Porchetta, when it’s done right, is the Sistine Chapel of the pig. It’s a Roman canvas, labored over for hours in tight quarters, primed with brine and seasonings, skin crackling after some light aging. Like the Apostolic Palace, there should be tours and respectful whispers while one gazes into sun-stroked layers of the great porchetta.
It should cost a few dollars because it’s (typically) a deboned pig, tender bits and savory fats, stuffed with rosemary, garlic and herbs, and roasted or fire-bathed for hours until you can knock on the skin like a wooden door. It takes time, sweat and hard work.
At Sachet, chef Michael Lawson added his take on the sandwich to the restaurant's new lunch menu, and it's Renaissance good.
Lawson’s porchetta sandwich takes nearly two days to come together. Pork belly and collar dive into brine with fennel seed and coriander, get a coat of seasoning out of the brine and everything’s rolled tightly into a log. It chills overnight to lock in the flavor, and then it’s scored on the fatty side and roasted for three hours. Once the porchetta cools, it's sliced into a thin pane.
Sachet’s design is neat and clean — crisp white dishes and tidy everything — but the flavors of the porchetta are more like the fire around a food cart. It’ll remind you of Roman street food even if you haven’t been to Rome.
There’s something coded into porchetta's flavor that’ll instantly conjure a memory, that you may or may not have had, of walking the streets of Italy. Sachet’s sandwich comes with charred rapini, smoked provolone and a Calabrian chili aioli that’s as brass-bright as it is spicy.
“It’s kind of following in the traditional way ... but not really,” Lawson says about the pork's prep. Sachet's, unlike most restaurants', isn’t a thick slab of pork — it’s crisped thin like stained glass. But how?
“That’s actually our pizza oven,” Lawson says. The sliced pork slides onto a skillet that’s been hanging out in a 700-degree pizza oven. The pork sears, one minute per side, until it’s near bacon.
But for Lawson, “the big component for me is the bread,” he says.
Sachet's ciabatta is bubbly and blistered on the edges. The pastry chef makes it every day in house, creating a pillowy mixture of kamut grain that blackens in pockets in the oven like pizza crust. It makes crackle sounds when you press it down with both hands.
It’s a face-melter of a sandwich. It uppercuts with big flavor despite its scrappy size. You won’t need more than it is. It has enough richness and glorious fats to satisfy a day’s worth of eating. Hey, that’s why Earth invented vegetable side dishes. This is a sandwich not to blaze through during a work lunch of budget talk; it’s one to sit and enjoy, as the Romans do.
Sachet, 4270 Oak Lawn Ave. (Oak Lawn/Highland Park)
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