I just returned from two weeks of eating my way through Italy, and one of the highlights of the trip was was porchetta, a fantastic way of making a whole hog. The pig is gutted and deboned (deboned!), then the meat is spread with herbs and vegetables, and the whole thing rolled up and secured with twine.
It's roasted, not smoked, so the skin is crispy and delicious without any added flavor. The meat itself is salty and porky, highlighted by the fresh herbs. It's sold cold, sliced thin and stuffed into a crispy roll for a to-go sandwich.
Porchetta is mostly sold from food carts at markets, fairs and festivals. I paid about $7.50 for my sandwich but it was worth every penny. I wanted to take a whole pig home with me!
It might be too much effort to try to do this at home (I can't imagine deboning a whole hog!) but Mario Batali published a recipe for something similar last year in Esquire. His recipe (see it here) calls for a boneless pork shoulder, butterflied and layered with the same herbs and veggies. The only thing missing is that yummy skin! It would be worth hunting down a skin-on piece of meat... --Gwyneth Doland