Cooking the Books 

A Complete Holiday Table with Portland's Most Beloved Chefs

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WITH THE FALL came a spate of new cookbooks by highly recognized Portland chefs. Cookbooks have always made me a bit nervous. To an anxious and detail-driven home cook, hundreds of steps seem left out of every recipe—thousands of questions go unasked, unanswered. In a perfect world, I would be able to see what kind of gas the chef puts in his car on the way to the grocery store, let alone what he considers a "pinch" of salt.

I took a few months to get to know each cookbook, and then each chef. We cooked together in their restaurants, based on my idea of building a holiday table out of dishes from each book. In the spirit of this issue, that's a bit of a cheat—but can you blame me? Who wouldn't want to prepare signature dishes alongside John Gorham, Gabe Rucker, and Nick Zukin?

These books have proven, after cover-to-cover inspection, not to deserve such paranoia. It was a considerable treat all the same, though, to play sous behind some of the hottest ranges in town. (Toro Bravo literally melts one 10-burner range a year—their welds fall apart and they lean over in place like abandoned barns.)

To fill out the holiday table, I also spent some time with (currently book-less) chefs whose food and restaurants I admire. Jason French of Ned Ludd is no stranger to these pages, and anyone who's eaten at his restaurant has experienced the remarkable feeling of hoping nobody else finishes the vegetables before you can get a second serving. Rick Gencarelli of Lardo and Grassa provides a boldly seasoned, naturally marbled pork roast that has Norman Rockwell gravitas, but requires only an hour of cook time and a little prep that goes a very long way.

I'd like to thank the chefs who welcomed me into their busy kitchens, gamely fielded questions, and showed their most generous selves, despite the 16-hour days and general mayhem of restaurant life.

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THE MENU

Potatoes bravas (John Gorham, Toro Bravo)

Bone marrow and caramelized onion sandwiches (Gabe Rucker, Le Pigeon)

Keegal (Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole)

Radicchio salad with hazelnut parsley vinaigrette and apple cider syrup (Jason French, Ned Ludd)

Quick porchetta (Rick Gencarelli, Grassa, Lardo)

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Toro Bravo: Stories. Recipes. No Bull.

John Gorham (Toro Bravo), with Liz Crain

Side Dish: Potatoes Bravas

John Gorham's first book features plenty of the "greatest hits" that Toro Bravo fans rely on, but the wise editors at McSweeney's also insisted on a strong autobiographical angle. Thanks to that, it reads like a couple of my personal favorites: White Heat by Marco Pierre White, and The Apprentice by Jacques Pépin. These are books that explain the chef himself in detail, because, ostensibly, we'd like to know the nature of the person behind the creative output that we enjoy. Toro Bravo is written in a casual, engaging tone that weaves Gorham's itinerant path into a classic hero's journey narrative that's a search for—and discovery of—home. It's intimate, genuine, risky... and deeply underscored with a dark thread that makes the victories matter. He's returned from his life's constant travels, rich with the spoils of an international pantry, to the benefit of a city with an endless appetite for the gastronomic novelty of unseen lands.

We cooked potatoes.

Specifically, we cooked potatoes bravas, a dish more emblematic of his vibrant, Spanish-centered food—to me, anyway—than any other. It may seem like an unimaginative choice, given all the paella and Moorish lamb on offer, but the recipe gives you three powerful and versatile components to use elsewhere in your cooking: bravas sauce (sweet, tart, and full-bodied, though Gorham very much prefers not to compare it to a barbecue sauce), aioli (an astounding version whose silken texture is born in a mortar), and bravas salt, a seasoning blend that seems beautifully suited to pork and chicken rubs as well as these fried potatoes.

After a proud tour of the sacred catacombs of Toro Bravo—clean, orderly, entirely tempting—we go to work in the surprisingly small open kitchen. ("We move like a typewriter in here," he says. "No one reaches across anyone else.") Bull horns are mounted over doorways, the walls are a deep and true blood red, and the chef, who bears more than a passing resemblance to John "The Ox" Entwistle, stands before a mighty cutting board. While I'm usually tempted to jump in and help prep, today I opt to flip through my heavily marked preview copy of the cookbook and ask questions. The book has many observations that require a good deal of experience to attain—like how Gorham doesn't like his chefs to make dishes until they love them, because it shows in the work—and he's happy to expound.

Throughout the prep and cooking there is no magic dust or special machinery, and yet after very little work we have exactly the potatoes bravas I've seen time and again in the dining room: fragrant from five meters, rich, creamy, a full-palate experience of bold and balanced flavors. Gorham sets the oversized portion out for us and a few staff to eat, signs my book with a sketch of a bull's head, and I thank him for his time.

The potatoes bravas recipe is in the Toro Bravo cookbook; here, I've also included annotations and pointers gleaned during a morning of cooking at Toro Bravo.

Potatoes Bravas

Courtesy of John Gorham of Toro Bravo

From the book Toro Bravo: Stories. Recipes. No Bull.

4 Kennebec potatoes peeled, cut into 1 ½-inch cubes, and rinsed under cold water until the water runs clear (russets are fine too, and those are what we first used for our bravas, but the Kennebecs are sweeter and fry better)

½ gallon rice oil for frying (peanut or canola will work too)

¼ cup bravas salt:

¼ cup salt

1 tablespoon sugar

Pinch cayenne

1 tablespoon pepper

2 tablespoons Spanish smoked sweet paprika (Pimentón de la Vera)

2 tablespoons paprika

2 cups bravas sauce:

½ yellow onion, thinly julienned

1 clove garlic, minced

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 nyora chilies

2 cups canned tomatoes

¼ cup sugar

1/3 cup white wine vinegar

Splash white wine

2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped

Salt and pepper

½ cup aioli (recipe follows this one)

Bravas Salt

1. Toss all of your bravas salt ingredients in a small bowl until well mixed.

Bravas Sauce

1. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil until the onions are translucent. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and slowly simmer for about 1½ hours.

2. Remove the sauce from the heat, puree it, adjust the salt and pepper to taste, and let cool.

Potatoes

1. Heat your oil to 300 degrees. In a deep fryer or large, deep cast-iron pot over medium-high heat, submerge the potatoes in rice oil for about 5 minutes. If you're using a larger deep fryer or larger pot, then you can cook them all at once, but do them in smaller batches if not. You don't want to overfill and have the potatoes not cook properly. Never salt before frying; salt breaks down the molecular structure of the oil and your food won't fry properly.

2. Strain the potatoes and cool them.

3. Once cooled use the same oil (unless you are using canola; then replace with new oil) and fry potatoes at about 370 degrees for 3 to 5 minutes until they're golden and crisp.

4. Strain the potatoes and toss them in the bravas salt first and then in the bravas sauce. Serve hot on a platter topped with aioli (recipe follows).

Aioli

4 cloves garlic

1½ teaspoons sea salt (not kosher), divided

¼ lemon, zested

¼ lemon, juiced

1 egg yolk

1 teaspoon pepper, divided

3 tablespoons water, divided

2 cups oil blend (20 percent olive oil, 80 percent safflower oil)

1. Mortar and pestle the garlic and 1 teaspoon sea salt into a paste, then add the lemon zest, lemon juice, egg yolk, ½ teaspoon of pepper and incorporate.

2. Set up a mixing bowl with a towel wrapped around it at the base to keep it somewhat stationary. Robustly whisk the mortar and pestle contents into it, adding 1 tablespoon of water and then slowly drizzling in a cup of the oil for about 1 minute.

3. The aioli should be getting pretty tight at this point. If it is, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of water and whisk again while drizzling in the remaining cup of oil. If it isn't, whisk until it is, and then drizzle in the remaining water and oil.

4. Add the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper and whisk to incorporate. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking.

Note: You want aioli to hold its shape but still be loose and jiggle if you put a spoonful on a plate and shake the plate. It should react a little like Jell-O. When aioli cools, it tightens up.

5. Serve immediately or store tightly covered for 3 to 4 days. At day four or five, aioli gets metallic tasting because the acid starts having its way with the garlic.

Chris Onstad's notes on the bravas salt:

Smoked sweet paprika, when heated in hot oil (particularly on the surface of a just-fried potato) blooms explosively in flavor and aroma. It's the must-have ingredient in this seasoned salt.

Notes on the bravas sauce:

The hard-to-find (perhaps because John Gorham buys them all) dried nyora chilies are critical to re-creating the flavor you've had at his restaurants. They have a nutty, roasted pumpkin-seed character that permeates the sauce like a rising sun during its hour-plus simmering time. If you can't find them, the far-more-common dried ancho or guajillo chilies can be used instead. And if you, like me, thought the sauce got its thick body from copious amounts of butter, that is happily untrue—Gorham simply purees it in a food processor long enough to incorporate air. For the white wine, he uses a dry, low-alcohol Txakoli.

Notes on the potatoes:

The sweeter Kennebec potatoes specified in the recipe really are ideal; russet or German butterball can be used, but to a lesser effect. The potatoes are fried in two stages; the second can take place up to a day after the first, if the potatoes are kept refrigerated. This will save lots of day-of cooking, as the oil needs to climb significantly in temperature between the two batches.

Notes on the aioli:

Gorham began by gently grinding the garlic and salt into a creamy paste in a granite mortar, advising against aggressive pounding. The creaminess attained here is impossible to get with the blades of either a knife or food processor.

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Le Pigeon: Cooking at the Dirty Bird

Gabe Rucker, Le Pigeon (with Meredith Erickson, Lauren Fortgang, Andrew Fortgang)

Appetizer: Bone Marrow and Caramelized Onion Sandwiches

While leafing through Gabe Rucker's book, Le Pigeon: Cooking at the Dirty Bird, I gathered a fairly long wish list of things to cook together. We settled on this recipe, which is gnarly and unusual enough to represent his style of cooking, yet quick and accessible enough for home cooks. It is, of course, decadent and delicious.

The book is a long and thorough look into the principled irreverence of Le Pigeon's lexicon. A crash course in the history of the restaurant and its major players gives way to 300 pages of fish, tongue, game animals, an expansive section on foie gras, more commonplace meats, and desserts by Lauren Fortgang, Le Pigeon's lauded pastry chef. It's studded with purveyor profiles, a love letter to Plymouth Valiants, and other colorful passages that underscore the mythos of the dirty bird. Every recipe gets a thoughtful introduction and highly detailed, clear process description.

I was told from the outset that Rucker had very little time, which I had no trouble believing. New baby, new book, events on both coasts, and a pesky little internationally renowned restaurant at the nexus of Portland's food identity seem to call him in all directions at once. And that's when the Giants aren't playing.

We met at 10 am at Le Pigeon on a slate-gray and drizzling morning, and I carried the loaf of Franz potato bread I had been charged with providing. Rucker, who seems to be a graduate of the Dale Carnegie School of Professional Good Humor, was operating on what I calculated to be two hours of sleep: a fitful newborn had had him up until 4 am, and he'd had to come in at 7 am to sack someone—someone important enough to get up early for. Despite it all, he was on point, patient, and effortlessly friendly. In his condition, I probably would have locked the door and pelted any approaching food writers with wads of old rice.

With the photographer happily clicking away, we pureed bone marrow and butter in a food processor, spread it on the humble bread, layered on sweet, nearly melted onions, closed the sandwiches, and smeared their surfaces with not so much softened butter that you could no longer see the bread itself... but close. When both sides were toasted on a hot cast-iron skillet (his charring was dynamic, toeing the line between golden brown and oblivion; mine was dull and even, like a band of dentists covering Papa Doo Run Run), we quartered and plated them. They got their final charm with a drizzle of the best balsamic he had—these kinds of chefs always have something older than your father, given to them by Italian peerage—and a shower of flat-leaf parsley.

The bone marrow and caramelized onion sandwich isn't something they do at Le Pigeon anymore, but it's in the book to represent their earlier, more casual days. He describes it as a decadent grilled cheese, creamy and rich with the pureed, now-melted marrow, butter, and sweet onion filling. It's an excellent, conversation-starting appetizer with which to begin a night of steady imbibing.

Bone Marrow and Caramelized Onion Sandwich

Courtesy of Gabriel Rucker of Le Pigeon

Reprinted with permission from Le Pigeon by Gabriel Rucker, Meredith Erickson, Lauren Fortgang, and Andrew Fortgang, copyright © 2013. Published by Ten Speed Press.

4 ounces (125 grams) bone marrow (from 6 to 8 bones)

¼ cup (60 grams) unsalted butter, softened, plus 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 yellow onions, thinly sliced

½ teaspoon kosher salt

8 slices potato bread or other soft white bread

Maldon flake salt

4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley

Aged balsamic vinegar for drizzling

1. Place the marrow and ¼ cup of the butter in a food processor and puree until creamy. Set aside at room temperature while you caramelize the onions.

2. Heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions and kosher salt and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until well caramelized and sweet, about 20 minutes. Transfer the caramelized onions to a plate and cool to room temperature.

3. Divide the pureed marrow mixture among four slices of the bread, spreading it evenly. Divide the caramelized onions among the remaining four slices of bread, and sprinkle the onions with Maldon salt. Press together the slices of marrow-coated bread and onion-covered bread to form four sandwiches.

4. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons butter. Toast the sandwiches as if you were making grilled cheese, in batches as necessary, until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Cut each sandwich in half, arrange on a plate with a sprig of parsley and a healthy drizzle of balsamic vinegar, and serve.

Chris Onstad's notes on procedure:

Bone marrow isn't something I'd used before. Gabriel Rucker soaks the raw bones in tap water overnight to draw out blood and other discoloring impurities, and then—because the purveyors set aside the good stuff for him—easily pops the marrow out of the bone with a finger. If it's giving you trouble, he recommends punching it out with a sharpening steel or wooden spoon handle. Marrow will typically need to be pre-ordered from your butcher.

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The Artisan Jewish Deli at Home

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole (co-authored with Michael Zusman)

Feed-an-Army Comfort Starch: Keegal

We did the math, and figured out that Nick Zukin was, perhaps portentously, the first person I met when I moved to Portland in April 2009. While our U-Haul cooled after its nearly 700-mile San Francisco to PDX trek, Zukin seated us at his then-restaurant, Kenny & Zuke's, and we settled into our new lives. Four years later, Zukin, a regular companion on my food-writing journeys, invited me into his kitchen at Mi Mero Mole, to cook from his latest book, The Artisan Jewish Deli at Home.

The 100-plus-recipe book contains the greatest hits of Jewish deli cookery, from a masterful smoked pastrami, to matzo balls, gefilte, and babka. Zusman, the creator of Kenny & Zuke's bagel recipe, contributes sound recipes for challah, rye, bagels, and pretzels. It's a full-color, beautifully executed book rich with lore, history, interviews, and an unmistakable affection for tradition. In this season's field of books, it's easily the most scholarly tome.

The labor of love that is pastrami hardly fit our theme of quick hacks and workarounds, much as I would have loved to make one alongside Zukin. I settled on keegal (also known as kugel), the dairy-enriched casserole of egg noodles and little else. Keegal is a custard of egg, sour cream, cottage cheese, and a dash of white pepper, which is stirred into a little over a pound of par-cooked egg noodles, then baked in a tray until the egg has set and the top is golden. It is pure and unadulterated buttery, tender, bliss—the kind of side, like perfect scalloped potatoes, that can easily outshine a passable roast.

Outside of grinding some fresh white pepper in a blender, the recipe requires Zukin to do little more than measure and bake; we fill the intervening time talking of the new restaurant finds we're both always looking for. He introduces me to Malta, a soda made with beer ingredients, and we learn from his prep cook that the Mayan word for faucet is the same as the term for a joint. The dish offers pleasantly little drama, though we notice late in the game he's neglected to brush the top with melted butter (to help it brown). This problem fixed, we bake it another 10 minutes and it emerges, golden-crusted where it's touched the pan, with the browned edges of noodles curling appetizingly across the surface. It's ready to cut and eat right out of the pan.

The keegal feeds 12-18, takes about five minutes of active cooking, and needs only an hour in the oven to completely set. It's inexpensive. It reheats well. It's mundane yet unusual. In short, it's the perfect side to bring to a potluck, or serve at home.

Mammy's Savory Noodle Keegal

Recipe courtesy of Nick Zukin of Mi Mero Mole

The Artisan Jewish Deli at Home, co-authored with Michael C. Zusman

Cooking spray

3½ tablespoons kosher salt

18 ounces wide egg noodles (egg pappardelle or "No Yolks" will work)

½ cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed

3 cups small-curd cottage cheese

3 cups sour cream

6 large eggs, beaten

½ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9"x13" glass baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

2. Fill a large pot with about 5 quarts water, add 2 tablespoons of the salt, and bring it to a boil. Add the egg noodles and cook until they are nearly tender but still undercooked, about 5 minutes. Drain the noodles in a colander, shaking out the excess water. Transfer them back to the dry pot. Add ½ cup of the butter and stir to melt. Allow the noodles to cool slightly, about 5 minutes.

3. Stir in the cottage cheese and sour cream. Add the eggs, pepper, and the remaining 1½ tablespoons of salt and stir to thoroughly combine. Pour the noodle mixture into the baking dish and spread it out into an even layer. Dot the top of the keegal with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Bake until the keegal is set in the center and lightly browned on top and around the edges, 45 to 55 minutes. Allow the keegal to cool for about 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

4. Store any leftover keegal, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, add a drizzle of milk or a few dots of butter to the top of the keegal and bake it at 350 degrees, covered, until heated through. (The cooking time will depend on the quantity being reheated.)

Chris Onstad's notes on the procedure:

We ended up grinding the white pepper from whole white peppercorns, and used a tiny bit more than recommended in the recipe—perhaps a "heaping" ½ teaspoon, rather than the ½ teaspoon called for. White pepper can be pointedly spicy on its own, but this small amount, melted into the custard, mellows nicely, and is critical as the only seasoning besides salt in this dish. Upon reflection, all in attendance seemed to think a little finely minced onion wouldn't be a bad thing to mix into the custard—keegal is a blank canvas of a dish, perfect for customization.

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Jason French, Ned Ludd

Vegetable: Radicchio Salad with Hazelnut Parsley Vinaigrette and Apple Cider Syrup

Ned Ludd's Jason French doesn't currently have a cookbook out, but—my holiday table conceit incomplete—I called upon him for a vegetable side dish anyway.

French, whose stove-less wood-fired restaurant encapsulates pretty much every aspect of the Pacific Northwest identity (except, perhaps, the fury and helplessness of trying to use I-5 at any hour other than 3 am), doesn't plan his menus in terms of seasons. I think the schedule is more hourly—which means the watermelon radishes he's getting on any given day, from any single farmer, aren't going to be around when you read this. Or they won't be in their prime window.

There is always, however, radicchio. A Portland restaurant without a competitive radicchio salad stands out like a dog in a Jacobean ruff, and French's recipe is filled with unconventional methods that will keep your home version from, frankly, tasting like a lot of bitter leaves with a bad dressing that Jason French didn't make. An apple cider syrup and a parsley puree with toasted hazelnuts are the two dressings this salad gets, in fact—perhaps that's why his salads stand out. When was the last time you double-dressed a salad? Meats often get more than one sauce, so why not vegetables?

Because he was busy using the vegetables of the moment and not holding any radicchio, we didn't actually cook this recipe together, but I did get to watch him type it from memory. He was dressed in a chef coat, because it was Halloween and he hates that kind of thing. He was also on hold with the garage that was working on his brakes, and directing a contractor around a new buildout behind his current kitchen. That's all the story I've got, on this one. Try the salad. It's fantastic..

Radicchio Salad with Parsley, Hazelnuts, Apples and Cider Syrup

Recipe courtesy of Jason French of Ned Ludd

2 heads radicchio, softball size

¾ cup parsley puree (recipe to follow)

about ½ cup lemon juice

1 each thinly sliced eating apple (Jonagold, Ambrosia)

¼ cup cider syrup (recipe to follow)

Salt to season

Black pepper and sea salt to finish

1. Halve and remove the stem of the radicchio with a small paring knife. Cut into chunks and separate the leaves.

2. Pour the parsley puree in a large mixing bowl, add lemon juice to taste.

3. Add the radicchio and apples and toss to coat. Season with salt and toss again.

4. Divide among four plates and drizzle with cider syrup. Finish with sea salt and pepper.

Parsley Puree

2 bunches parsley, stemmed

¾ cup olive oil, choose buttery over grassy

½ cup toasted and peeled hazelnuts

Salt to taste

1. Place the parsley and oil in a blender and blend with a few ice cubes until smooth and bright green. The ice keeps the puree cold so the chlorophyll doesn't oxidize and also adds some liquid to help the blender blade along.

2. Add the hazelnuts and pulse until they are broken down but still chunky. Reserve and keep chilled.

Cider Syrup

1 cup apple cider

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

¾ cup sugar

1 cinnamon stick

½ vanilla bean split lengthwise

1. Add the cider, cider vinegar, sugar, and cinnamon to a pot. Bring to a boil and reduce until the liquid has a syrup consistency. Keep at room temp until ready for use.

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Rick Gencarelli, Lardo, Grassa

Main Dish: "Quick Porchetta"

Rick Gencarelli also doesn't have a cookbook at the moment, but when you consider that a year and a half ago he was still running Lardo as a cart on SE Belmont, it seems like just a matter of time. He helms two popular brick-and-mortar Lardo outposts now, as well as the newly opened fast-casual pasta restaurant Grassa, and is opening a central commissary kitchen in Chinatown's former Ping space to serve them all. If anyone in Portland is blowing up right now—and has absolutely no time to take a morning off to help me make a pork roast (on his own dime, no less)—it's Gencarelli. That didn't stop him from instantly agreeing to the task and welcoming me into the bustling warren of his Westside kitchen. In fact, he apologized that he couldn't meet until 10 that Saturday morning—he had to cheer his kids at soccer.

The vibe of the Lardo/Grassa kitchen is a warm and friendly one, though pointedly busy and efficient. He let me suit up, scrub in, and get busy grinding the herbs and spices for our pork coppa "quick porchetta" in a granite mortar.

While I ground, he took a four-pound coppa roast—the shoulder/neck of a pig—and butterflied it open like a book, a rectangle about one inch thick. Coppa is far more marbled than pork loin, which results in a far more tender, juicy, and flavorful roast—and it's not at all expensive (Gencarelli gets his for $2 a pound, but when I say this guy has meat connections, remember that I'm talking about the Pork King of New Portland). You'll have to order it—he recommends Tails & Trotters—but this butcher's cut is preferable by an order of magnitude.

The spice rub, which consisted of eyeballed amounts of black peppercorn, fresh rosemary, fresh sage, salt, whole clove garlic, and fennel pollen, should yield several tablespoons—enough to rub into the entire exposed inner surface of the roast. The rubbing complete, he then rolled it back up, tied loops of twine around it at one-inch intervals, and salted the outside liberally before searing it hard on both sides on his lightly oiled flattop (a cast iron pan would do the same work, just get it smoking hot). Gencarelli then popped it into a 375-degree oven for an hour, until the internal temperature was 140 degrees, and let it rest on the counter for 15 minutes before slicing it into half-inch rounds.

The finished coppa had the juiciness and texture of rare lamb or prime-grade prime rib, and the actual pork flavor that loins almost uniformly lack. The pinwheel of spices within the dark-crusted, glistening roll scored quite high on the Tableside Impressiveness Index, and on the whole it looked like the result of an all-day roasting project. A high-payoff kitchen hack, indeed. The pasta puttanesca of the meat world.

Because it was pork, Gencarelli drizzled it with a little cherry syrup he had kicking around, but the roast's own collected juices would be moist enough.This was all fairly casual and intuitive, but the recipe can be fairly gleaned from the description here:

Quick Porchetta

Courtesy of Rick Gencarelli of Grassa and Lardo

The Roast

One approximately 4-pound pork coppa (neck/shoulder roast), may need to be special ordered, try Tails & Trotters, Chop, Laurelhurst Market, or Gartner's

Butcher's twine

The Rub

1-2 garlic cloves

Approximately one tablespoon of each:

Black peppercorn

Fresh rosemary

Fresh sage leaf

Salt

Fennel pollen

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Preheat a dry cast-iron pan over medium-high heat.

2. Using a mortar and pestle, grind the rub ingredients together into a paste.

3. Butterfly the coppa open like a book, about 1" thick. Flatten with palm or whatever's handy to a uniform thickness. You want an even sheet, like a thick, rectangular placemat.

4. Rub the insides of the roast liberally with the spice mixture.

5. Roll the coppa back up, then tie at 1" intervals, starting in the middle.

6. In the cast-iron pan, sear the roast hard on all sides, until it looks nearly cooked.

7. Transfer the roast to a roasting pan and place in the oven. Cook for one hour, or until the minimum reading of a probe thermometer registers 140 degrees.

8. Let rest for 10-15 minutes, then slice into ½" medallions and serve with the sauce of your choice. Fruity and acidic sauces go well with pork.

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