Here’s a new twist, the first LA Chef’s Plate column. What’s that? A column that tells the story of one (or more) of the chef’s plates on his or her menu; that is what’s the inspiration, sourcing, prep, cooking and plating rationale for each dish.
Again this isn’t criticism, for lacking a chef’s palate, eating out a lot and snapping nice pictures doesn’t exactly qualify one to be such a critic. An opinion, yes, sometimes informed, but often not.
So again, these “Plates” column are about gathering and sharing that missing information about the chef and what he or she is thinking, plus how those thoughts ultimately are made manifest in what’s being served.
With this disclaimer, the first plate or dish, a porchetta sandwich, profiled comes from a food truck, specifically Chef Evan Funke’s barely marked white “Porchetta Truck” that just started to roam the LA’ region’s street these past few weeks. This is a “temporary truck” cruising Wednesday through Fridays while Evan and his partner Edward Keebler’s new restaurant Bucato is getting built out in Culver City (with its very slow permit processes holding up everything). New changes of use are always a lot trickier, prolonged, and more expensive than second generation restaurant spaces. Plus a single permit approval for a critical path item can hold up the entire show.
Regardless this white truck (with its few tattooed pig signifiers) serves only this one item, a porchetta sandwich without ($5.00) and with an egg ($7.00). The chef’s inspiration comes from his travels through the Lazio region of Italy specifically Marino just south of this region’s main city Rome. There the tronchetto di porchetta made from the whole pig is one of the unifying dishes served from trailer trucks at “room” temperature in Italy.
Taking an elementary fundamental approach to cooking, Evan wanted to do just one thing well in his truck: this porchetta sandwich that will be served at his forthcoming restaurant. Chef Evan for his version of this dish rather than using the whole hog, due to the size limitation of the truck, uses just the loin and the belly from Heritage pigs locally sourced from Stone Valley Farm where these pigs are humanely raised free range and free of anti-biotics (i.e. no C.A.F.O’s).
With the ribs and other bones removed, the loin and belly are naturally shaped like a comma. Seasoned with six other ingredients, the loin is rolled into the belly and tied with the skin still attached to the outside of the belly. These seven ingredients are then slow cooked for seven hours at two hundred degrees in a flat oven. The skin is then removed, and deep fried. These rolls are sliced to order by the truck’s crew, the future B.O.H. team at Bucato, and placed on a Rockenwagner bun with a square of the deep fried crispy pork skin (chicharrón) added for even more flavor and a little crunch. This sandwich as noted above can be also ordered with an egg (fried in duck fat) from Lily’s Eggs a restaurant supplier of naturally produced eggs from humanely raised chickens. Lily’s Eggs are also available at Santa Monica’s Farmers Market Wednesday and Saturdays.
Unlike the sandwiches that gave inspiration to Evan, Evan serves his truck’s item hot to order. Stalk this truck via twitter @BucatoLA. The quality and execution of the product here could easily be served for $15 in a brick and mortar, so the sandwich with or without the egg represents incredible value, something you don’t always associate with a food truck.