If you’ve ever had authentic porchetta then simply speaking the name of this classic Umbrian delicacy makes your mouth water. Succulent young pork, crispy on the outside, so tender and flavorful on the inside, served between two slices of bread, or focaccia, is a must taste for anyone who enjoys food. Every luscious bite of this popular central Italy street food imprints the palate with a special memory that will have you craving porchetta long after you return home.
Porchetta is a simple dish and not to be confused with Italy’s other popular pork products-pancetta and prosciutto. Porchetta is made using the entire pig, much like the familiar “whole hog barbecue” popular in the States.
Traditional porchetta has long been made by slow-roasting a whole hog in a wood fired oven imparting a rich smokey taste. Most of today’s porchetta is made in commercial ovens using a small suckling pig. While Umbria claims porchetta originated there, each region and town from Tuscany to just south of Rome offers their own take on this central Italian specialty.
Some porchetta aficionados claim fennel, which grows wild in the fields around Umbria, is necessary to authentic flavor. Others believe in liberal amounts of garlic, apple, lots of black pepper or the pig’s liver, mixed with lard.
Slow roasting allows the flavors to develop and provides a crispy outer layer while the meat remains tender as the fat seeps inward. The cooking process should take about 8 hours. Roasting the meat too quickly will dry it out and rob it of traditional porchetta flavor.
How Porchetta Has Grown In Popularity
The growing interest in the Slow Food movement, which began north of Umbria, in the Piemonte region, is part of the reason porchetta’s popularity has blossomed all over the country. The movement embraces locally grown food and has a deep passion for all things connected to regional culinary and agriculture practices. What better example than the delicious porchetta.
For the last few years, each May in the town of San Terenziano, in central Italy, there is a porchetta festival. Traditional family cooks and hip young chefs eager to put their own spin on this time-honored dish set up camp and begin the process of crafting their own version of porchetta. These culinary artisans, along with hundreds of hungry attendees, celebrate their favorite delicacy near where it all began. And, like true devotees of porchetta everywhere, they just can’t get enough of their mouthwatering favorite.