Blame it on my last week’s Blog. Since writing about Umbria’s wines I’ve been dreaming about porchetta, the world’s most deliziosa pork sandwich. I had my first bite in Umbria where it is as common as pizza. Relatively unknown outside of central Italy until recently, porchetta is quickly becoming the latest foodie rage. It’s popping up on sophisticated menu’s from New York to San Francisco---surprising since it’s a very rustic dish, often sold as street food.
What makes porchetta so special? In Umbria, traditionally the entire pig is gutted and deboned. Then, it is next stuffed with layers of a carefully arranged mixture that includes pieces of its meat, fat, skin, garlic, fennel and lots of herbs such as rosemary. All of this is then rolled into a gigantic roast and tied with string. The porchetta is next roasted on a spit over a wood-burning fire. (In the scaled-down version, just the pork belly is stuffed, but the process of roasting is the same.) The dish is so famous in Umbria that there are even porchetta festivals.
For true pork lovers, porchetta will make you forget all about baby-back ribs. In one mouthwatering bite you have crispy crackling pork skin, the succulent fatty belly and the savory tender loin. It’s addictive. In Umbria, you can get your fix in a variety of places, one of which is on the street. There are vans all over Umbria (often found at the local markets) specially outfitted with rotisseries that sell porchetta sandwiches from a take-out window. Street food will never be this good again.
There are two spaces available on the Wine-Knows Travel June 2015 tour to Umbria. While we’ll be staying in a luxurious 7,000 square foot villa, but you can bet that we’ll sneak in opportunities to try porchetta at the area’s outdoor markets. Thankfully, however, with all of the recent hullaballoo about porchetta, US butchers are becoming more accustomed to people asking for porchetta…so many are offering the fixings to make your own!