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Chef Alex Chen’s Spicy Porchetta

Spicy Porchetta

Spicy Porchetta with Potatoes and Rapini

This is not a traditional porchetta.

It’s my take. First, since anything that involves pork belly and crackling reminds me of Chinese barbecue-style crispy pork, I use that same method here to puff the skin. Second, since the belly has to cook slowly, at low heat, and I want the meat inside to be really juicy and fork-tender, I use shoulder instead of loin. And while porchetta usually has fragrant, herbaceous seasonings, I love spices, so I season it that way for a different perspective. With sides of lemon-flavoured roast potatoes and simple greens, this dish has been a very popular meal kit for us in Vancouver.—Alex Chen – Boulevard, Vancouver


  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, microplaned or minced
  • zest of half an orange
  • 4 sprigs thyme, leaves only
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 heaping tbsp whole-grain mustard
  • 1 tbsp fennel seed, toasted
  • 1 tbsp Spanish sweet smoked paprika
  • 3⁄4 tsp ground chipotle chili
  • 1⁄2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1⁄4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1⁄4 tsp pepper
  • 1 pinch fennel pollen
  • 2 kg (41⁄2 lb) pork belly, skin on
  • 1.3 kg (3 lb) pork shoulder, boneless
  • salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Combine shallots, garlic, orange zest, thyme, sugar, mustard, fennel seed, paprika, chili, cumin, coriander, pepper and fennel pollen in a bowl and mix well.

Lightly score the skin of the pork belly without cutting through to the fat or meat beneath. Butterfly the pork belly and shoulder. Salt both generously. Arrange the belly on a work surface, open and skin-side down.

Rub the top side (not the skin) with a third of the seasoning mix. Rub the remainder on all sides of the shoulder. Roll the shoulder tightly and arrange the cylinder lengthwise at the hinge of the butterflied belly. Then wrap the belly around the shoulder and fasten it tightly with butcher’s string. Rub oil on the skin side of the belly, salt generously and arrange the roast skin-side up in a roasting pan.

Preheat oven to 135C (275F).

Roast for 3 hours, rotating the pan occasionally. Set aside on the counter.

Raise oven temperature to 260C (500F).

Open the windows and disengage your smoke alarm. Return roast to the oven until its skin puffs and crisps, about 5 minutes. Don’t rush it or you’ll get chewy skin instead of crackling. Set aside on the counter to rest under a tent of foil for 20 minutes while you finish the side dishes.

Slice pork with a serrated knife and serve with lemony roasted potatoes, sautéed broccolini and dressed greens.

Serves 8📷 Leila Kwok