Remove pork from the refrigerator 3–4 hours prior to cooking. Meat cooks better and more evenly when it begins at room temperature.
Preheat oven to 450°. Core apples and run over a mandolin, slicing to 1⁄8-inch slices. (If you do not have a mandolin you can use a knife, but the apple slices should be very thin.) Place the sliced apples in a bowl of water with the juice of 1 lemon to keep them from oxidizing while you work.
Liberally and evenly season meat side of pork with salt and pepper. Six 3-finger pinches of salt usually does the job.
Add pepper and rosemary, then spread the apple slices and chopped figs on the meat.
Now it is time to roll and tie the belly. Roll the meat as tightly as possible and tie in at least 3 places. Start your tie in the middle of the roll and work your way outwards, keeping the roll as tight as possible.
Rub softened lard over the outside (skin side) of the roll and liberally season with salt.
Place pork roll on a baking rack set on a large sheet tray in the preheated oven. Monitor closely, as this is the stage in which the skin will crisp up and become that crispy crackling that we all yearn for. This should take about 30–40 minutes.
Once the desired skin crispiness is achieved, reduce the heat to 350°. If the skin starts to look like it is getting overdone, cover with foil and continue to monitor. Roast until the thickest part of the meat reads 145° on a meat thermometer. When done, remove from oven and let rest for at least an hour.
Meanwhile, pour the drippings from the roasting pan into a saucepan, add the apple cider vinegar and cook over medium heat until reduced by half. Season to taste.
Slice the meat with a bread knife for greater ease cutting through the skin and place slices (including the crispy skin) on brioche buns (or any bun of your choosing, but we love brioche for this sandwich). Top with finely grated Estero Gold cheese, a sprinkling of arugula, then a drizzle of the reduction sauce. Or, ditch the bun altogether and serve the sliced porchetta with a fresh green salad!
Recipe courtesy of Kendra Kolling, The Farmer’s Wife