Cooking 101

Traditional Italian porchetta gets a Kansas City twist

By Jeff Toohey

Johnson County Community College

Smoked Porchetta Pork Loin Sandwich with Warm Potato and Haricot Vert Salad
Smoked Porchetta Pork Loin Sandwich with Warm Potato and Haricot Vert Salad Johnson County Community College

Porchetta is a traditional Italian dish that consists of layering pork belly with herbs and spices and pork loin, rolling it up, then roasting it in the oven.

Jeff Toohey calls his version of this classic dish “Kansas City-fied.” He merges Italian culture with Kansas City style by adding a barbecue spice rub and smoking the meat instead of roasting it.

“I have always had an interest in Italian cooking since living there before, but I wanted to do something a little different,” Toohey says. “The first time I made this recipe, I sliced it in thick slabs and served it as an entrée. The next day I created the sandwich version, which was even better.”

His roast features a traditional herb filling, with the addition of prosciutto. It gets a dry rub and bacon wrap and is smoked with apple wood to tender, succulent perfection.

“I have the prosciutto layered on the meat and herbs before it’s rolled up to add color and flavor to the interior of the meat,” he says. “I use bacon to add back some fat to make it more juicy and keep the meat from drying out, and apple wood smoke is the perfect complement to the pork’s flavor.”

For the best results, slice the meat while cold, then pile it on a chewy roll, and you will have a memorable sandwich experience.

About the column

Cooking 101 is a bimonthly column exclusive to The Star designed to introduce home cooks to basic cooking techniques. The recipe, food styling and photography are a joint project between culinary students and instructors at Johnson County Community College’s Hospitality Management Program.

The chef

Jeff Toohey is a second-year student in the Johnson County Community College’s Chef Apprentice and Food and Beverage Management programs. He is an apprentice at Argosy Casino in Riverside. He is currently a banquet cook but has spent time as a line cook in the sports pub and as a cook for the buffet in the main production kitchen.

Smoked Porchetta Pork Loin Sandwich

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Pork rub:

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons salt

2 tablespoons garlic powder

2 tablespoons paprika

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

Pork loin:

1 (3-pound) boneless pork loin

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, cut in chiffonade

1/4 cup fresh oregano, finely minced

6 cloves garlic, crushed or finely minced

1/2 cup olive oil

6 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto

12 ounces sliced bacon

For the aioli:

1 medium red bell pepper, roasted, or use prepared roasted pepper

3 egg yolks

3 cloves garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup vegetable oil

Salt and pepper to taste

For the sandwich:

6 to 8 ciabatta rolls

Sliced provolone cheese, sliced tomato and wilted spinach, for garnish

For the rub: In a small bowl, mix all ingredients well; set aside.

Lay pork loin on cutting board. With sharp knife, begin with shallow lengthwise cut in the meat, approximately 1/2 inch deep. Turn knife and work through the meat to butterfly the pork loin into a flat piece of meat, 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick. Trim edges as necessary to produce a rectangle.

Season both sides of pork loin with salt and pepper. Combine basil, oregano, garlic and olive oil, and spread evenly over one side of pork loin. Lay thin-sliced prosciutto over the herb mixture, covering evenly to within 1/2 inch of the edges of the meat. From one long edge, roll the meat tightly.

Generously rub the outside of the meat with the pork rub. Wrap bacon strips around the rolled roast, covering completely. Lay one strip over the edges of the bacon strips to cover. Sprinkle rub on the outside. Using kitchen twine, securely tie the roast. Wrap and refrigerate several hours or overnight.

Remove pork roast from refrigerator to bring up to room temperature for cooking.

Prepare your smoker. The roast may be cooked on any style smoker. I used a kamado-style smoker, using natural lump charcoal and apple wood smoking chunks. At 225 degree smoking temperature, smoke porchetta to internal temperature of 145 degrees, approximately 3 to 3 1/2 hours.

Remove from smoker and let rest 30 to 45 minutes, to allow juices to reabsorb. Cool roast completely, wrap and refrigerate several hours or overnight.

To make the aioli: Roast red pepper on rack in 450-degree oven until skin is evenly charred. Wrap in foil to cool and loosen skin. Remove skin and seeds, rough chop flesh of the pepper.

Add pepper, egg yolks, garlic and vinegar to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse several times until mixture is combined and smooth. With processor running continuously, slowly stream in olive oil and vegetable oil to produce smooth, emulsified mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To make the sandwich: Slice meat very cold for best results. Thinly shave slices of porchetta with a very sharp slicing knife or electric slicer (preferred), approximately 6 ounces of meat per sandwich.

Split fresh ciabatta rolls. Toast lightly. Spread both sides with red pepper aioli. For each sandwich, heat porchetta for several minutes in a lightly oiled sauté pan or on griddle, turning once. After turning, top meat with provolone cheese. After meat is heated through and cheese has begun to melt, transfer the meat/cheese to the ciabatta roll with spatula. In same pan, add spinach leaves and cook until just wilted. Garnish sandwiches with fresh sliced tomato and wilted spinach.

Per serving, based on 6: 874 calories (67 percent from fat), 64 grams total fat (15 grams saturated), 207 milligrams cholesterol, 20 grams carbohydrates, 52 grams protein, 1,694 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber.

Warm Potato and Haricot Vert Salad

Makes 8 servings

1/2 pound haricot vert or fresh green beans

1 red bell pepper

2 pounds small red potatoes


2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

1 pinch dry mustard

1 teaspoon honey or agave nectar

3/4 cup canola or vegetable oil

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon minced oregano

1 teaspoon minced chives

1 1/2 teaspoons chiffonade basil

Salt and pepper to taste

Cut green beans or haricot vert into pieces approximately 1 inch long. Blanch beans in salted boiling water 1-2 minutes, shock in ice bath and set aside.

Roast red pepper in 450 degree oven until skin is charred. Wrap in foil to cool and loosen skin. Remove skin and seeds and dice pepper flesh.

Wash potatoes well and dice into large cubes, approximately 1- by 1-inch. Place potatoes in saucepan; add cold water to just cover. Bring to simmer, and cook until just tender.

While potatoes are cooking, prepare vinaigrette: Add vinegars, dry mustard and honey to bowl of food processor. Pulse to combine. With processor running, slowly add oils to combine into emulsified dressing. After adding oils, process in herbs and salt and pepper to taste. Warm vinaigrette in small saucepan.

When potatoes are cooked, drain well and put in a mixing bowl. Add haricot verts and diced red pepper. While still warm, pour vinaigrette over potato mixture and toss all ingredients gently to combine. Check seasoning. Serve salad warm or at room temperature.

Per serving: 311 calories (65 percent from fat), 23 grams total fat (2 grams saturated), 2 milligrams cholesterol, 25 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams protein, 9 milligrams sodium, 3 grams dietary fiber.