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In the Lazio region of Italy, summertime means porchetta season.
This summer, Washingtonians can feast on the delicacy―a crackled log of rolled and roasted pork―at 2Amys, where it’s now available on Saturday’s wine bar menu.
Co-owner Peter Pastan says the restaurant already sells a lot of wine from Lazio, so one of the area producers invited a member of the pizzeria’s team to come to Italy and learn about the region’s food ways.
That lucky someone was bespectacled wine bar guru Scott Hager, who traveled to Ariccia, in the Castelli Romani countryside southeast of Rome, where porchetta production is serious business.
In Italy, la porchetta di Ariccia is an Indicazione Geografica Protetta (IGP), which means its production is regulated by law. Under IGP regulation, porchetta can be made from either a whole lean pig or just the torso (or “trunk”) of the animal. 2Amys’ new version is modeled on the latter, sometimes called tronchetto.
In Italy, the trunk must weigh between seven and 13 kilograms and is defined as “the portion of the half pork between the third dorsal vertebra and the last lumbar vertebra.”
The regulations in Washington are less strict. At 2Amys, two porchette are made every other Thursday, when a whole pig arrives from Horst Meats in Hagerstown, Md. The shoulders and legs are removed―“We use them to make sausage,” says Hager―and the torso is split lengthwise along the backbone. Each half is seasoned inside with salt and pepper, garlic, fennel pollen, crushed hot pepper, and rosemary before it is rolled and tied into a log shape about four feet long.
One porchetta is cooked and served a couple of days later; the other chills in the walk-in for a week. As a result, “the porchetta is better every other Saturday,” says 2Amys cook Kenny Smith. “The one that sits in the walk-in has more time to season and, for some reason, its skin crisps up better in the oven.”
Crisp it is. To achieve the crunchy exterior/tender interior-balancing act, Smith roasts the pork in a moist convection oven for three hours before cranking up the heat and blasting its skin to shattering crispness, resulting in a brittle halo of skin around supple, fatty spiced pork.
In Rome, porchetta is typically eaten on a sandwich or sliced up and served on paper in the middle of the table at a tavern. 2Amys varies this informal style by plating its porchetta with borlotti beans and braised broccoli rabe.
So far, the special has been a hit. On most Saturdays, it’s sold out by 8 p.m.
Porchetta ($12) is available at 2Amys, 3715 Macomb St. NW, Saturdays after 4 p.m. (202) 885-5700; www.2amyspizza.com
Photo by Justin Kennedy