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Porchetta For A Pagan Dinner

The last Wednesday of every month is PDC (Pagan Dinner Club). I am game for anything that involves food, wine and conversation around a table. Plus, I have always felt a little pagan. Last November, I opened my issue of Bon Appetit and saw the sexiest piece of meat I have ever seen— Porchetta (take a look at the recipe and picture here).  For the past six months, that lovely piece of pork loin wrapped in pork belly would start calling my name but I never pulled the trigger. Until last Wednesday. It was my turn to host dinner and I knew exactly what to make, the porchetta of my dreams.  I followed the recipe to the letter except I used a full loin and pork belly and adjusted the spices and garlic accordingly. It was an extraordinary piece of meat— tender, flavorful and sexy.

What else does one serve with a massive amount of pork wrapped in luscious pork belly? Why, fingerling potatoes and sweet onions roasted in duck fat with pancetta and a Caesar salad (I forgot the anchovies) with croutons sautéed in olive oil and the drippings from the porchetta. Those croutons were a stroke of genius, one I intend to repeat over and over. I tossed the potatoes in duck fat and roasted them at 400 degrees for about 30 - 35 minutes on parchment paper. I laid pancetta on top about 10 minutes before they were done and crumbled it after I pulled them out of the oven. Duck fat is magic, the potatoes had the most delectable crust— amazing.

We drank a wine from the Piedmont, Cascina del Pozzo Lucrezia Barbera d'Alba. It was perfect with the pork— dry and elegant with subtle fruit notes. It was a little richer in body than other Barberas I have tasted and I really enjoyed it.

There are a few meals I have put together that stand out and this is definitely one of them. Not only was it a good meal, it was an even better evening filled with people I have come to adore. Jim Henson said, 'there's not a word yet, for old friends who've just met'. Ted and I are still new-comers to Bayfield, we have only been here for five years. As I looked around the table, I had a strong feeling that my fellow pagan dinner companions are indeed old friends we have just met.  I have been blessed many times over in my life with beautiful memories of children, family and friends around my table— it is no small thing to share a meal with those you love. I believe it creates a sacred space in our lives which is truly nourishing.