Monday, August 16, 2010
Yesterday was Ferragosto in Italy. For those of you who don’t know, this is the most important holiday of the year. Although August in Italy is pretty much closed for vacation, Ferragosto brings the entire country to a stand still. What does the holiday celebrate? Well, it’s either the Assumption or the Ascension of the Virgin. I realize I could look this up on line, but I swear, every year no one can remember which it is. Ascend? Or Assume? And what does either mean anyway? As you can imagine, being the good little Italian wife that I am, I focus on the meal, and leave the religious underpinnings to the experts.
Ferragosto is also the time of year when my sister and her family come to visit. While my sister Robin is pretty much a non-meat eater, my brother-in-law Phil can manage to work the word ‘pork’ into almost any conversation. Actually, any great meat will do. It used to be a tradition that he and Domenico would make the 2 hour drive from our house in Todi up to Tuscany to visit the master butcher Dario Cecchini for bistecche. But lately I’ve found an amazing butcher closer to home.
Located about 5 minutes off the E45, at the Ripabianca exit, (that’s near Deruta, you ceramic fans), Fattoria Luchetti is more of a farm, than a butcher. Not only do they raise Chianina cows, their Cinta Senese pigs are legendary. While the place is a serious organic working farm, the butcher shop is as vast and fancy as any in Rome or Florence. A huge long case makes decisions of what to buy very difficult. Huge, gorgeous bistecche fiorentine are cut to order. Pork roast, roast beef, ribs, sausages, lamb chops...they even make prepared lamb kebabs.
But come Ferragosto there is only really one choice: Arrosto Porchettato. A long beautiful pork filet is lovingly wrapped in pork belly, spices and a thick layer of pork rind. All is tied tightly, ready to be slipped into the wood burning oven. In other words, a porchetta, but not the whole pig.
I’ve learned over the years to cook the roast in the morning, and let it cool down. This way the fats firm up, and I can slice it into perfect, beautiful portions. Then, after a generous spooning of pan juices, a quick trip back into the oven to it up for dinner.
If you are anywhere near Luchetti, I urge you to go. The meat is excellent, and ridiculously inexpensive. Most cuts are 10 euros and under a kilo, and the most expensive (the steaks for instance) are only 13. I always stock up, freeze my bounty, and bring it back to Rome. You should too.
Tel: 075 870 7143
NOTE: Hours are odd:
Thurs, Friday, Saturday: 8-1:30, and 3:30-7:30