Christmas Menu – Franco Perugini’s Savory Porchetta

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Perugini Franco Macelleria – A Yummy Place to Shop

Hey Babbo Natale – Listen up La Befana – All I want for Christmas is…..

My God, my God, I kept repeating as I slowly slid more into my mouth.  Every part of my being was tingling with the sensation.  I groaned and stared at the ceiling.  Everyone in the macelleria looked at me like I was crazy, had sprouted a second head and would soon be banished to hell.  Nicla, whispered to her father the butcher,  Lei ha detto, “il mio dio.”

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Franco Perugini – Master of Porchetta

This incredible taste bud experience was literally the best one I had during the frenetic August Festa di San Donato.  San Donato had blessed me by sending me into Perugini Franco Macelleria and introducing  my taste buds to this heavenly porchetta made in Pontelandolfo (BN).   Now, as I think about Christmas dinner, I don’t lust for goose, I don’t lust for beef, I want porchetta!!!!  Oh, you’re wondering, what the heck is porchetta?

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No I Never Bought the Whole One!  I Wish I Did.

It is a boneless loin of pork that has been butterflied – cut in half so it opens like a book – filled with a herb mixture, wrapped in pork belly – skin side out and meat side seasoned- rolled like a log and tied with string.  I think Franco also seasons the outside.  It is roasted at a high heat and the outside gets crispy while the inside is tender and flavorful.  (Most of what I have tasted at festas and in bars is not.) When it is sliced you see ring inside ring of good tastes.

According to Wkipedia –

 Porchetta has been selected by the Italian Ministero delle Politiche Agricole, Alimentari e Forestali as a prodotto agroalimentare tradizionale(“traditional agricultural-alimentary product”, one of a list of traditional Italian foods held to have cultural relevance).

Now that I have tasted the porchetta made by the Perugini family, I can understand why it is honored as a cultural tradition.  Franco tells me that folks buy it from him and he vacuum packs it to take back to America.  Napolitans, who have weekend houses here, buy it to take back to Naples.  Next time I have a party in Pontelandolfo, I intend to buy one, show it to my guests and not share.

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Nicla Perugini proudly follows in her Dad’s footsteps making incredible pork products.

After discovering this family’s porchetta and sausages, I must admit we ate them often.  The porchetta was great reheated in a covered skillet with barely any water covering the bottom.  We also ate it room temperature on wonderful crusty bread.  The sausages – particularly the hot ones – could be found on our table regularly.

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Next time you are in Italy, I challenge you to try the best porchetta anywhere.  Stop by Perugini Franco Macelleria Moderna,  Via Nazionale Sud, Pontelandolfo (BN).  I wish they had a web site and shipped to to the USA.  If they did, I know what we would be having for Christmas Dinner.

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Cozy Entrance Features Produce

Next year before we head back to the states, I’m getting some vacuum packed to go – a lot of it!

Buon Natale and enjoy whatever you decide to make for Christmas dinner!

PS – send a letter to Babbo Natale – http://www.babbo-natale.it

La Macelleria – Carnivore Heaven

Take a moment and imagine small town America before ugly strip malls and giant box stores polluted the landscape.  See happy healthy people greeting their neighbors as they walk to those wonderful, small family owned shops.

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Turn of the 20th century shopping in Pontelandolfo!

Clutching your mom’s hand you visit the butcher, who knows your name and gives you a big smile.  You mom says she wants to have a pork roast for dinner – the butcher asks for how many people?  “Just six” she says.   The big walk-in fridge is opened and you see giant hanging slabs of meat – half a cow, a whole pig – is that goat? 

Meat hooks at a butcher.
Meat hooks at a butcher. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 He pulls down the pig carcass and brings it to the giant wooden shopping block.  Like a sculptor wielding sharpened knives and a dancer moving to the  crack of the cleaver, the butcher magically creates the perfect  pork roast just for you. Wrapped in white butcher paper and tied with twine, the gift of good eating is ready to carry home.   Hmmmm – no porcine growth hormones, no chemical enhancements just farm grown – the way nature intended it  – meat.  

Growing up in Flagtown, NJ – when the area was still rural/agrarian – I actually played in fields that held cows, pigs, chickens, goats, sheep and lots of piles of @#$%.  My grandmother taught us how to butcher and clean poultry and game.  Our little village even had a butcher shop.  Aniello De Scala moved from Brooklyn to Flagtown long before I was born to open a small shop and get away from the Brooklyn mob (so his daughter told me).  When I was a kid Aniello’s son George was the butcher.  (One of the De Scala butcher blocks is currently feeling lonely in my garage.)  Then the developments started eating up the farm land and “progress” brought us supermarkets.  Small stores faded away…..

Living in Pontelandolfo is a return to a kinder and gentler way of living and eating. We are in carnivore heaven in Pontelandolfo – there are not one, not two but three butcher shops in our little village – great food means a lot to  Pontelandolfesi.   The shop I visited the most was  Marcelleria, Cinque M.A.M. S.R.L., located at Via Falcone E Borsellino. (I have no clue what the initials mean – they’re all on the sign.) My cousin Carmella explained that this shop was a cooperative for the local farmers – a big plus for me.

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Santina Guerrera, ace butcher
and charming woman.

Santina Guerrera (h’mm is she related to me?) would greet me every time I went into her Macelleria with a big smile and once with a great question – “Hai intenzione di parlare un buon italiano oggi o cattivo italiano?” (Are you going to speak good Italian today or bad Italian?)  I paused, shrugged my shoulders, smiled and repied “Sempre cattivo!” (Always bad.)  Clean up your minds – this wasn’t about talking dirty but speaking Italian properly – something I still haven’t mastered. Santina would smile as I fuddled through my orders.  The first time I wanted chicken for my extended family of eleven, I learned what an Italian meat portion was.  I originally asked for 7 chicken breasts and four full thigh/legs.  Santina looked at me and asked “how many are you cooking for?”  When I said eleven she cut the order in half and got the cleaver out to separate thighs from legs and cut each breast in half.  I thought, this won’t feed eleven.  In the USA everybody gets 1/2 pound each!  She was right, my Italian cousins eat small healthy portions.

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Santina prepares beef and pork for grinding.

One day, I decided to make an “American” meal for my extended family.  Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and some green thing or another.  I told Santina what I wanted to make – un grande polpettone – and couldn’t understand why she took huge hunks of meat out of the walk in fridge.  Midge, you silly girl, she is going to grind it fresh!

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She tossed  a hunk of beef and a hunk of pork in the giant grinder and out came ground integrated meat.  I started to drool on the counter.  Of course everything I bought was beautifully wrapped up for me.

The other butcher I visited was Macelleria Perugini Franco on Via Falcone Borsellino, 4.  Franco made incredible sausage.  At first I had to figure out what days he was grinding meat and adding his magical spices – because until I got the schedule down there wouldn’t be any left!  He made the sausage fresh.  I just found an old receipt and it only cost me  € 3,87 (about $5 for 4 servings of freshly made exceptional sausage.)

No matter where we are in the world, I try never to buy supermarket meat – schifoso – wrapped in plastic, pumped full of chemicals, grown in small crowded cages – gag me – chicken and beef that  – well I better stop so I don’t ruin your appetite. When Jack and I are in Flagtown we buy most of our meat directly from local farmers – Farview Farm (http://www.farviewfarm.com) in Readington and Lima Farms (http://limafamilyfarms.com) in Hillsborough.

Carnivores of the world unite behind your local butcher and family farm!  We are blessed to have ours in both of our home towns.