Heavy Table Hot Five: Dec. 8-14

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Each Friday, this list will track five of the best things Heavy Table’s writers, editors, and photographers have recently bitten or sipped. Have a suggestion for the Hot Five? Email editor@heavytable.com.

shepherd-song-banner-ad-horiz-3The Hot Five is a weekly feature created by the Heavy Table and supported by Shepherd Song Farm.

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James Norton / Heavy Table

1-new - one - hot fivePorchetta bagel at Rise Bagels
The pork in this remarkable bagel sandwich is incredibly tender and gently fennel-flavored, the flavored cream cheese brings a wonderful garlic note to the dish, and the tomato and arugula were nice accents without overwhelming the dish as a whole. One of the best sandwiches in town right now.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted from an Instagram post by James Norton]

Amy Rea / Heavy Table

2-new - two - hot fiveIf You Must Brunch Plate at Wise Acre Eatery
Wise Acre Eatery’s If You Must brunch plate is a case study in something simple done with great care and attention. Basically this is scrambled eggs with breakfast potatoes, bacon, and cornbread, but the eggs are slow-scrambled and velvety with just a hint of fresh herbs, the potatoes are crisp on the outside but buttery on the inside, the thick slab of bacon is both crunchy and chewy, and the cornbread somehow both delicate and hearty. A little butter, a little coffee, and your day is set.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Amy Rea]

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

3-new - three hot fiveChurrasco Plate at El Sabor Chuchi
The first thing you need to know about the $12 Churrasco Plate at El Sabor Chuchi is that it isn’t as big as you expect it’ll be. It’s about 50 percent bigger. I ran out of room in my notebook trying to record everything that arrived on it, but the short list includes a steak (pounded flat), a couple of eggs, rice, beans, thick cut fries, avocado slices, plantain fritters, and salad. If this stuff were mediocre, this would still be a pretty good deal, but the avocado was ripe, the beans surprisingly delicate and beautifully seasoned, the thick-cut fries clearly house-made and top-notch. The steak and eggs and the rest? Not bad. The value prospect of this humble plate of food is towering.
[Last Week on the Hot Five: #3 | Submitted from a recent East Lake Checklist by James Norton]

Amy Rea / Heavy Table

4-new four hot fiveLarb from Thai Spicy at the Hmongtown Marketplace
The staff asks if you want your larb spicy, so if you don’t, speak up. But if you do, they’ll respect your wishes. Served on a bed of cool, crunchy cabbage, the spicy larb is packed full of ground beef, onions, and cilantro, along with a powerful punch of heat that’s offset by the generous portion of sticky rice. Definitely a powerful tonic on a cold, blustery day.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Amy Rea]

James Norton / Heavy Table

5-new -fiveSpicy Wings from Cora’s Best Chicken Wings
It’s a massive understatement to say there’s nothing fancy about these fried chicken wings found on St. Paul’s Payne Avenue, but they might be one of the best values in town, considering their serious crunch and nicely balanced sweet heat. At $5 for three wings — plus beverage, plus eggroll, plus fried rice — they’re a steal.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted from a review by James Norton]

The Porchetta Sandwich at Smoqehouse in Faribault, Minn.

James Norton / Heavy Table
James Norton / Heavy Table

Amid the hobby shops and shuttered storefronts that comprise the Faribo West Mall grows a hopeful green shoot: a relatively new barbecue-focused eatery called Smoqehouse, which is serving one of the best sandwiches in the state.

The dish is a porchetta sandwich, an adapted Italian classic that has become a North Country staple. The Smoqehouse version is a marriage between tender, earthy pieces of pork and the substantial herbal kick of a bright, garlic-heavy salsa verde. Bread plays a critical role, too. The Brick Oven Bakery ciabatta that the sandwich arrives on is light and crispy, substantial enough to hold the thing together, but not so doughy or massive that it buries the flavor within.

“While researching butchery, my husband (Andy Kubes) came across an Italian butcher (Vito Bernabei) who specializes in porchetta,” writes co-owner Heidi Kubes. “He became really interested in the process and made it a few times at home for our family. We knew if / when we ever opened something we would want it to be on the menu. The pork belly is topped with our fresh salsa verde to contrast and enhance the richness of the belly.”

James Norton / Heavy Table
James Norton / Heavy Table

Our lunch companion (a farmer, Tiffany Tripp, from Graise) vouched for the place across the board, and we’re sold on it. Beyond the porchetta are dishes including pulled pork, a brisket burger, and Cajun chicken, plus crispy, beautifully hand-cut fries ($3, or $5 for a large order) that could stand up proudly in a trendy North Loop bistro. The fries are cooked in lard and come with fry sauce (a Utah-beloved mix of mayo and ketchup). The result is heaven on a plate.

Smoqehouse has regional ambitions. Its second location opens in Northfield later this month. The quality food on its streamlined menu merits a visit the next time you’re within detour distance of either spot.

Smoqehouse, 200 Western Ave, Suite C5, Faribo West Mall, Faribault, MN; 507.334.1901. Or 212 Division St, S in the historic Archer House, Northfield, MN (opening soon).

James Norton / Heavy Table
James Norton / Heavy Table

On the Discovery of Pork Shoulder Porchetta

Becca Dilley / Minnesota Lunch
Becca Dilley / Minnesota Lunch

Congratulations to Melissa Clark of the New York Times for personally discovering that you can make a simpler variant of Italian porchetta using a pork shoulder. It is exciting to hear that this dish is now enjoyed exclusively in a small section of Brownstone Brooklyn. She may be pleased and mortified in equal proportions to hear that time-traveling Italian immigrants from Minnesota’s Iron Range have stolen her recipe and turned it into a widely-known staple of North Country cuisine since the early part of the 20th Century.

Porchetteria at Terzo Vino Bar in Minneapolis

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

The story is all too familiar: owner of successful restaurant (or coffee shop, bar, food truck…) rushes to expand and diversify, and the new ventures don’t measure up to the original. Thankfully, the opposite is increasingly familiar, at least here in the Twin Cities: restaurateur branches out and the accolades and loyal patrons keep rolling in. Such local wizards include Isaac Becker (Burch, 112 Eatery, Bar La Grassa), Alex Roberts (Alma, Brasa), Russell and Desta Klein (Meritage, Brasserie Zentral), and Sameh Wadi (Saffron, World Street Kitchen restaurant and food truck). With their collection of excellent Italian establishments on the corner of W. 50th Street and Penn in Southwest Minneapolis, Molly Broder and her three sons also belong on this list. Their new porchetteria is further evidence of the family’s golden touch.

From a window cutout of Broder’s wonderful wine bar, Terzo, the family is slinging rich, succulent slow-roasted pork (that is, porchetta) sandwiches from 11am to 5pm daily. If you’re into tailgating, there are six large plastic chairs (but only one large umbrella) for chowing down right there in the parking lot. You can also, like us, lunch on the patio of Broders’ Pasta Bar, which offers plentiful shade, tables, and comfy chairs. It’s a great space for an impromptu picnic.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

The porchetta sandwiches showcase high-quality, sustainable Fresh Air Pork from Grass Run Farms in Iowa, roasted to perfection and chock-full of wonderful porky flavor. All four options (three pork and one vegetarian) are served on chewy, grilled ciabatta that manages to be sturdy but not tough. Our favorite sandwich, The Rapini, includes garlic paisley aioli and stalks and leaves from the eponymous vegetable ($9). The refreshing rapini adds pleasant tang and crunch that cuts the richness of the pork and aioli.

A combination of porchetta, radicchio and currant slaw, and Calabrian pepper aioli, The Calabrian ($9) is well balanced (with spice from the peppers playing off sweet from the currants) and super flavorful. The tasty truffle mushroom and porchetta ($10) delivers an awesome umami uppercut. But lacking rapini, slaw, or some other fresh element (maybe arugula?), the fungi and pork option teeters on the edge of over-indulgence. Speaking of which, lest we forget: house-made potato chips ($2) are exquisitely fried and salted. They’re absolutely worth the added cost.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Porchetteria at Terzo Vino Bar
Takeaway Sandwiches in Southwest Minneapolis
2221 W 50th St
Minneapolis, MN 55419
612.925.0330

HOURS:
Daily 11am-5pm
CHEF / OWNER: Thomas Broder / Molly Broder
BAR: No
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes / No
ENTREE PRICE: $9-10

 

June 1 Recipe Roundup

Apparently, a three-day weekend plus ripe rhubarb equals a recipe avalanche. Cantonese chicken stir fry, chewy cookies with oatmeal and toffee bits, mushroom leek ragu, Italian- (not Range-) inspired porchetta, hoisin and sugar snap peas tofu, Bluegrass Iced Tea, oregano green beans, sunshine cake, rhubarb chutney, sour cream cornmeal pancakes with blueberry rhubarb compote, pork chops with rhubarb honey sauce, real Jewish rye bread, malted (or sweet-n-salty or chewy oat) chocolate chip cookies, and blueberry scones.

February 9 Morning Roundup

Dara adores the porchetta at Il Gatto, a Hamm’s-themed blast from the past, Staccato closes, and the world’s best popcorn (made here in Minnesota).