The other day we had the honor of working with Chef Paul Canales from Oliveto, Oakland CA. Paul was at the school to work on a harvest dinner and he wanted to serve a Porchetta. Porchetta is typically a pork dish stuffed with fennel, herbs, salt and can vary depending on the chef. It is like a street food sold during festivals or picnics. Here at the school we typically use a small suckling pig and bone the entire thing, leaving the skin intact. The skin becomes a crispy addition to the dish.
For Paul, we got in a number of local market size half hogs that weighed around 100 lbs each. He conducted a great demo for my class in which he described so many ways to prepare pork. We discussed curing and also how pork is fabricated differently in Italy compared to the US style. He decided we would make the Porchetta from the loin and belly section.This meant boning all of the ribs and back bone. It was a great show of butchery craftsmanship and Paul attributed part of what he learned to the CIA's meat class. He pressed my students to absorb as much of the class as possible because the butchery skills it provides gives you so many more options in a restaurant.
Once the bellys and loin were fabbed he seasoned it with salt and an amazing ground red pepper from Scicily and some fennel flowers that he brought from Oakland. Then he rolled the belly into the loin creating a large roast.
After his demo, Chef Sebald's class arrived and I took my class upstairs for lecture. Paul was gracious enough to do the entire demo again which I know Han's class appreciated.
That afternoon my two TA's Steven Bookbinder and Kevin McCann worked on the rest of the hogs and got a chance to really hone some skills. All in all it was a great day for butchery at the CIA.... and we still have all the hams and shoulders to make into other stuff! (Steven has already salted a ham for a dry cure! Chef Elia wants the fennel flowers and shoulders for sausage.)