A short passage about arista in A while back Bill Buford’s book Heat got me thinking. Why can’t I — here in the pork-multiplying American Midwest — procure a boned-out half of a hog, dump on a few pounds of salt, pepper and herbs, roll it up on itself and cook the Tuscan masterpiece porchetta?
Here’s how Buford describes it:
“Dario used half the pig, the torso, which was boned and rolled up with an extravagance of herbs—garlic, thyme, fennel pollen, pepper, rosemary, and double-ground sea salt—and then cooked it in a hot oven for four hours until it emerged as a noisy sizzling racket, the fat rendered and popping, trailing a black acrid cloud of smoke, a glistening and rather beautiful thing. When sliced, you got the carré, tasting like a tender steak, the bacony stomach, and everything in between.”
Why can’t I indeed. First of all, almost every recipe I’ve come across directs me to a roast of loin. That’s great for Tuesday night, but what am I supposed to do all Sunday?
Second, the local butchers and hog producers around here have no idea what I’m talking about when I call:
“You want what? A halfa hog boned out?”
“Whatcha planning on doin’ with it?”
Two more calls and a promise to get back to me have brought me no closer to what I’m looking to do here: namely, eating slices of loin-bacon-ribmeat all in one delirious bite. The third question is about how I’m going to cook a giant hog-roll in a) my oven or b) my large-enough-but-not-designed-for-roasting smoker.
Special D meats in Macon said they could do this for me but would have to charge me for a full-grown hog even if I wanted a smaller one (after all, I’m not cooking for 200 people). That, and the fact that this would be your average, fatless hog, set me looking again. A month went by and then, a revelation. Heritage Foods USA. They’ll get me a heritage breed (read: old school) hog the size I want. Best of all, they ship all over the country but the hogs are processed north of KC. I can pick the thing up the next time I’m visiting Mrs. SME’s family. Food nut heaven!
_uacct = “UA-4869963-1”;