Friday, April 2, 2010

PORCHETTA! IN CINCINNATI!


I have yet to try the Neapolitan pizza at Capri Tavola Calda, having become smitten with their sandwiches. Since Capri opened late last year half a block from my office, I’ve tried a few of their specials and soups and been working my way through their panini menu, including the meaty Napoli
and the Capri, featuring eggplant:
Both are served on a fragrant rosemary ciabatta roll I’ve become very fond of. Their baguettes are respectable too.

Yesterday I noticed a panino du jour dubbed the Antony, described as home-made porchetta, eggplant, provolone, lettuce, and tomato on baguette. Hmm, porchetta. That rang a food-web-surfing bell. Amateur Gourmet had raved about a porchetta sandwich he’d had at the NYC restaurant of the same name. Porchetta (the restaurant) recently made news by shipping sandwiches to troops in Afghanistan. And I’ve come across enough other mentions of porchetta that it had seeped into my consciousness as something I was curious to try. Here I had that opportunity. And it was stop-me-in-my-pork-lovin’-tracks delicious. Roast pork to kick the butt of any other roast pork I’ve ever had. Meltingly moist and rich, deeply flavored with garlic and herbs.
Not everyone who works at Capri always gets everything right. In this case, the person I ordered from had to look at the specials board to figure out how to spell “Antony.” Then the young men assembling sandwiches were stumped, asking each other about “porCHetta” (the pronunciation is “porKetta”), and the advertised eggplant was left off my sandwich. But when I bit into that succulent pork, any potential complaints vanished. Clearly, the chef here knows what he’s doing, even if other employees do not.

When I got home from work, some googling was in order to learn more about the dish I’d eaten and figure out whether porchetta was something I might be able to make myself.

Traditional porchetta is apparently made from deboned pork, rolled with meat, fat, skin and layers of garlic, rosemary, fennel-studded stuffing (herb and stuffing preferences vary from family to family in Italy), then roasted at high heat over wood.

I also learned that porchetta is often served as a whole roast, although sandwiches are increasingly popular, at least in the U.S., and provolone as a porchetta sandwich ingredient is somehow controversial. Capri’s incorporation of provolone, fresh leaf lettuce, and thin-sliced tomatoes didn’t bother me, nor did the eggplant omission. At $6.85 for the Antony, the generous serving of pork on the 8” baguette was the clear star of the dish for me, but we now how picky downtown lunch buyers can be if they don’t think they’re getting enough “stuff” for their money.

If you care to lay out more than $100, you can order one of these lovelies from Porchetta Primata, which partners with an artisanal pork farm in Kentucky; some can be mail-ordered through Costco.
The New York Times says, yes, you can make porchetta at home, offering a recipe adapted from Olives and Oranges, a cookbook written by the chefs of NYC’s Porchetta restaurant. Esquire has published a Batali recipe, Anne Burrell has one on the FoodTV website, and I found yet another one from a globe-trotting blogger here.

While I don’t see myself springing for the mail-order option anytime soon, I’ve added trying my hand at porchetta to my lengthy culinary to do list. Even if I go with a more modest adaptation of this Italian classic, it is still likely to knock the socks off most of my previous roast pork attempts. And until I get around to preparing it myself, the next time I pick up lunch at Capri Tavola Calda, I think I’ll add a note to the suggestion box sitting next to the cash register: “More porchetta, please.”

Happy Easter weekend to all. May you be blessed with warm spring weather, a bountiful table, and the company of good friends/family to share it with. I’ll be back next week and am looking forward to checking out the new entries in The Karmic Kitchen’s Dim Sum Sunday – PEEPS, Part II.

7 comments:

LaDivaCucina said...

Oh dear, you really got it bad for the porchetta, dontcha, eggy?! $100 is a lotta clams to lay out, I think you could pull it off yourself with your mad kitchen skills?

I'm up for peeps DSS, happy Spring!

intuitive eggplant said...

Yeah, I got it bad for porchetta. Definitely must try some version at home. Your DSS Peeps post is too hilarious - especially "deconstructed Peeps." Happy Easter, Spring, and DSS!

Heff said...

The pig looks excellent, lol !

You look like a force to be reckoned with in the kitchen !

intuitive eggplant said...

Thanks, Heff. When I found out my culinary "partners in crime" had given up another invite to pitch in, I realized there is no going back. So Team Eggplant is definitely "in" for the Lobster "Culinary Smackdown." If nothing else, we'll have fun and eat well :)

Big Shamu said...

You don't know how much I needed this after two full weeks of Peeps.

Hello Little Piggy.

intuitive eggplant said...

Bwaaaaaaaaahahahah. Yes, time to move on from the Peeps :)

LaDivaCucina said...

Oh yeah, I just HAD to come back and look at crunchy little piggy again!!! Going shopping soon, f*ck lobster, I'm feeling porky now!