New York City has been swept up in porchetta madness the last few years, as one chef after another has tried to best their rivals with their version of the boneless, well-seasoned, Italian pork roast that originated in Rome and is said to have been eaten there since the days of Emperor Nero. I’ve watched this one-upsmanship with distant envy—and one lovely tasting trip—as the only good porchettas I’ve ever found in Minnesota are the ones you cook yourself. (Try Buon Giorno in Lilydale or Ready Meats in northeast Minneapolis for good uncooked versions.)
But that was then. The day Il Gatto opened, Minnesota entered a new and glorious era: We now have a porchetta to rival New York’s finest—and one that any pork-lover in the state must taste immediately! It’s the work of Matt Kempf, Il Gatto’s new chef and a veteran of local fine-dining kitchens, including À Rebours, Goodfellow’s, and Red. He tells me that Il Gatto’s porchetta is just a simple pork shoulder, coated with sage, garlic, rosemary, and a lot of other herbs, then wrapped with a skin-on pork belly, painstakingly roasted at both high and low heat, and basted until it is served to you as a glistening layer cake of porky perfection.
The exterior, the cracklings, is shatteringly crisp and so good it may as well be . . .