28 February, 2020
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Herbs and grease

by Renata Covi

Is it better to start from the sandwich with the porchetta or from the sandwich with the Cicotto?
Hamletic doubt. I think it’s better to start with the delicate and soft taste of pork, and tomorrow move on to the more intense and rich flavor of Cicotto, enjoying the succulent pleasure of sandwiches without thinking about cholesterol.


A porchetta is nothing but roasted pork. But not all pork is the same, and so does porchetta. The one produced by three families in Grutti, on the plateau, is divine. Benedetti, Biondini and Natalizi have got roast in their DNA and follow the tradition elaborated by their ancestors. In an increasingly industrialized world, where every possible item can be bought on Amazon, Grutti’s porchetta is handmade prepared, cut and stuffed and each sandwich is sold through the company’s van around the region.
I visited Benedetti’s laboratory: I was expecting a horrid environment with blood splatted everywhere. Instead I found myself in front of a clean room like an operating room. White walls, white floor, clean operating tables, processing waste slipped into special buckets. No unpleasant odor, there was only the scent of aromatic herbs and pepper. The herbs that flavor the pork are collected in the area and chopped by hand, so they don’t lost even one molecule of aroma. It is a long job that a person does for two days a week. A huge amount of herbs, collected  to flavor the 20-25 porchette that will need to fill about 2500 sandwiches a week. The only spice that doesn’t grow in the area is pepper, which comes from India. All the pigs are born, grow up, are kneaded and sold by 40 kilometers from the starting point.
If we multiply the production by three – Benedetti, Biondini and Natalizi – it seems that the Umbrians of the plateau and the valley have withdrawal symptoms if they do not eat at least one pork sandwich a week.


Porchetta, photo by Facebook

Feed the hungry

Until the Second World War, the pig was present in every house for private use – sausages, meat, fat and more – and the pork was prepared only for parties, festivals and weddings. Then after the war, hunger began to bite and the money was few, then the butchers of Grutti let people collect the fat dripped under the spit during the long cooking of the pork. All for free. The fat was used to season soups, to cook and also to soak in bread.
Meanwhile, the economic boom was coming, during which the truck replaced the donkey cart and the porchetta became a regular presence in all weekly markets.

The Slow Food Presidium

Grutti also boasts a Slow Food Presidium of very ancient origins and now a real delicacy called Cicotto, a deformation of a Latin word that indicated the pork leg. Starting from the principle that all the pork is edible, butchers also used wasted parts. Ears, trunks, tongue, shin and tripe, after being thoroughly cleaned and washed, are placed in the container under the spit and bake in the oven together with the roast pig. The spit rotates slowly for 12 hours, letting the fat, gifted sixty years ago come down and ennoble even the scraps, creating a stew rich in aromas and perfumes that go to impregnate the round sandwich.
The Grutticiani are so sure of the goodness of their product that every year they bring the porchetta and cicotto to the streets, and they celebrate for three days. In Porchettiamo there are also the producers of porchetta from other regions and there are the stands of many typical street food.


Porchettiamo tenth edition


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Renata Covi

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