Friday, April 11, 2014

Mystery Meat:
The Rise of Charcuterie

It is no mystery to me. I have been interested in mystery meat for decades. The mystery for me was, "Why has it always been so hard to sell?"

In last year's trade magazine's year-in-reviews, almost most every one of them had something about the rise of charcuterie. In fact this was so much so that a couple of our journals name charcuterie the new number one appetizer.

I have always joked with my staff that if your customer cant say it, you will never sell it. Ready now: "shar - kew tah - rie."  What I believe to be the turning point of the fashionista's aversion to charcuturie came from an episode a while back from the TV show Modern Family (it would be great if we could find this actual clip). The dialog went something like this.....

Jay - The first step in plane building-- Organize the parts. You got your power plant. You got your fuselage. You got your control surfaces. What's that?
Manny - A charcuterie. You got your prosciutto, your pancetta, your salami.Jay - That's charcuterie? I've been avoiding that on menus for years. They're killing themselves with that name.

We have always used a number of different sausages, pates and hams in our dishes. In the past when when we have tried to sell a charcuterie platter, it was a flop. Armed with this new belief that we can sell it, we are going to try again. Here is our latest version of a charcuterie plate.

  • Mortadella - The Italian father of bologna. Very mild with its traditional smattering of pistachio nuts. From the Framani company of San Francisco 
  • Bresaola - An air cured beef. It has a similar feel and texture to prosciutto but a touch milder. 
  • Country Pate - Made in house by chef Chris. Most people associate pate with liver. This is not always the case. This pate is all ground pork with no liver. It is laced with cognac, cream, black peppercorns, and bacon. Coarsely ground and baked in a water bath. More like a very rich cold meat loaf.
  • Serrano Ham - The Spanish version of prosciutto. Usually carved from the bone. Some Serrano hams can sell for hundreds of dollars per pound.  
  • Calabrese Salami - A hot angry Italian Salami.

Served with crusty bread, stone ground mustard and cornichons. I would suggest mixing it with three good friends, a bottle of wine and one of our cheese samplers. Heaven....

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