What is Charcuterie?

Charcuterie: Coming from the French words “chair” meaning flesh and “cuit” meaning cooked, charcuterie is the art of curing, smoking and cooking meat as a flavor and preservation method. Nobody knows exactly who if it was a solo person or when charcuterie came to be, some things are better left a mystery!

This past week I had the chance to participate in a two-day class covering all different facets of charcuterie. We began the process for prosciutto (I’ll have to check back with the owner of that leg in 2 years to know how that turned out!), bacon, guanciale (cured jowl), lardo (cured fat), porchetta (rolled, seasoned, roasted pork), zampone (pig trotter stuffed with a sausage like filling), and many different sausages. Not only did we get to preserve a whole pig but we also had the opportunity to try pairing different cured meats with different wines, now that is my idea of a good day!

There is nothing more important then respecting the ingredients you have in the kitchen, especially the animals. When you appreciate your ingredients and treat them with care your end product will end up that much more delicious!  So pick up a bottle of your favorite K-J red wine – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir – a sharp knife, pick out a recipe and cure, smoke or cook some meat!

Bonus: What charcuterie/meat books are on my bookshelf?

“Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing” by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Powlcyn

“Salumi: The Craft of Italian Dry Curing” by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Powlcyn

“The River Cottage Meat Book” by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall

“Pork and Sons” by Stephane Reynaud

“Whole Beast Butchery: The Complete Visual Guide to Beef, Lamb, and Pork” by Ryan Farr

“The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating” by Fergus Henderso

~Chef Sarena