Region: Italy, Lazio
Difficulty: Easy but special equipment needed
"Greased bread"-that's the literal meaning of panuntella. But this exceedingly simple preparation from the region of Lazio, where Rome is the capital, produces not grease, but brilliantly flavored grilled pork chops on grilled bread. The pork chops are placed on a rack over the bread which catches the drippings while the pork slowly grills.
The key to success, though, involves two things: first, the pork chops must have a nice ring of fat around them, and second, you will want to avoid the bread becoming dried out and brittle before the meat cooks. I explain how in the directions. Soft, chewy rolls, sliced open, or a soft, dense white bread with the crust removed works best.
[photo: Clifford A. Wright]
Yield: Makes 6 servings
Preparation Time: 1 hour
6 thick pork chops with some fat on them (about 2 1/2 to 3 pounds)
1/4 cup melted lard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 thick, chewy soft rolls, sliced open; or six 1-inch-thick slices good-quality bread, crusts removed, and a little larger than the pork chops
1. Prepare a charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill for 15 minutes on high. If you are using a charcoal grill, place an aluminum pan in the center and build up the hot coals on both sides. Place the bread in the aluminum pan under the pork chops. If you are using a gas grill, set an aluminum drip pan on the grilling grate and place a rack inside the pan. Set another grilling grate 2 to 3 inches above the rack for the pork chops. Grill with the cover down.
2. Brush the chops with some melted lard and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Grill, turning once and brushing with melted lard, for 10 minutes before pacing the bread in the aluminum pan under the pork chops. Arrange the pieces of bread so they are directly under the chops and can collect the drippings. Grill, turning and basting occasionally, until golden brown and the ring of fat is slightly crisp, about another 30 minutes. If the bread seems to be drying out before enough drippings fall on them, brush lightly with melted lard. Remove the bread to a platter and place the chops on top. Sprinkle with more pepper and serve.