Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Porchetta & Co

Since Porchetta & Co offers one perfect main dish, I'm serving up a different twist on my usual illustration approach. Everything that goes into preparing the meat for a porchetta sandwich is broken down into a few simple steps, which I'll draw up for you. It's care and an ideal method that have made this little hole in the wall at 825 Dundas West a destination for food lovers, earning Porchetta & Co a spot on the Globe and Mail top 10 restaurants of 2011 (even though it only has four stools and a skinny bar to eat at!).

The sandwich runs a fair $6.45, with plenty of side options. Gillian and I get variations, both steering clear of the overwhelming porchetta plate option (way too much food!). She gets her sandwich with fried mushrooms (+0.75), and I get mine with truffle sauce (+0.75). We both dive for Kozlik's mustard. I have so many jars in my fridge! I love this stuff. Gillian and I share a few sides; rapinis ($3.95), roast fingerling potatoes ($2.95) and a small soup which is still big enough ($4.95). Soup du jour is cream of mushroom & truffle.

The sandwiches come on big, fluffy sourdough buns from the the Caldense bakery across the street. The sandwich can only be described as luxurious pig fat madness. It is hewn off the communal porchetta roast in thick slabs, cooked pork belly clinging to the outside, with the middle layer of prosciutto creating a crisp and fatty rind full of flavor. It is terrifically abundant. I'm glad for the size of the bun whose chewy, floury walls are working hard to keep everything contained. These aren't skimpy portions, and the meat is firm and filling. The truffle sauce has a hard time competing with such prominent meat flavours, which are working in great harmony and don't need any help

The crust formed by the first heat of cooking the porchetta roast is amazing, and my favourite part of this sandwich. It becomes a hard layer of cracklins. They're such a texture shift from the soft bun and the firm but tender meat!

It's the same truffle sauce, an extra creamy mayo infused with the prized fungus, which is drizzled over the hearty mushroom soup as it's only source of truffle. The soup was blended into a heavy coagulation of peppery and earthy flavours, dominated by soy, and a browning like gravy.

Our sides were simple and unassuming. The roast fingerling potatoes were golden through and through, the skin tended and fine. A light coat of oil with just enough salt made them go down smoothly, very like a coating of butter. They're moist and fluffy, not floury.

The rapini are also very simple, served roasted (I think) with a light toss of butter and chilis. The chilis get pretty hot after a few mouthfuls. I always enjoy rapini as a side to pork dishes, the bitter kick of these broco-relatives makes a good balance for the naturally sweet brawn of the pig. 

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