Cariani, a Porchetta exclusive

This article is the result of the collaboration between SapereFood and Umbra Institute, an Italian branch of some US colleges and universities based in Perugia. After an in-depth analysis of the agri-food sector and journalistic writing techniques, the Umbra Institute students visited some important companies in the region, telling their experience in the field and contributing to spreading the food quality of Umbria abroad.

by Hannah Norwood

Pulling into the gravel driveway of Cariani Porchetta di Bevagna the building seemed humble enough for the largest porchetta producer in Central Italy. Greeted at the door with a warm smile from owner Giuliano Cariani that contrasted the gust of cold air felt from the inside of the building. The faint metallic smell of blood made it clear, this was a meat locker. As Giuliano guided us through the various chambers winding back through the sheet plastic curtains where the ovens were located, he told us his story.

His father was a meat vendor that sold pork to various street food trucks. In 1983 Guiliano further developed the relationships that his father had forged with the small producers and learned their traditional porchetta cooking techniques. He describes how they were eager to pass on their centuries of knowledge and family recipes to the next generation. Giuliano found a new niche in the market. He combined the best parts of each artisanal producer’s recipe to produce the finest porchetta in Central Italy on a large scale operation, which he then resold to the eager small food truck vendors because cutting of this part of their operation would ultimately save them time and money.

The height of the tour was in butcher’s own office. The highly skilled butcher carefully disassembled the animal on the expansive cold metal table, cutting out each and every rib with the precise glide of the knife. The prepared pork belly was covered in a secret spice mixture including salt, pepper, wild fennel, and garlic. It was then stuffed with cuts of liver and wrapped around a long hollow stainless steel rod, sutured together by hand with industrial strength twine. The last step of the locally sourced Lake Trasimeno Pig’s journey would be to go into the large oven to cook slowly on a medium heat for just over eight hours, long enough to get the outer layer of skin crispy and brown, letting some the fat drip off.

People can order this porchetta to be shipped throughout Italy in vacuum packed containers, without preservatives that can be kept up to 14days in fridge at 10 degrees Celsius. The demand for Giuliano’s product is high. Porchetta represents more than just a casual street food within this region, it is a symbol for community and celebration, as the choice food served at weddings. Since a lot of the younger generations have lost their own traditional family recipes over time, they now rely on the Cariani shop to produce this cultural food product for their community functions and festivities.

The visit culminated in a much anticipated taste testing. As the white sheet was slowly lifted from the table the beautiful finished product was uncovered, and the delicious scent wafted into the air. The butcher thinly sliced the meat off onto a silver platter, and it was served up on small rolls with plenty of red wine to go around. The meat was juicy and salty, with the delicate fat melting away with each mouthful. As one of the first exclusive visitors to the facility the experience was filled with personal interaction and hospitality. When asked if he ever gets tired of eating porchetta, Giuliano replied that he is like a baker, in that a baker never tires of eating sweets! Cariani Porchetta di Bevagna is most definitely a genuine hidden gem of Umbria.

The best porchetta of central Italy born from the combination of the best parts of each artisanal producer’s recipe
This exclusive porchetta (pulled-pork) should be cut rigorously with a knife. Cariani, artisan production of the Umbrian porchetta of Bevagna

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