Let’s talk charcuterie
If you want to talk charcuterie and all things meat and butchering, speak with Taylor Boetticher and Toponia Miller, owners of Fatted Calf Charcuterie in Napa and San Francisco. We’ve both taken butchering classes from Taylor, most recently a lamb butchering class in which we, along with 10 other eager would-be butchers, broke down a lamb carcass to its primal parts, boned out a shoulder, discovered and then removed the aitch bone from a leg before boning, separated the rack of chops, and then turned all the trimmings into crepinettes – seasoned ground lamb wrapped in caul fat. Part of the fun of classes at the Fatted Calf are the meaty snacks, like Mortadella, lardo, smoked duck breast, Pâté Rustique and coppa, served up with a special chutney, bread from the Model Bakery next door, and red and white wine (after the knives are stilled).
We can’t recommend the classes highly enough, but they sell out fast. However, just now published is their tome, In the Charcuterie: The Fatted Calf’s Guide to Making Sausage, Salumi, Pâtés, Roasts, Confits, and Other Meaty Goods (10-Speed Press, Sept, 2013).
The book begins with the pantry: “Meat makes up the core of the charcuterie, but our pantry provides us with a palette of flavors with which to work,” opens the chapter. We’re given a primer on nitrates, nitrites, and nitrate-free, all about salts, and how and when to use them, specific spices, and spice techniques, followed by a section on herbs and alliums. The chapter also includes mushrooms, fruits, and brandy.
Next comes Provisioning the Larder: “Image the perfect larder in a low dark corner on the north-facing side of the house. Its clean tiled walls are lined with tidy shelves stocked with jars of suet and drippings; baskets of apples, potatoes, onions, and winter squashes; a tub of golden butter; crocks of sausage and duck confit. Suspended from a hook is a haunch of pork with a thick rind of fat, ready to be turned into creamy lard, a heady broth, perhaps a smoked ham. Cool and comforting, the larder affords an assurance that you will be able to provide for you table.”
We are already contemplating how to create that larder, live that life, cure our own everything and we are only 25 pages into the 342 page book. Filled with step by step photos as needed, the book is loaded with recipes such as ‘Pork Shoulder Pot Roast Stuffed with Garlic, Greens’, and ‘Walnuts, Duck and Lemongrass Sausage Patties’, and such basics as how to make your own pastrami, cure pork jowl (Guanciale, a specialty of central Italy), and an international sausage seasoning chart.
The book covers just about everything you need to know to work with meat from the whole beast up, whether duck, rabbit, lamb, beef, or pork, including where to buy specialty ingredients and equipment. And, besides all the meat, there are recipes for accoutrements, like pickled red onions, dill pickles, and Cowboy Beans.
Taylor and Taponia met when they were both culinary students at the Culinary Academy of America at Hyde Park. From there, they apprenticed in Italy to the legendary Tuscan butcher, Dario Cecchini, followed by a move to the San Francisco Bay Area where Taylor worked in charcuterie at Café Rouge on Fourth Street in Berkeley. Eventually they rented a commercial kitchen space in San Francisco’s South of Market area, where they turned out pates, crepinettes, confits and more and sold them at farmers’ markets and to restaurants around the Bay Area before opening their own butcher shop and charcuterie at Napa’s Oxbow Market several years ago.
Georgeanne first met Taylor during his early period when both were part of a weekend pig slaughter and all things pork at the Apple Farm in Philo, founded by Sally Schmidt, the original owner of the French Laundry. Georgeanne was invited because at the time, she was one of the few around who had experience in capturing the blood and making boudin noir, French style blood sausage, which she and Taylor then did together.
“He has deliciously refined my version,” says Georgeanne, who now buys Taylor’s boudin noir at his Napa store. “I get to have it without having to make it,” she says.
Over that pork weekend, as the main dish for dinner, Taylor produced, with Georgeanne helping, a porchetta in which a pork belly, still attached to the now-boned loin, is wrapped around a rich slathering of garlic, crushed fennel, and rosemary. The fatty pork belly bastes the meat as it cooks and the pork skin becomes crisp and succulent. This recipe, along with blood sausage, is in his book, and we have a much simplified version in our Davis Farmers Market Cookbook.
In the Charcuterie is a book that is equally valuable for the professional as it is for the home cook, which is a rare combination. We encourage you to find your own style with charcuterie, whether it be a simple seasoning on a roast or butchering a whole hog. You’ll find it very rewarding.
“In the Charcuterie, Taylor Boetticher and Toponia Miller, 10-Speed Press” is available at bookstores and online. For information about upcoming classes, daily and weekly menus, and special events: www.fattedcalf.com
Pancetta-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin, from “In the Charcuterie”
1 trimmed pork tenderloin, about 1 pound (450 g)
Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup (55 g) Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons white wine
3 to 4 tablespoons (about 10 g) finely chopped fresh rosemary
About 2 ounces (55 g) thinly sliced pancetta, homemade (page 295) or store-bought
Putting it together
Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).
Season the tenderloin on all sides with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, stir together the mustard and wine. Using a pastry brush or your hands, cover the tenderloin liberally with the mix. Sprinkle the rosemary evenly over the roast.
Place a 10-inch (25 cm) square sheet of waxed paper or parchment paper on a work surface. Neatly cover the paper with the pancetta slices, overlapping them by about 1/2 inch (12 mm). Lay the tenderloin 1 inch (2.5 cm) in from the edge of the sheet closest to you, placing it parallel to the edge. Fold the bottom 1 inch (2.5 cm) over the tenderloin, and then roll the paper around the tenderloin. The pancetta should be tightly wrapped around the tenderloin. Remove the paper.
Outfit a baking sheet or a roasting pan with a rack, and place the roast on the rack. Roast for about 20 minutes, until the pancetta is golden and crisp and a meat thermometer inserted into the center of the thickest part of the roast registers 140°F (60°C).
Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Slice into rounds 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick.
Serves 2 or 3
(Recipe reprinted with permission from In the Charcuterie by Taylor Boetticher and Toponia Miller, copyright (c) 2013. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.)
Ann M. Evans and Georgeanne Brennan are the c0-writers of the “From the Ground Up” series, and are the coauthors of “The Davis Farmers Market Cookbook, Tasting California’s Small Farms.” (2012) They have a food and agricultural consultancy, Evans & Brennan, LLC, specializing in farm fresh food in school lunch. Follow them on their national blog, Who’s Cooking School Lunch? (www.whoscookingschoolunch.com) or reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org.