On Saturday night in Cambridge, on a young friend’s recommendation, we dined at The Russell House Tavern, near Harvard Square, where chef Michael Scelfo and his mischievous band of cooks put out excellent high-end tavern fare. I was delighted when my 13-year-old son perused the menu and immediately asked, “Can we get the charcuterie board?” This question has only one correct response. I especially appreciated Scelfo’s pork rillettes, which were topped with a creamy layer of duck fat. Scelfo has a menu that would seem to be designed exactly for me, with items such as “Pig’s Head Cake” and “Crispy Pork Belly Sandwich,” but also deviled eggs and superb fried oysters. But it was the fact that he, like so many other chefs, offered charcuterie. Indeed the charcuterie or salumi board is now ubiquitous in American Read On »

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Still slammed after weeks away. Part of todays work is going over 2nd pass proofs of Salumi, now scheduled for August 27th publication. First pass illustrations all out of place. Also need to check all salt concentrations. Very important! The above was taken sampling American and smuggled Italian salumi after a trip there. —MR Originally posted June 24, 2010 On our trip to Italy, Brian Polcyn and I saw a lot of new cuts we weren’t familiar with, so as soon as we returned, we made plans to break down a couple of pigs Italian style, bringing in chef Jay Denham, who was recently back from five months staging in Italy.  We wanted to see how he broke a half animal into primals and we also wanted to learn the culatello cut.  Jay had spent Read On »

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On a recent trip to Charleston, SC, to promote Twenty, my first stop, thanks to a tweet from Ideas In Food was to the kitchen of Cypress, where chef Craig Deihl gave me a truly impressive tasting of his dry cured meats and sausages. Damn they were good—highly recommend you wonderful folks in Charleston stop in for a taste. One of the items he sliced for us he called “knuckle.” Now one of the hardest parts of understanding salumi is getting a handle on terminology. When I inquired further he used the Italian term, fiocco, which is a name for a boned portion of the ham (the other larger boned cut is called culatello). The above cut is from that same area of the ham, but what really matters to me is that there is a Read On »

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In honor of this month’s #charcutepalooza challenge over at Mrs. Wheelbarrow, I’m reposting this soppressata recipe from a couple years back. Wishing all who take up the challenge well. Happy curing! While David Lebovitz considers molecular gastronomy and  The Alinea Cookbook in a long and thoughtful post today (he approaches with great skepticism, as he’s a traditionalist at heart, and leaves with appreciation having come back round to where he’d begun but by a whole new route), I would like to consider some of the oldest molecular gastronomical magic known to man.  Combining ground pork and salt and seasonings, introducing to it some microscopic creatures, and waiting for it to dry a little, to achieve a tangy flavorful sausage that has never gone above room temperature. In December, a few of us went in on a pig.  One of the Read On »

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Chefs Christine Cikowski and Joshua Kulp, among the growing legions who are making our food better and helping us to appreciate it more, call their moveable feast Sunday Dinner Club because it evoked a time when their families shared a long meal together.  Sharing meals with the people you love is far more important than I’d ever realized, a fact that deepens the more I cook, read, and listen to other cooks, both home cooks and professionals.  I love that spirit. Sunday Dinner Club is an unusual Chicago-based business created in 2004.  What the chefs do is host dinner parties in their home and invite people on their mailing list to attend. The mailing list has been cultivated over the last six years by referral only which means that everyone that comes to the dinner club Read On »

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