Nothing tricky about this pork and grilled cheese sandwich; just simple and incredibly delicious Italian ingredients. Porchetta and smoked scamorza on golden crusty ciabatta bread, stuffed with caramelized Vidalia onions.
And as the perfect chaser to each and every bite, pickled pepperoncini.
So let’s be frank with each other. This isn’t just any old cast iron grilled cheese sammie.
This is an Italian porchetta sandwich. Filled with loads of fatty porkitude, sweet caramelized onions and dripping with the delicate smoky flavor of a melty, gooey handcrafted cheese.
Let that sink in for a moment.
And to top it all off, spicy hot pickled pepperoncini, an easy no-brainer upgrade for todays sandwich. The acidity and heat of those addictive little peppers works perfectly with all that porky goodness. Scamorza, often found pan-seared in antipasti is sometimes drizzled with red wine vinegar so all the players in this grilled sandwich really get along.
Meet My Mistress, Porchetta
I have more feelings about porchetta than you might consider normal. I know it. My histrionics pretty much extend to many things made in Italy, but it’s the Italian seasoned and cured porky meats where I really go hog wild.
Do you see what I did there?
Porchetta, in all of it’s wonderful variations, is Italian rolled pork roast stuffed with layers of pork fat and an aromatic concoction of white wine, herbs and spices – garlic, toasted fennel seeds, basil, rosemary; you get the picture.
All the delicious greatness that you’d love to see packed and rolled into a succulent pork roast.
Needless to say, each region of Italy, and indeed each Italian butcher, has its own favored traditions for porchetta. Stuffed vs. not stuffed. Wrapped in pork skin vs. unwrapped. Pork belly vs pork loin (or both! Yum!)
Team Smoked Scamorza
Smoked scamorza (yes, a super-fun affiliate link) is a firm-textured, creamy, slightly salty cheese that’s been hung from strings over burning hay to absorb a delicious smokey flavor. Cream colored on the inside and caramel colored on the outside, scamorza is a stretched cow’s milk cheese, similar to mozzarella or provolone, from the southern Italian regions of Apulia and Calabria.
Apparently, there are also varieties of scamorza made with sheep’s milk from Bari, which I have yet to find. This causes us great excitement so, yup, I feel another project coming on. Steady, sir, steady…
Unsmoked or smoked scamorza, because of it’s firm texture, can be pan-seared like Greek saganaki – developing a beautiful outer crust. It also melts nicely into creamy, gooey ribbons and works perfectly on Italian grilled sandwiches or as an antipasti.
If you think of stretched Italian cheeses, known as pasta filata, as being on a spectrum of cheeses, you’d have the cream filled and very delicious burrata on one end, and the firm and slightly chewy scamorza toward the other end.
If you’re as a much of a devotee to Italian cheeses as we are, check out our Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Salad. Yes, please to those little balls of cream filled burrata cheese!