Salumi: The Craft of Italian Dry Curing by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn… What an amazing book, absolute food porn for us Chefs and foodies alike. The problem is two fold, first, it has me curing everything in sight. I got five Kuni Kuni pigs from Cook Pig the other day. I normally use them all for Porchetta but got a bug up my ass and decide to make a ton of charcuterie. I suppose I should back up and mention that I am Chef of Figue Mediterranean in La Quinta, California… a relatively new restaurant hopefully popping up on the national level soon. One of the big features of our operation is a charcuterie bar reminiscent of a high end sushi bar. The intent was always that we would make our own charcuterie but I never had much time till now. I suppose the whole opening a restaurant thing got in the way.
So today sous chef extraordinaire Alex Hernandez and myself set about curing everything in sight. Filetto cured with Aleppo Pepper and Orange; citrus and fennel cured lonzo, pancetta, spicy guanciale and my first attempt at coppa… I scared our sommelier Celeste because I told her that I would hang my meat in her wine box since the temperature and humidity was perfect. I think the thought of over 100 pounds of meat hanging next to her great wine selections scared her…
Here are photos from the day’s work sprinkled with a few other forays into Charcuterie world:
Lamb Mortadella made from Elysian Fields lamb… It tastes so good! I have been serving it with house made Fig Pickles
All in all we cured 100 pounds of freshly butchered pork. We used the salt box method which essentially is rubbing every single crevice of meat in coarse sea salt, vacuum packing everything then letting it sit refrigerated for a few days. The basic procedure for all whole muscle meats is the same. What varied and will vary is the seasoning in the final curing. Since my palate of flavors includes France, Italy Spain, Basque region, Lebanon, Greece, Morocco and anywhere else in the Mediterranean I have a lot of historical flavor combinations to pull from, not too mention the mixing of cultures. In six weeks we will have a tasty selection of house meats for our charcuterie bar.