Mock Porchetta, Perfect for Dinner Party

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I had my first porchetta sandwich from a food truck in San Francisco and it is one of the most memorable bites of my life. 

Herb Stuffed  boneless pork wrapped in pork belly, sliced thinly, chopped up, and placed on a square ciabatta roll with arugula had me and bunch of other  food bloggers drooling at that food event. It’s the Italian equivalent of the much beloved pulled pork sandwich but so much better, and we couldn’t get enough of it. 

Eventually, I got to have a porchetta sandwich in Lucca, Tuscany at a farmer’s market, served on crusty bread as street food. Amazingly delicious. 

What is porchetta?

Porchetta is an Italian tradition of roasting the body of the pig, deboned and stuffed with sultry herbs, fennel pollen, garlic, and lemon. It’s often sold as street food in Italy, and now it’s sold as street food in America. We were fortunate enough to eat this in Italy in a street fair.

Porchetta is the premier man food that any sensible meat eating woman would love too. I am not exaggerating. The Italian flavor profile of rosemary, sage, thyme and fennel is seductive. You will go back for seconds.

Porchetta is only made better by adding hearty root vegetables. I love fresh fennel and I only can love it more when it has been cooked with a pork shoulder that becomes a mock porchetta.

How do you Pronounce Porchetta?

Before we talk food, let’s pronounce porchetta correctly. It sounds like porketta. In Italian, the ch sounds like a k and the c sound like ch as in church. Think Chianti and cello and you will always know the correct Italian pronunciation of the letter c. By the way, this same rule applies to bruschetta, which is often mispronounced. It sounds like brusketta. 

This mock porchetta recipe gets as close as one can get from an American home kitchen. I found it in the Zuni Cafe Cookbook and I’ve made it several times.

I’ve eaten at the Zuni Cafe in San Francisco several times, and I loved the food so much I had to have their cookbook. I have also made chocolate pots de cream from the book several times and it’s that perfect just enough chocolate which would go well with this entree.

There is another recipe is the book, which happens to be their signature dish, which I’ve made about twenty times.  The roast chicken with a bread salad, is served for two and takes an hour, once your order is placed.  Now I can make it at home. 

The Zuni Cafe has been around since 1979 and the cookbook since 2002. It’s one of those books that belongs in every kitchen if you like regional Italian and French cooking, prepared with a California flair. The dishes are simple, flavorful and memorable.

The Mock Porchetta with Root Vegetables

You can add in as many root vegetables as you can fit in your pan. I found myself eating them from the pan and having a hard time stopping. I never knew rutabagas could taste so good. Do serve with with an arugula salad or a Tuscan kale salad, which helps to cut through the richness. If you serve as porchetta sandwiches, slice and chop and top with arugula. It’s so right together.

Make Mock Porchetta Sliders for Your Next Party

This is dinner party or big party food. A pork butt is an affordable cut of meat, and will go a long way. The first time I made this was for sandwiches at a party.  You can make these as sliders for any party.   You could use the ciabatta square rolls, either very fresh or toasted and cut them into fours.  

The instructions call for making several cuts into the muscle to stuff the herbs. Don’t worry too much if it looks a mess. It’s going to be delicious. Do give this at least one day to marinate in the refrigerator.

Italian Mock Porchetta

More Italian Recipes from Spinach Tiger

Mock Porchetta
Print Recipe
4.67 from 3 votes

Mock Porchetta with Root Vegetables, the Best Roast Pork You’ll Ever Eat

Mock Porchetta is a more approachable version of Italy’s porchetta, a whole roasted, deboned pig, stuffed with herbs.
Prep Time1 day
Cook Time3 hours
Total Time1 day 3 hours
Course: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 8


  • 1 three-pound boneless pork shoulder butt pork roast
  • salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon capers rinsed, pressed dry and barely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic coarsely chopped
  • 12 fresh sage leaves crushed, coarsely chopped ( 1 1/2 teaspoons dried)
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh rosemary taken off stem
  • 1 tablespoons fennel seeds barely crushed, divided 2 teaspoons, 1 teaspoon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 to 2 pounds prepared root vegetables potatoes, onions, carrots, rutabagas, fennel bulb
  • olive oil
  • 2/3 cup pork stock or chicken stock or water
  • 3 tablespoons dry vermouth or white wine


  • Trim all but 1/4″ layer of fat. Make slits in the pork where the fat lays next to the w muscle. This will be for the stuffing. Make several slits, careful not to cut the pork in half.You will want to have a lot of internal surfaces to place the herb mixture.
  • Combine zest, capers, 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, herbs, pepper together and stuff the pork inside all of the cut slits.
  • Tie the pork up with string. Rub remaining fennel seeds on the outside of the pork. Season with salt and black pepper.
  • Marinate overnight.
  • Take out of refrigerator for 30 minutes prior to roasting.
  • Preheat oven to 350. Roast for approximately 2 1/2 hours
  • Toss vegetables in very small amount of olive oil. Season with salt.
  • Roast pork with vegetables. If roast has not turned brown within the first 45 minutes, turn oven up to 375. After one hour of cooking, turn roast and vegetables.
  • Cook until internal temperature is at 160 degrees. Allow to rest 20 minutes outside of oven, while making the pan sauce. Pork will continue to cook.
  • The pork should look as golden and crispy as this picture.
  • As the herbs fall into the liquid, reapply to the exterior of the roast.
  • In making the pan sauce, remove the pork and vegetables, spoon off the fat, add in vermouth and stock or water and cook over low heat. Deglaze the pan. Skim more fat off if necessary. Pour sauce over slices of pork.
  • Serve either as entree or with as sandwiches on ciabatta bread with arugula.
  • Note: Watch the vegetables. They may be getting done before the pork is done, but you do want them to be very caramelized.

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  1. 5 stars
    I’m planning on doing this as the centerpiece of our Christmas Eve buffet.

    It appears from the photo that the meat does have bones. You used a bone-in pork butt, right? The recipe calls for a boneless pork shoulder, which I think would be much easier to tie and carve.

    I’m wondering if a boneless pork loin roast could be butterflied out and the herb paste shmeared on the inner surface, then re-rolled into a roast and tied up? Then roast as instructed. I bet that would be good too!

    1. I’ve made this many times. I suggest getting pork butt. Maybe even TWO of them.
      Pork loin doesn’t have the flavor. You could do it, but it won’t ‘that that good fat.
      I used two for a party once. We served with french rolls and arugula. But as a dinner, it would be great too. Yes you could try the pork loin, but I’m really partial to that fat.

  2. I am quite sure we had our first bite of porchetta at the food cart at the Foodbuzz festival Angela. I haven’t attempted to make it myself but I do love a great pork roast. It reminds of growing up in Southern Ontario where pork rules!

  3. I think my first/official exposure to porchetta was SF too — probably at the first Food Buzz Festival. We’ve since made it at home multiple times using various recipes. There’s no denying its goodness and I love the addition of root vegetables.

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