of the meat.

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