Charcuterie (Char – KOOTer- REE): The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing

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One of the focal points of our new restaurant Figue will be the charcuterie bar.  This has been a hard concept for me to get my brain around.  Not hard in the sense of what to serve but more how to serve and how to approach it.

On the offerings side of the debate I want to feature the absolutely sexy Jamón Ibérico de Bellota.  This ham is from free-range pigs that roam oak forests, called dehesas, along the border between Spain and Portugal, and eat only acorns during this last period. Bellota jamones are prized both for their smooth texture and rich, savory taste. A good ibérico ham has regular flecks of intramuscular fat, marbling. Because of the pig’s diet of acorns, much of the fat is oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid that has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol.  Other offerings will include a wide range of locally prepared charcuterie from salumi artisans like the Meat Men in San Diego whose cured meats are absolutely amazing (go to their site here), Paul Bertolli’s incredible handcrafted  Fra Mani line (visit Fra Mani here), Cristiano Creminelli’s amazing salumi (visit Creminelli’s here) to producing some of our own mortadellas, lonzo’s and the like.  So many great cured meats to offer so little time!

Figue at Night 010913 09

The real debate raging in my head is how to present it in a way the guests will get.  I keep coming back to the point that I want our 10 seat “salumi bar” to be like a sushi bar in spirit.  I want interaction between the cooks manning the hand cranked slicers and the guests enjoying the show.  Meat will be displayed in small glass cases similar to sushi display cases and also hanging on hooks behind.  I hope my staff will work this station with the excitement of a child waking on Christmas morning!

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