Recipe: Porchetta Sandwich

Ooohhh la la.... get in my belly!

If you've read my entry about our trip to Florence (found here Travel: Florence, Italy), you'll understand why I HAD to make this sandwich. We visited Florence last April 2019 (one of our destinations in our Italy trip) and was instantly spell-bound by this sandwich which I devoured slowly with every bit of my being. My tastebuds in a frenzy, my mind going blank, my tear ducts restraining themselves, and my emotions all over the place. So after a full year of craving this, I was determined to get as close to it as possible. (Disclaimer: Not close. Sorta close? But still yuuuuummmy.)

Osteria All'antico Vinaio. Check out their website at here. The Roman gods have blessed us so. And I was only today years old that I learned they had other branches in Milan, New York, and Los Angeles!!! (MY GAAAWWWSSHH. I'm always in California -well, really Sacramento. But still! We could've have this with just a 6-hour drive away! Or have my Tita or cousin bring some over! I'm so emotionally conflicted right now. Love you, Tita Inday and KitKat. I hope you try this and acknowledge it's awesomeness.) This epic and sorcery-based sandwich has had numerous reviews of being one of, if not "the best", sandwiches ever. I got the L'Inferno which was a beautiful marriage of porchetta, spicy Italian cream, grilled vegetables, and arugula all carefully held together by slices of freshly made Schiacciata (a flat oven-baked Tuscan bread, it literally means "squashed"). I later on learned that this bread was actually made fresh daily at the bakery in front of the sandwich shop.
So because it's 2020 and we find ourselves in our current predicament (being in quarantine and not having the local Italian delis have these conveniently as before), I had to think. AND I THOUGHT HARD. This pandemic has forced me to channel my inner Italian, wherever it was! So, I made my own Porchetta and you can view the recipe here. I've also added some photos below so you can droooool.ðŸĪŠ 
There were a few other things I had to compromise and make-do with: (1) I'm guessing the spicy cream was homemade and I couldn't have it spicy because Carlo's allergic to spice so I made a truffle cream instead; (2) the Italian grocery store only had ciabatta now as they made fewer of their bread varieties because of the pandemic, otherwise they'd have the schiacciata, and (3) I wasn't sure if they grilled the vegetables on a coal or hot grill or roasted them on an open fire so I just opted to use a pan. I live in a condo anyways. No open grills allowed, even on our balcony.

This is the Italian cream cheese that I used to make the truffle cream instead, Bel Paese. They come in cylinders of 6 disks each. 

Porchetta Sandwich
I used a whole ciabatta bread that I sliced into 4 portions. We had the first 2 sandwiches on day 1 and had the other 2 for lunch the following day. Mind you. It took a lot for us not eat everything in one day. Like we had to take a moment to remind ourselves we were already full. 

You will need a griddle, a skillet, a baking tray, foil, some small bowls, a cream cheese spreader or a butter knife, a chopping board, and a bread knife. 

2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium eggplant, sliced
1 red bell pepper, quartered
salt and pepper

2 small disks of Bel Paese Crema (Italian cream cheese, made of cow's milk. It's light and creamy.)
2 tsp truffle oil

5-6 sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, sliced (I was able to buy marinated ones already. If you don't have it, it's okay.)

Ciabatta bread, sliced into portions and sliced in half (open-faced)
olive oil for drizzling

arugula, washed and strained (use a salad spinner to dry them)
4-5 slices of freshly made Porchetta (you can find my recipe here again)
balsamic glaze for drizzling

1. Preheat the oven to 380℉. Line a baking sheet with foil. 
2. Heat the olive oil on a skillet on medium to high heat and sear the skin side first of the red bell peppers. Transfer the seared peppers to the baking tray and roast in the oven for 20 mins. Slice when done and set aside. On the same pan, sear the eggplant slices and brown on all sides. Set aside. 
3. Whisk together the cream cheese and truffle oil until well incorporated. Set aside. 
4. Mise-en-place! Create your assembly line - vegetables, arugula, truffle cream, balsamic glaze, and porchetta slices. 
5. Heat the griddle to medium heat. Drizzle some olive oil in the insides of the bread. Toast the bread on the griddle until nice and golden brown. I tried to flatten it as much, since ciabattas are waaaay chewier than schiacciatas. We have a griddle/panini press so any direction works. Transfer the toasted bread on a chopping board to assemble your sandwich (OF EPIC AAAWWEESSSOOMMMENESSS! Calm down, Luzee.
6. Spread some of the truffle cream on the base. Layer some sliced sun-dried tomatoes, eggplant, and roasted peppers. Drizzle with balsamic glaze. Add some of the yummy-fatty-crispy porchetta and top with the arugula. Cap it off with the top of the ciabatta bread, spread some truffle cream on this too so the arugula won't move when you bite into it.
7. ENJOY!!!!! And truly savour the moment! Let a tear drop too while you're at it! (PSA: Ugly crying is acceptable.)
*Best to make this sandwich when you want to eat it. Don't make it in advance. The good part is that if you have all your elements all ready and available, all you really need to do is heat up the vegetables and porchetta, toast the bread, and assemble!

**If you don't have the Bel Paese cream cheese, that's totally fine. Just keep in mind that this cheese is very mild and milky in flavour. I find that regular cream cheese, even the light or the whipped version, still has a good salty kick to it. You can probably use Brie or Camembert cheese, Aria brand or Puck brand cream cheese. The camembert cheese will have a slight deeper and earthy taste.

***These sandwich elements make a very good pizza too. And we tried it! SOOOOO yummmmy. Just an idea! I'll make sure to post that on a separate entry. 

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