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Monday, December 20, 2010

Marin Sun Farms' Spit-Roasted Porchetta

Posted By on Mon, Dec 20, 2010 at 7:52 AM

click to enlarge Slab of cooked Marin Sun Farms' porchetta ($11.99/pound), from a Duroc-Berkshire crossbreed hog. - JOHN BIRDSALL
  • John Birdsall
  • Slab of cooked Marin Sun Farms' porchetta ($11.99/pound), from a Duroc-Berkshire crossbreed hog.

Monday, December 20, 2010

'Tis the season of meat: Christmas hams, stuffed pork crowns with a fringe of splayed bones, even something marketed to vegans as the Celebration Roast. King among them is Marin Sun Farms' porchetta, available at the Rockridge butcher shop uncooked ($9.99/pound) or, on Fridays and Saturdays, already spit-roasted ($11.99/pound), cut from a huge, crackly-skinned slab. The thing about porchetta ― proper porchetta ― is that you should feel the drama of it. Instead of some tidy, rolled up loin or shoulder roast served up in a restaurant, porchetta should have some connection to whole-animal cookery. It should seem unwieldy, fatty enough to signal celebration food, something you feel you can't quite manage in your own oven.

Cooked porchetta from Marin Sun Farms checks off all those boxes. The slab in the picture above (about a 2-pound hunk) is a slice from the whole center section of a hog: a cushion of belly (i.e., the fatty part bacon comes from), loin, tenderloin ― the muscles separated, smeared with a paste of garlic, chiles, coarsely pounded fennel and coriander seed, rosemary, and enough salt to signal danger. The hog here is a Duroc-Berkshire crossbreed, raised in Petaluma by Pete Langley of Langley Farms. It's an animal bred to have a healthy cushion of fat, as you can see from the stuff congealed on the skin. Warm it briefly in a gentle oven, and what you get is a slab of meat that's a study in the variable texture of muscle, the luxuriousness of fat, and the sheer astonishment of roasted pork skin, which is like the brittle, burnt-sugar top crust of crème brûlée, only built up over so many layers your teeth have to bear down to crack it ― an experience of celebration as old as our species' love of roasted meat.

Marin Sun Farms Butcher Shop: Rockridge Market Hall, 5655 College (at Shafter), Oakland, 510-601-8997.

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