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Nov 7, 2005 03:01 PM

Enoteca Vespaio - my kingdom for another bite of porchetta

  • p

I was recently in Austin on my own for one night which just happened to be on a "First Thursday". I had loads of fun walking around, listening to live music and checking out the shops and vendors. I had checked this board before leaving and when I found myself on South Congress, I figured I'd check out Vespaio.

I ended up with a bar stool at the Enoteca and tucked into one of the best dinners in recent memories. I had the insalata campagnia to start - mixed greens in a lovely, light vinaigrette with roast peppers, cheese and some cured meats on the side. Very tasty. My main was a gorgeous, rustic bowl filled with porchetta, soft polenta and rapini. In a word - ethereal. I practically wept when my stomach begged for mercy as I was only about halfway through. This is a meal for which I would take a serious detour to enjoy again. Service couldn't have been friendlier and I felt completely comfortable on my own.

I also loved Jo's...what a cool place to hang.

Austinites (is that what you're called?), I loved what I saw and ate in my all too brief visit and look forward to returning.

PS - Back to the porchetta, has anyone ever seen the recipe posted anywhere?

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  1. s
    Seamus Mitwurst

    I love porchetta. It is traditionally a holiday festival food. I've seen it eaten in a sandwich or as a roast. Seeing it mixed with polenta and rapini is new to me.
    I like Vespaio and I love porchetta, so I may have yo go again soon. I owe someone dinner there.

    I would ignore most online recipes for porchetta.
    I helped a wop chef friend cook for a wedding and porchetta was the main dish.
    It's simple, but huge.

    Get a suckling pig.
    Debone it.
    Get two loins (or tenderloins if the pig is small) to stuff in the cavity.
    Make a large quantity of the followingmixture: Parsley, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Probably about 2 to 3 quarts worth, or more.
    Coat the inside of the pig and the loins with the mixture.
    Tie the pig closed. (Make it look pretty, like your wife during a bondage session. Nothing like a series of evenly spaced strings to make something organic like a dead pig look all regular and ordered.)
    Roast until done.
    You may have increase the heat for the last 30-45 minutes to make sure the skin gets crisp.
    Let rest
    Slice (Nothing like a cross-section of a dead pig to make me hungry.)

    I'm drooling.
    Thank you for announcing porchetta at Vespaio.

    Oh, and we're called Austinianiolas.


    6 Replies
    1. re: Seamus Mitwurst

      I’m glad that you were rewarded with a good meal at one of the very best Austin restaurants while in town. As far as a recipe goes, I'm assuming, like Seamus, that you meant the recipe for porchetta and not the polenta dish containing it that you had at Enoteca Vespaio?

      Porchetta is a specialty of Abruzzo, Lazio, and other bordering regions of central Italy where it's enjoyed all the time as well as at festivals and banquets. There are some great roadside vendors of this delicacy. The best porchetta I've ever had was at an open-air restaurant in the hills of Lazio outside of Rome. You would order first--everyone always got the porchetta, with maybe some kind of rustic prosciutto, other grilled meats, some hard cheese and olives, and lots of crusty Italian bread--then sit down at outdoor picnic tables for the feast. After a lifetime of eating dry, flavorless U.S. pork, I was in heaven. The porchetta there had a moist, luscious, rich texture, and is marbled with fat, like a good steak. Here most commercial pork has had all the fat (and flavor) bred out of it.

      Here's a recipe that’s been adapted for cooking Italian-style porchetta at home.

      For the pork:
      6-7 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
      1 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
      1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
      kosher or sea salt to taste
      6 lbs. boned fresh pork, preferably from the butt

      For the skin:
      1/2 cup wine vinegar
      1/2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
      1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
      salt to taste
      1 or 2 sheets fresh pork skin, enough to wrap the pork in [a good butcher should be able to get this]

      Rub the meat with the garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper and let sit in a covered dish overnight in the fridge. Combine in a large dish all the ingredients for the skin, add skin, coat with marinade, cover and refrigerate overnight.

      The next day, preheat oven to 450. Wrap meat in skin (get rid of marinade) and roast in a roasting pan until skin starts to color (20 minutes or so). Turn the roast and reduce heat to 375. Cook until the skin is brown and crackling, about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Turn the roast every now and then. You can tell it's ready when the juices from the thickest part run clear when pierced with a skewer. Cool 15 minutes before removing the skin. Cut the skin into strips with scissors or poultry shears. Slice the meat and serve the porchetta surrounded by the strips of skin.

      Ideally, you'd cook porchetta on a spit, but since the dish is traditionally made with a full-grown young pig, not a suckling pig, that would be pretty hard to do.

      I hope this helps.

      1. re: MPH
        Seamus Mitwurst

        MPH, I love you.

        1. re: Seamus Mitwurst

          Right back at ya', Seamus.

          And TCUJoe, any cut of pork roast should work, as long as it isn't lean.


          1. re: MPH
            peppermint pate

            Thanks for the recipe suggestions - yes, if I can figure out the porchetta, I can add in the rapini and polenta myself. In the meantime, I'll enjoy the drooling-semi-catatonic state that sweeps over me when I think back to my beautiful meal at Enoteca Vespaio. Hope you guys get a chance to try it yourselves soon. Cheers!

        2. re: MPH

          Might this work with a fresh pork leg, bone in or deboned?

          1. re: MPH

            As this will be coming down shortly we would ask that you move it to our Home Cooking board, (see link below to take you there) where recipes are discussed and so that the widest possible audience of hungry hounds may benefit from it.

            Thanks for your cooperation.