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Porker Face Part II: The Crostini


So, I’m back to my initial woes over crostini versus bruschetta. What is this dish? Who knows, but it’s rather delicious.

In coming up with a signature item to make and serve for our launch party, I wanted to play around with Nigella Lawson’s porchetta recipe from her book, Forever Summer. I have made this before and served it on toasted ciabatta rolls, as instructed. But I wanted to build a crostini/bruschetta and play with the ingredients.For the base of the toasted bread, I made a sauteed broccoli rabe puree. I was thinking of the great pork shoulder sandwiches in Philly, namely Tony and Luke’s in which they served pulled pork with provolone and rabe. The bitterness plays off  the sweet pork nicely.


A mound of this shredded pork goes atop the puree followed by some caramelized fennel to add some sweetness. Atop this, I macerated red onions in honey and balsamic to give the dish some tang and additional sweetness and I topped it off with a simple fennel frond.

I probably did way too much to prepare the pork but this meat,  nabbed from the always-fantastic Truck Patch Farms is the best. You will need three days to prepare it. See the notes below:

Day 1 – salt the shoulder and place in the fridge overnight

Day 2 – Spread the seasonings over the pork and marinate overnight

Day 3 – cook the meat overnight.

What does everyone think?

adapted from Nigella Lawson

4 1/2 lbs pork butt (with bone)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
2 large sprigs fresh rosemary, finely chopped
4 fresh bay leaves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
8 black peppercorns, coarsely crushed

Salt the pork (2 tablespoon’s worth) with kosher salt and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a frying pan and cook the onion for a few minutes until it’s beginning to soften. Add half the garlic, half the fennel seeds, all the rosemary and bay leaves, half the ground cloves, the salt and pepper, and cook for a minute more, then transfer to a plate and leave it to cool.

Spread this cooled mixture over the pork, rubbing it all over.

Mix together the remaining garlic, fennel and ground cloves with the remaining olive oil. Rub this over the surface of the pork. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and leave to steep in the refrigerator overnight or for 24 hours. Take it out a good 40 minutes before cooking to bring the meat to room temperature.

Put the oven on 250 degrees, toss the pork in a dutch oven, cover with foil, dutch oven lid and cook overnight.

You can put the pork in a slow cooker and set it on low overnight, too.

After it is cooked, remove the foil and dutch oven lid. Remove the juices and put in the fridge.

Turn the oven up to 475 and place the pork, uncovered, back in the oven to crisp the skin.

Remove the juices/fat from the oven. They should be cooled and the fat should have settled. Remove the fat.

Once the skin on the pork is crisp, remove from the oven. Shred the pork with two forks. Toss with the strained juices and throw back in the dutch oven. Put on low heat to warm.

Broccoli Rabe Pure

1 lb of broccoli rabe

3-4 large garlic cloves, green germ removed, thinly sliced

1 tsp and a half of red chili flakes

olive oil

salt and pepper

Heat a few glugs of olive oil on a saute pan. Toss in the garlic and then add the rabe. Sprinkle with chili flakes. Season with salt and pepper until rabe turns bright green.

Remove the rabe with tongs and spread out on a cutting board to cool. You still want to maintain some verdancy to the rabe.

When cooled, blitz in a food processor until a paste forms. You may need to add a little extra olive oil. The mixture, like rabe, will be somewhat bitter.

Macerated Red Onions

2 red onions

4 tablespoons of good balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons of honey

salt and pepper

Thinly sliced red onions. Toss with vinegar, honey and salt and pepper. Taste. Mixture should be sweet and tart. You may need to adjust the seasonings.  Let macerate overnight. This will remove the astringency from the onion.

Roasted Fennel

3 bulbs of fresh fennel, diced. Reserve fennel sprigs

olive oil

salt and pepper

Cook the hell out of the fennel in olive oil on a high heat. Add some salt and pepper to season. Once it is soft, sweet and caramelized, remove from heat. Set aside.

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