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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To celebrate this week’s publication of Salumi, my and Brian Polycn’s deeper quest into the craft of dry-curing meat, I’m giving away three copies signed by both me and Brian to three commenters on this post. For those who aren’t clear on the definition (and Italians don’t make things easy), salumi refers to Italian cured or preserved meats—mostly dry-cured, and mostly made from pig parts—everything from guanciale to mortadella to prosciutto. Salami, with an A rather than a U, are dry-cured sausages and are one of the many preparations that salumi comprises. My aim, as in much of my cookbook work, is to simplify what seems to be complicated. When I walked into my first salumeria, I was astonished by the variety available. Case upon case of salumi, whole sections devoted to different kinds of Read On »

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  Amazon is always ahead, damn them! They’d been advertising an August 27 release date for my new book, Salumi: The Craft of Italian Dry Curing, but suddenly I’m getting twitpics from people who have ordered and already received their copy! The video isn’t ready, but you folks clearly are, so here it is, Brian Polcyn’s and my Salumi, the follow-up to our previous love song to animal fat and salt. The new book focuses on dry-curing meat, both whole muscles, such as coppa and pancetta, and ground meat, such as salami. Charcuterie encompassed a broad range of preserved foods, including pâtés and confits. With a couple of exceptions (mortadella, the sopressata of Tuscany, which is the Italian version of french fromage de tête), salumi refers to salted, dried meats that are, when done well, with well-fed, well-raised pigs, 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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