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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Video: watch the Kocurek Family discuss the history of charcuterie and their business, via Huffington Post.

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Many have asked when our book, Salumi, a follow up or really continuation of our Charcuterie, will be out.  I finished the rewrite earlier this summer, and Brian, chef-owner of Forest Grill, my co-author whom I first wrote about in Soul of a Chef, finished up recipe testing, so the book is now slated for a summer 2012 publication. The book is devoted solely to the Italian craft of dry-curing meat.  Salumi is the general term for these meats.  Above were some trials I dried in the wine cellar of my dear friend, JD SULLIVAN!!!  It proved to be ideal, and a nice patina of beneficial mold grew naturally on the salame above. In the foreground is guanciale, dry-cured jowl.  I’m slicing some coppa; also on the board, tied, is lonza (dry-cured loin) and a small Read On »

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During a recent phone call with the excellent Elise of simplyrecipes, Elise wished aloud that I would address the nitrite issue directly.  “Trader Joe’s carries it!  Go look.  Is there one near you?” Indeed there is, and indeed they sell at least two products pitching themselves as a “healthier” bacon because they don’t add sodium nitrite. This is as odious as those sugar laden granola bars trumpeting “No Fat!” on their label—food marketers preying on a confused consumer who has been taught to fear food because of harmful additives (such as the recent, apparently genuine, Red Dye 40 warnings). Full disclosure if you don’t already know: I am a vocal bacon advocate, and one of my books, Charcuterie, relies on sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate for many of its recipes to cure foods such as Read On »

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