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Anne Quatrano’s Porchetta

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Cuisine: Italian Main Dish

While this slow-roasted Italian roast pork is traditionally made with the loin, a skin-on fresh picnic ham makes a fine substitute. Chef Anne Quatrano likes to serve this economical dish with fresh peas at spring picnics on her farm. After such a long spell in the oven, the scored skin turns into crispy cracklings, and the meat separates into juicy hunks with only a prod. In fact, Quatrano recommends pulling the ham and letting it soak up the lemony drippings, but I beg to differ: The whole ham makes for a gorgeous presentation.
-- John Kessler

Hands on time: 1 hour  Total time: 90 hours  Serves: 8


    2 cups plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided (use 1 cup salt for additional days of brining, if desired)
    1 fresh bone-in ham (about 6 to 8 pounds)
    3 tablespoons fennel seed, toasted
    2 tablespoons red pepper flakes
    3 to 4 cloves garlic
    1 cup olive oil
    1 cup fresh lemon juice


Make a brine with 1 cup salt, 3 quarts water and 1 quart ice, and immerse the fresh ham in it (an 8-quart pot works perfectly, with the shank sticking up). Refrigerate for 1 day. Drain and repeat with a fresh brine for at least 2 days and no more than 4.
Drain and pat dry the ham. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Carefully score the skin, making sure to cut through the skin but not into the meat. In a coffee grinder or with a mortar and pestle, make a paste of the fennel seed, red pepper flakes, garlic and teaspoon of salt. Rub this paste in the slits between the skin. Place the ham in a deep roasting pan. Mix the olive oil and lemon juice and pour it over the ham. Roast at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 225 degrees and continue roasting, uncovered, for 16 to 18 hours. You know the ham is ready when, if you press the bottom with your fingers, you can easily dislodge a distinct muscle. Transfer to a serving dish. Strain the pan juices and drizzle around the ham.


Total time includes 3 days of soaking time and more than 16 hours of slow-cooking time.


Per serving: 719 calories (percent of calories from fat, 68), 53 grams protein, 2 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 54 grams fat (17 grams saturated), 187 milligrams cholesterol, 880 milligrams sodium.

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