Arguably, one of the best traditions of the Iron Range is its porketta. The original Italian porchetta is a roast made from the meat, skin, and fat of a whole, deboned pig, all of which are rolled together with a spice mixture redolent of fennel, garlic and other seasonings. The Iron Range riff, phonetically spelled “porketta,” is a smaller, leaner variant. There are a number of purveyors of porketta on the Range, each with their own twist, and each worth a stop. Sometimes the source seems rather mundane, but this is why we don’t judge books by their covers.
The employee-owned Jubilee Foods in Chisholm is one such place. It looks like your average chain grocery store, but back in the meat department, employees are using a hundred-year-old recipe, brought to the Range by Italian immigrants, to season their pork roasts and turn out a tasty porketta ($5.50 / pound).
There are numerous variations on porketta involving a wide variety of spices, although fennel is usually a key ingredient. Some recipes use basil and oregano, others rely on sage and rosemary. Jubilee Foods’ version has a good dose of fennel, but in place of the other traditional herbs, it has dill and a touch of sugar (along with salt, pepper, and garlic). The result is a porketta that’s not quite as spicy as others, but the dill and sugar seem to act in a supporting role to the fennel, allowing it to shine.
If you happen to be heading to the Range, bring a cooler and stock up. Buy more than you need for one meal — the leftovers make great sandwiches and hash.
Chisholm Jubilee Foods, 130 1st St SW, Chisholm, MN 55719; 218.254.4961