John’s Birthday Weekend- Pork and Broccoli Rabe Ciabatta Subs

Pork & Broccoli Rabe Ciabatta Subs

I was heading out of town, so I prepped the pork in advance and then cooked it off 2 days later, when we got home. I made an interesting discovery. Though I usually run the pork under the broiler to crisp the skin, I didn’t have to do it this time because the skin was fully crisp at the end of the roasting time. I’m pretty sure it’s because I cured the meat for 2 days. So this is how I will always make my porchetta-style pork shoulder.



  • 1 (5-pound) boneless pork shoulder, skin-on
  • 1 bulb garlic (8 to 10 cloves), finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
  • Kosher salt and coarse black pepper
  • 1 small onion, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda (optional)


  • 2 bunches broccoli rabe, trimmed into 5- to 6-inch stalks
  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 1 red Fresno chile, seeded and finely chopped
  • 3 or 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 or 2 very large red bell peppers
  • Salt and pepper
  • 10 ciabatta rolls, 6 to 8 inches long (I used Amy’s), split
  • EVOO, for liberal drizzling
  • Lemon wedges, for squeezing


Prepare the porchetta: Butterfly the pork by cutting the meat across but not all the way through and opening the shoulder up like a book. If the meat is a little uneven then pound it out a little. Season the pork evenly across the surface with the garlic, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Grate the onion over the meat with the large holes of a box grater or with wide-tooth Microplane and spread it around the meat. Roll and tie the pork with kitchen string to secure. Cover and refrigerate the pork for 2 days.

The day you plan on making the pork, bring it back to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Rub the skin of the pork with a little baking soda for extra crispy skin, drizzle or spray with a little EVOO, and season with salt and pepper. Roast the pork until it reaches 155°F on an instant-read thermometer, 3 hours to 3 hours 15 minutes. Remove it from the oven let it rest covered for about 30 minutes and it’s perfect.

Prepare the rabes and peppers: While the pork is resting, bring a few inches of water to boil in a deep skillet, salt the water, add the rabes and boil to cook out their bitterness, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain. In a skillet, heat the EVOO (4 turns of the pan). Add the chile and garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the rabes, season with salt and pepper, and cook until heated through, just a couple of minutes.

Meanwhile, char the peppers over an open flame on stovetop or under the broiler on high heat. When blackened, place in a bowl and cover to cool. Remove the blackened skins with a paper towel, halve and seed. Very thinly slice the peppers.

Thinly slice the porchetta. Toast the split ciabattas and drizzle with EVOO. Arrange 3 or 4 thin slices of pork on the roll bottoms and douse with a squirt of lemon juice. Top with the rabes and roasted pepper and set the tops in place.

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