Another week, another delayed sandwich. My bad. Resting my back again. It’s on the mend I think.
This one came via recommendation from noted Twitterer @Bobby_BigWheel, who in fact joined me for the sandwich. That turned out to be important, since I would not have been able to figure out the system on my own. More on that in a bit.
For like the billionth straight week, the sandwich of the week includes pork. Actually, this sandwich includes almost exclusively pork. My bad. I hereby promise that next week’s sandwich will not include pork. Even if that means me eating something humble that I construct myself, like just a ham and cheese or something, I’ll do it. Wait, ham, no!
The sandwich: Porchetta on Italian bread from Di Palo Dairy, 200 Grand St. in Manhattan.
The construction: Porchetta on Italian bread.
Only it’s a little more complex than that…
Important background information: The system at Di Palo is not an intuitive one. This is why it’s good to go with someone experienced like Mr. BigWheel. Since it is a meat-and-cheese shop and not necessarily foremost a sandwich purveyor, you first take a number at the counter, then go pick out bread. When it’s your turn, you hand them the bread you’ve chosen — a loaf of Italian bread is an obvious choice for a hero — then tell them what you want on it, and how much.
A half-pound is a good guideline for a hefty hero-sized sandwich. I don’t know if anyone adds cheese or any other sort of meat to porchetta sandwiches. They were recommended to me with only porchetta, and I was so busy trying to figure out the system (and running a bit late, to boot) that I wasn’t about to stray from the standard.
Porchetta, I should say, is an Italian roast pork. From the Internet, it seems like it is the type of thing that varies pretty widely in terms of preparation and seasoning.
What it looks like:
How it tastes: Amazing. That is to say this is a sandwich that prompts amazement.
Specifically, I am amazed: a) That a food which is technically only one thing — porchetta — can be responsible for such an outrageous array of flavors and textures and b) That I had somehow gone 30 years and nearly four months without eating that thing.
Holy crap, that’s a good thing.
I’m guessing Di Palo’s porchetta — maybe all porchetta? — comes from the belly of the pig (the part we use for bacon), because there’s crispy, salty skin in there, enough to give the whole sandwich some crunch. And then there’s the fat — I know that sounds gross, but consider that there’s no dressing on this sandwich and a lot of what we use to dress sandwiches isn’t much different than pure fat anyway — which seeps into the bread and makes the whole thing practically drip with moisture. And the hunks of pork-flavored pork. Oh lord WE HAVE TO GO BACK.
And the seasonings! I don’t even know what was in there. Rosemary? Is that rosemary? I think that’s rosemary. It’s delicious. There’s a peppery kick, too — a spicyness that gets you toward the end of the sandwich, that you don’t even notice at the beginning because you’re too busy thinking about how awesome pork is.
How awesome is pork?
Sorry. Look, lest you think this is some sort of weird cultural or religious schaudenfreude and I’m trying to brag that my particular backgrounds allow me to enjoy the meat of this particular beast, trust that I just happen to really, really enjoy the meat of this particular beast. It’s so amazing. I mean, chicken is great and all, but I defy you to find me a chicken that — no matter how it’s prepared — can produce half as many flavors and textures as you’ll find on a sandwich like this one. You can’t. There’s no chicken.
I didn’t even get to the bread on this sandwich. That was great too. Enshrine it!
What it’s worth: You pay for the meat by the pound and the bread is separate, even though they construct it for you. All told, the sandwich was something like $7.16.
How it rates: 93 out of 100.