A dish at Chicago’s NoMI is gaining a cult following for its uniqueness and under-the-radar status.
The coppa roast isn’t a regular item on the menu because only two can be butchered from a hog. In-the-know NoMI diners, however, ask for it when they visit or call beforehand.
The roast is among the butcher cuts of animals gaining popularity among independent restaurant chefs.
Edward Sura, the executive chef at NoMI, brought the Food Fanatics team up to speed on what makes the coppa section of the pig so sought after. His recipe follows.
FF: Why is this section so tender and why do you call it a coppa roast?
Sura: The “coppa” is a collection of muscles that is an extension of the loin that runs through the pork shoulder. When butchered, it has a barrel shape and is best suited for charcuterie or slow roasting. Being in the shoulder, it has a lot of fat, and it is a muscle that gets used a lot, resulting in more flavor. The tenderness has a lot to do with the quality, breed, fat content and diet of the animal.
FF: The coppa roast isn’t a household name. Is it difficult to source?
Sura: It can be difficult to find if you do not butcher whole animals yourself. Most butchers would not advertise this cut. There are only two per animal, and since it is on the top side of the shoulder, it gets mixed in easily. It would be very expensive as well. I have actually never bought it as a coppa roast. I only get them from butchering whole animals myself.
FF: You’ve mentioned the secreto cut, which is known for being amazingly tender and flavorful. Discuss.
Sura: The secreto is a different part of the hog. The secreto lives underneath the tenderloin or the hind quarter and is often overlooked. It’s a difficult muscle to find. Most of the time, it just gets ground up into sausage. There is a reason butcher cuts exist.
NoMI Coppa Roast with Cabbage and Braised White Beans
Executive Chef Edward Sura, NoMI, Chicago
1 quart grapeseed oil
1 onion, sliced
1 head garlic, halved widthwise
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1½ bunches thyme, divided use
6 bay leaves, divided use
Kosher salt and freshly grated black pepper, as needed
1 coppa roast
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound white beans, soaked overnight
1 small onion, diced
1½ celery stalks, diced
1 large carrot, diced
½ head garlic, minced
1 small Parmesan rind
2 cups white wine
2 cups chicken stock
Charred cabbage, recipe follows
Pickled jalapeno, recipe follows
1 green apple, cored and sliced
Roasted carrots, recipe follows
Combine grapeseed oil with sliced onion, halved garlic, black peppercorns, paprika, 1 bunch thyme and 5 bay leaves and bring to a boil. Cool and immerse roast. Marinate 2 hours or overnight.
Meanwhile, heat butter in large pot and sweat diced onions, celery, carrot and minced garlic until tender. Add remaining thyme and bay leaf and deglaze with wine. Add rind, stock and beans to the pot. Simmer 2 hours; discard thyme, bay leaf and rind. Season with salt and pepper.
Generously season coppa roast with salt and pepper, place on a rack and roast in a preheated 375 F oven until meat reaches 135 F. Rest 20 minutes before slicing.
Meanwhile, toss together charred cabbage with pickled jalapenos and apple. Season with salt and pepper.
To plate, heat white beans and spoon onto a plate, top with sliced roast, pair with carrots and add slaw over pork. Makes 6 servings with leftover beans and pickled jalapenos.
To make charred cabbage, quarter 1 head of cabbage, discard core and season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil and grill cut-side down to char. Turn and char other side
To pickle jalapenos, bring 1 cup vinegar, ½ cup water, ¼ cup sugar and 1½ teaspoons salt to boil and pour over 1 pound of whole jalapenos. Cool to room temperature or pickle overnight.
To make roasted carrots, toss ½ bunch scrubbed and washed baby carrots with 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil and kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Slack carrots onto baking sheet and roast in preheated 450 F oven for 10 minutes or until tender.