CRACKLY PORCHETTA AND SWEET GORGONZOLA SANDWICH

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I want to tell you about my trip back in New York in extensive details, I really do.  But I’m jet-lagged… drowsy… sleepy but awake… awake but not really… and the only words I can pound out of my marshmallow of a brain right now, repeating itself in an almost undetectable frequency, are these:

I’m sorry, Di Palo’s.

If you also don’t know what Di Palo’s is, then maybe I’ll feel a little better about myself, but it’s the iconic Italian grocer standing on the same corner in Little Italy for more than 80 years which, for some unforgivable reasons, I had failed to visit in the entire seven years I lived in New York.  But this time around, a friend brought me to its doorstep and introduced me to its porchetta sandwich smeared with dolce gorgonzola…  Ridiculous, just ridiculous, as if the sheer volume of Italian salami’s and cheese it carried wasn’t enough to make me weep in regret, but I had to walk away with an audible sandwich?  Yes, audible, as in even with just one bite, I could hear the sound of the chips-like skin crack under the pressure between my teeth, and tasted its fatty, savory and sticky meats mingle and be with the gentle funk of sweet Italian blue cheese.  Right then and there, walking down the contagiously energetic sidewalks of New York in my joyous steps, I knew I had to recreate the recipe for you.

So here it is, as the ultimate redemption for never visited Di Palo’s in all my times living in New York, a seriously, seriously tasty sandwich.  Just checking out the photo with the knife sticking out and the photo after that, you know how good the skin cracks.  And if you think you see a nipple or two while browsing through the photos, yes they are.  Just bonus materials, you’re welcome.

I promise, hesitantly, that I will talk more about my time in New York, no matter how complicated the mixture of emotions were.  But right now, let’s just get the pork on.

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AS THE ULTIMATE REDEMPTION FOR NEVER VISITED DI PALO’S IN THE ENTIRE SEVEN YEARS I LIVED IN NEW YORK…

AND YES, THOSE ARE NIPPLES.

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CRACKLY PORCHETTA SANDWICH W/ SWEET BLUE CHEESE

Yield: 6~8 sandwiches depending

The porchetta is said to be stuffed with chopped fennels and herbs. I have great difficulty finding fresh fennels (not the bulb but the fronds) in HK, and therefore improvised with fennel seeds and etc. You can replace the fennel seeds with 2 large handfuls of fennel fronds.

Ingredients

    PORCHETTA:
  • 5.4 lbs (2450 grams) skin-on pork belly
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 8~10 fresh bay leaves
  • 8~10 fresh sage leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp caper
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp fish sauce, or 2 fillets of anchovies
  • 1 tsp honey + 2 tsp water
  • FOR THE SANDWICH:
  • ciabatta breads or sliced loaf bread
  • sweet and creamy gorgonzola cheese

Instructions

  1. MARINATE THE PORK BELLY: Trim the pork belly so it has even and straight edges. Mix together lemon zest, salt and black pepper, then rub the mixture evenly over the pork belly on all sides. Place the pork belly SKIN-SIDE UP on a sheet-tray. Loosely tuck some plastic-wraps on the sides to cover the meat, but LEAVE THE ENTIRE SURFACE OF THE SKIN EXPOSED, then place inside the fridge for at least 20 ~ 24 hours. This duration is not only important for marinating, but it also allows the skin to dry up in the fridge which is CRUCIAL for crispiness.
  2. TO COOK THE PORCHETTA: Preheat the oven on 300 F/150 C (I used an oven with the fan on). With a damp towel, rub off /remove any excess salt and zests sticking on all sides of the pork belly, as cleanly as you can (do it twice if needed), then set aside. Toast the fennel seeds in a skillet over medium heat until it starts to pop and smell fragrant, then grind in a spice-grinder or mortar until finely ground. Set aside. Remove the tough middle stems from the bay leaves, then combine them with sage leaves, garlics, capers and sea salt (and anchovies if using), and chop until finely minced. Combine the mixture with ground fennel seeds and fish sauce, then evenly rub it on top of the meat-side of the pork belly.
  3. Roll the belly as tightly as you can into a log, then tie it together with kitchen twines (to learn how to do a simple butcher's netting, check out this post). Place it on a baking-sheet then bake in the oven for 1:30 hour. Now remove the baking-sheet from the oven, then turn the temperature up to 400 F/200 C. Mix honey and water together, then brush it evenly over the skin (this will give you that dark amber color). Return the baking-sheet back in the oven and bake for another 1 hour, brushing the skin with honey-water every 20 min or so. IF YOUR OVEN HEATS UNEVENLY, MOVE THE PORK BELLY AROUND. Once done, transfer the pork belly to a chopping board to rest for 15 min.
  4. The porchetta is best served within 1 hour after it's rested, or else the skins will become soggy and tough.
  5. TO MAKE THE SANDWICH: This step is a no-brainer. Chop up and pile a good mount of porchetta in between breads (preferably ciabatta, toasted if you like), then add a good smear of that creamy, dolce gorgonzola cheese on top. A bit of pepper, beer, set.
http://ladyandpups.com/2016/10/06/crackly-porchetta-and-sweet-gorgonzola-sandwich/
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12 Comments

  • Dude. Duuuuude. 😑 There are no words.
    Thank you so much for sharing this creation with us.
    (And I can relate to living in a city and not taking advantage of the gems there until you go back and visit)… it’s weird but at least you got to experience it and get this idea from it.
    PS I just found your blog and am making the cruffins [in a pasta machine – you are a genius!!!] this weekend. Can’t wait to read more; I’m hooked after just reading 2 blog entries ;D

  • Hi! In italian we say “gorgonzola dolce”, not dolce gorgonzola 😁 that sounds really weird to my ears. Incredible recipe, btw! Cheers!

  • I’ve lived in NYC for 35 years and today was my first visit to Di Palo’s, thanks to you! Lucky me, their porchetta had just come out of the oven, so I happily waited for about 15 minutes for my sandwich, ordered according to your instructions, and it was heavenly! Here’s the best part: my server said her uncle told her that another person had ordered the same exact sandwich that morning, but the porchetta wasn’t fresh out of the oven, it was from the fridge. The server and her uncle thought the specifics of the sandwich ingredients were “unique”, so I explained that I was following instructions from a food blog, Lady & Pups. Then while I was paying, yet another person ordered the same exact sandwich. My server and her uncle were all smiles and said they would look up Lady & Pups!

    • Janet, hahaaa lol! I don’t even know how the blue cheese got into the sandwich, like was it on the menu or some customer started it, but it was such a good pairing. And thanks for mentioning us!

  • My stomach feels soo inspired right now. This looks like a fun and somewhat novel way to cook for me, or I’m guessing, for many of us in general. It looks too good! I’m a huge fan of pork in general and to top it off, I feel so fortunate I get to enjoy it in its uttermost “wholesome” way possible at least one every two months or so–at church we often eat Lechon and sometimes it even has the apple in the mouth, hahaha! But this looks like a great and easy alternative.

  • Okay, well I live in New York and have heard of Di Palo’s but did not know ABOUT THIS SANDWICH! *_* Thank you for spreading the good gospel of porchetta. I now know what I’m doing on my next day off…

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