The Food Chain

Josef Centeno Dreams About the Porchetta at Ned Ludd in Portland

It's a porchetta di testa, or
It’s a porchetta di testa, or “roll of head,” served at room temp. Photo: Jason French

Each week on the Food Chain, we ask a chef to describe a dish he or she recently enjoyed. The chef who prepared the dish responds and then picks his or her own memorable meal. On and on it goes. Last week, chef David Gould of Roman’s in Brooklyn called the poblano soup at Lazy Ox Canteen in L.A. “revelatory.” Now we turn to Lazy Ox chef Josef Centeno to find out what he’s loved eating recently. What’s your pick, Joe?

Who: Josef Centeno, chef at Lazy Ox Canteen, Los Angeles
What: Porchetta, as part of a charcuterie plate
Where: Ned Ludd, Portland, Oregon

“The dish I had was a porchetta that was part of a charcuterie plate at Ned Ludd in Portland. Everything was perfect about it: the thickness, the temperature, the fat marbling, and the rich porky flavor.”

Ned Ludd chef Jason French responds:

“We do a porchetta di testa — or a roll of head. We actually learned it from Chris Cosentino at Incanto in San Francisco, and our friend Ben Dyer who works at Laurelhurst Market in Portland showed us more how to do it. It’s a four-day process. We bone out a whole pig’s head and split it down the middle, then trim up the glands, and tuck the ears and tongue back inside. We marinate it for three days with a simple marinade of Calabrian chilies, oregano, rosemary, salt, and garlic. It takes an incredible amount of salt, we’ve learned, after doing this for about a year or so. We tie it into a roast and cook it in the oven for four hours, and then transfer it to a smaller oven, like a warming box, and leave it at 180 degrees for about ten hours overnight. Then we press it while it cools, like you would with a lot of traditional charcuterie, with a 30-pound weight. Then it’s ready to go and we slice it up.”

Josef Centeno Dreams About the Porchetta at Ned Ludd in Portland