Libbys on the Loose:2 Humans. 2 Great Danes. 1 RV.: Porchetta di Testa - Farm-to-Market Pork, Kalispell, MT

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Porchetta di Testa - Farm-to-Market Pork, Kalispell, MT

Warning:  If you don't like images of meat being prepared, etc, please be warned before reading further!

For anyone that knows us (or anyone who's read our Asheville - The Junction post) you know that we are both food lovers and love to cook.  Travelling and living in different areas of the country opens up a lot of diversity in our eating.  We try to eat as "clean" as possible, meaning little packaged foods - basically, we we like to know from where our food comes!

Starting to trim the "face" of the offal
There is a chance that I could be disowned from my family for what I'm about to say, but I can honestly say that I usually prefer a fresh slab of tuna over a steak - venison or beef.  I was absolutely raised in a household that ate a lot of red meat - not that I have any regret or disapproval about that at all, but while  I (we) have come to appreciate meat, at the same time, we've learned that there are so many different methods to prepare fruits and veggies (just like meat) that yield so many different flavors and textures, even from the same items - think onions.

Onions can be raw, cooked until translucent, cooked until transparent, and even cooked to the point where the starches turn to sugars and give a slight sweet, savory flavor known as "caramelizing". Garlic reacts much the same.  Raw, it is very pungent and spicy.  But roast it for an hour or so in the oven, suddenly garlic takes on a buttery, sweet, savory flavor.

I digress.  Back to the meat.  Fresh, pesticide-free, additive-free meat.  In Florida, it's difficult to find an actual butcher.  Sure, there are plenty of supermarkets that have a meat department with a pseudo-butcher, but this is not the type of butcher I came to know and love growing up.   The butchers at the supermarkets are akin to automotive technicians at a lot of car dealers.  Most aren't really mechanics - they just plug a vehicle into a computer to tell them what's wrong with the car.  That's a technician. A mechanic diagnoses a car's problem by troubleshooting and from experience and operating knowledge of the car's unique systems.  Besides, have you ever tried to get a whole pig, or a pig's head, snout, tongue, feet, etc, from a supermarket?  It's slow going. Enter Farm-to-Market Pork.

Face removed and seasoned - be sure to leave
cheek meat and reserve tongue!

For a long time, I've always wanted to smoke or roast a whole pig.  From what we found living in Florida, you either had to know a local pig farmer or speak fluent Spanish, neither of which could we lay claim.  After arriving in Whitefish, Montana and in angus beef country, I thought we might have been able to score a whole pig.  We found even better!

Found on the recommendation of a vendor at the Kalispell Farmer's Market, Farm to Market Pork has a cornucopia of pork products ranging from bacon to chorizo - all fresh made.  If you take no other piece of advice from us, try their bacon!  The bacon is deeply (but not overwhelming) flavored with smoke.  The smoke flavor isn't pungent like a lot of smoked bacon.  I'm not a connoisseur of bacon, but in my experience, this is on par with the best!

Seasoned with capers, lemon zest, garlic,
salt, pepper and rosemary

The best part about Farm to Market is that they were able to supply me with just the pig's head - that's all I needed.  Porchetta di Testa is really just the "face" of the pig (the skin) removed and seasoned.  This part was the most time-consuming (in terms of labor), but was also the easiest. (Cooking it and smelling all the wonderful scents coming off the smoker was the hardest part!)  I decided to smoke the head instead of cooking it sous vide (water immersion).  In retrospect, I would highly recommend using that method!

After rolling the head and securing it with cooking twine,  the pig was ready for the smoker.  I put the temperature at 200 degrees and added the head meat, wrapped pigs head, and a couple of jalapeños I wanted to smoke, all in the Big Green Egg.  I was smoking the items over pecan chips.  I planned to smoke the head for about 18 hours.

Fast-forward nearly a full day, just shy of 24 hours. After checking the internal temperature, I found that it was ready to take off the smoker and rest.   I wrapped the head in aluminum foil and placed in the fridge for the next 2 days.  After removing from the fridge, I sliced the first piece very thing and bit into it.  The flavors were absolutely great!!!  The only problem: texture.

Some of the cartilage from the ears and snout had not completely broken down so they had somewhat of a chewy texture.  Not unbearable or inedible by any means, just not the silky smooth Porchetta like we enjoyed at The Junction!

So, in my short-lived experience, I have learned the following:

  • Porchetta di Testa is best done sous vide for the most consistent results.
  • Porchetta di Testa, when done correctly, is an amazing treat!
  • The process is, by far, one of the most rewarding I've experienced
  • I can't wait for the weather to warm up so I can try it again!
  • Next time I will either smoke the meat for a short duration then sous vide, or vice versa.
Have you ever tried to make this dish or anything like it?  Do you have suggestions?  Please let us know!

Did we get it right? Do you have experience or knowledge about this post? Please make yourself heard! Comment below and we will respond as soon as possible. As always, thanks for following us! Disclaimer: We are not paid writers. We write for enjoyment and to share information about our travels with our families, friends, and our followers. The information that we provide is based on our experiences with the products, services, etc, that we write about. It is 100% non-biased!

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