This post is a story about a sandwich. It is going to bring us around the world a bit, but stay tuned – I promise we’ll get to the sandwich-y stuff soon enough.
The story starts a few months after Paulus and I had met each other. On our first trip together, we traveled to Vancouver. We fell head over heels in love with the city (also with each other, but that’s a story for another time), not least because of the food.
But also because of all the events and festivals happening everywhere.
And because of the city’s quirkiness peeking out in unexpected places.
And certainly because the landscapes and cityscapes in the area were just stunningly gorgeous.
But oh, the food!
On our second-to-last-day, we accidentally wandered into a sandwich shop called Meat & Bread. The place was packed, so we at first considered going somewhere else. But the place had a great atmosphere – busy, communal tables, a limited menu (which in my general experience means that they do those few things really well), so we decided to stay. There was a long line we had to stand in to get to where we could place our order, but while we waited we were watching the cooks prepare the meat and bread. When I saw them cut into the crackling skin of what looked to be a roll of pork and herbs, I knew what I was going to order, even though I had to ask for the name of the sandwich containing it. It turned out to be a porchetta sandwich. And it was more than worth the wait.
We ware so excited about our sandwiches that we decided to return for our final meal in Vancouver on Sunday, the day of our departure. Imagine our disappointment when we arrived to find that the place was closed on Sundays! I’ve been longing for a repeat of that sandwich ever since.
And then, recently, scouring the internet for recipes and interesting food blogs, I came across Lady & Pups, where the photos are moody and gorgeous and the recipes intriguing. AND THERE WAS A RECIPE FOR A PORCHETTA SANDWICH! It makes my mouth water just thinking about what I’m about to share with you.
I wasn’t able to get a wide piece of pork belly, but I figured I’d be able make a narrower piece work with some maneuvering. To make it rollable, I butterflied the piece by cuttting it in half, horizontally, leaving one centimeter of meat intact so I retained one piece of porkbelly instead of two. That made the proportions much better for the rolling-up.
I rubbed the meat with a mixture of lemon zest, salt and black pepper and covered the meat (not the skin) with plastic wrap and put the whole thing in the fridge to marinate.
About 16 hours later (I hadn’t been organized enough to allow for the suggested 20-24 hours of marinating), I was ready to start the process of rolling and tying the meat. First, though, I prepared the filling of parsley, sage, bay leaves, anchovy fillets, carpers, and garlic. I followed the general guidelines from the Lady & Pups recipe, but I added and subtracted to fit my panty, and my memory of the exalted Meat & Bread porchetta sandwich.
Then the filling was spread onto the meat side of the pork belly.
Next, I sprinkled a spice mix of freshly toasted and ground fennel seeds and black pepper on top.
And then came the rolling.
Careful not to squeeze out the filling (and Paulus is giving me exasperated directions about where not to put my hands, because I kept blocking the shot in my worry to get the rolling right).
Whew, we made it.
Then I just needed to find a way to tie everything together on the fly, as I hadn’t though to research before-hand how you actually tie meat. I think it looks like I know what I’m doing here. Yes?
Maybe less here, but hey, it’s holding together!
After about 70 minutes in the oven, it was time to start brushing the porchetta with a honey-water mixture. This is the first brushing. In between each brushing, the porchetta went back into the oven for 15-20 minutes.
After second brushing.
And finally it was done. Our house was flooded with an enticing porchetta aroma at this point, and I was SO hungry!
While waiting, I had prepared the other sandwich fillings: caramelized balsamic onion jam, a mustard-mayo dressing, and fresh parsley.
I removed the string and managed to cut the porchetta without any mishaps.
Let’s eat already!
Assembling a sandwich.
Finally time to dig in! Although this recipe does require preparation and forethought, it’s definitely worth trying out.