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What is Barding?

Most people agree that everything tastes better with bacon. Wrapping foods in bacon is a fad with serious staying power…and deep historical roots. The technical term for wrapping food in a layer of fat to add flavor and moisture is “barding.” Bacon is commonly used because aside from its signature fat content, the flavor is sweet, salty and smoky at the same time. Perfect for imparting flavor to a lean piece of meat.

Pigeon with bacon and myrtle and wild berries

Classic bacon-wrapped items, such as rumaki (chicken liver or water chestnuts wrapped in bacon and brushed with a sweet soy glaze), angels on horseback (oysters wrapped in bacon), devils on horseback (prunes wrapped in bacon), and bacon-wrapped filet mignon, have been around for years. Veal paupiettes are another classic version of barding.

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Think beyond these old school stand-bys and try baconizing the following:

  • Fruit: dried dates, pineapple wedges, fresh figs
  • Vegetables: bundles of asparagus, green beans or green onions, mushrooms, potato wedges, spicy peppers, cherry tomatoes, avocado wedges, slices of acorn squash
  • Seafood: shrimp, scallops, thick pieces of fish, like seabass or salmon
  • Meat: pork loin, venison tenderloin, meatloaf or meatballs, hamburger sliders
  • Poultry: whole pheasants or guinea hen, bite-sized chicken pieces, bone-in turkey breast, quail
  • Other: hard-cooked eggs, rolls or bread sticks

Once your items are wrapped in bacon, you can choose to bake, broil, grill, or sauté them. If the item you are wrapping in bacon has a short cook time (e.g., a fresh fig), you will need to par-cook the bacon before using to ensure it is fully cooked when the dish is ready to eat. Cook the bacon first in a skillet or the oven until it is half-way cooked, but still pliable. Then proceed to twist, drape or wrap it around the item of your choice, and finish it in the oven, on the grill or in the pan.

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Mix things up by using a wide variety of bacon. Hickory smoked and applewood smoked both have the traditional flavors we all recognize. For something completely different, try duck bacon wrapped around dried apricots or baby bok choy. Ventrèche, or French pancetta, isn’t technically bacon because it is not smoked, but can be used in all the same ways. It is especially good wrapped around figs and blue cheese.

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This squab recipe involves plums wrapped in bacon, which is a variation we highly  recommend. And you can watch Chef Marcus Samuelsson prepare it in our video.

It’s Game Season! Save 15% This Week

Whether beast or fowl, all game is 15% off all week. Our Scottish game, flown in fresh from the hunt, our venison, raised in pristine pastureland in New Zealand, and even dainty and delicious quail are all specially priced through 10/19/14 at dartagnan.com.
HPC_WildGame15And check our website for recipes and videos. Worried about cooking wild boar? No need! Chef Marc Murphy and Ariane show you how in this video.

And our recipe page has plenty of inspirations for game feasts. Forget the thrill of the chase … this is all about the thrill of the taste.

October is ….

… National Chili Month,  National Apple Month and National Pork Month.  Yes, all in October. Who decides these things? Whoever you are, we thank you.

Apples by Evelyn Simak

Apple tree, photo by Evelyn Simak

To celebrate, we offer you recipes that involve one or more of these, because we don’t have one for pork and apple chili. But that could be interesting…Happy October!

Anasazi Cowboy Chili with Buffalo & Nopales

Anasazi beans are a cross between kidney and pinto beans. They hold their shape beautifully in this spicy buffalo chili recipe by Steve Sando.

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Ingredients

Serves 6-8

1 pound Anasazi beans
1 1/2 medium white onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound ground buffalo meat
1 jalapeño chile pepper, finely chopped
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
3/4 teaspoon good-quality chile powder, such as chipotle
1 can (14 1/2 oz) crushed tomatoes
1 cup lager beer
2 tablespoons masa harina (optional)
2 nopales paddles, prepared and cooked
Crème fraîche
Grated cheddar cheese
Scallions, sliced, white and pale green parts
Fresh cilantro, chopped

Preparation

1. Soak beans overnight in water at room temperature.

2. After soaking, put the beans in a large pot with their soaking water and enough cold water to cover the beans by 1 inch. Bring to a boil. Add one-third of the onions and half of the chopped garlic. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, until the beans are nearly done, about 1 hour. Season with salt.

3. Meanwhile, in a soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the meat, season with salt, and cook, stirring, until the meat loses all of its pink color and begins to brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Pour off most of the fat.

4. Add the remaining onions and garlic and the chile, and sauté until soft, about 10 minutes, scraping up any browned bits clinging to the bottom of the pot. Add the cumin, oregano, chile powder, tomatoes, and beer and return the meat to the pot. Add the beans and their broth. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer gently until the flavors are blended and the beans are tender, about 30 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding salt and pepper and more chile powder if needed.4

5. If you’d like a thicker chili, dissolve the masa harina in 1/2 cup water, stirring well to eliminate lumps. Stir the paste into the chili, add the nopales, adjust the seasonings, and cook for 10 minutes. Ladle the chili into warmed bowls. Pass the sour cream, grated cheese, green onions, and cilantro at the table.

CHEF’S NOTE: Any of the pinto beans will work nicely in this chili, as will Vallarta, yellow Indian woman, or black beans.

Pork Chops with Apples

Lucinda Scala Quinn’s homey pork chops with apples and cider are sure to become a family favorite. The perfect recipe to celebrate the apple harvest!

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Ingredients

Serves 6

6 Berkshire Pork Milanese chops
Salt and coarsely-ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large white onion, sliced
2-3 apples, cored and sliced (about 3 cups)
1 cup apple cider, white wine, or chicken stock

Preparation

1. Trim the chops of excess fat and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat a 14-inch cast-iron skillet (if you have a smaller one, you’ll need to work in batches) over high heat, and then swirl in the olive oil. Lay the pork chops in the pan and don’t move for a few minutes. This assures a good golden sear. Turn the chops over and brown well on the second side for a total of about 10 minutes. Remove the chops to a warm plate.

2. Swirl the butter into the pan. Add the onion and apples. Sauté until the onion slices are lightly caramelized and the apples have begun to soften, about 8 minutes. Stir in the beer or other liquid. Return the chops to the pan.

3. Cook until the pork is tender, about 15 more minutes (depending on the size of the chops), turning halfway through and covering the chops with the apple mixture. If the apple mixture needs a little thickening, remove the chops to the warm plate again and simmer the mixture on high for a few minutes to reduce. Serve the chops over rice or mashed potatoes with a large spoonful of the apple-onion mixture over the top.

Potato Latkes with Foie Gras & Apples

There is no reason to wait for Hanukkah to make these golden potato pancakes. After all, it’s National Apple Month. First the pancakes are crisped in duck fat and then crowned with silky foie gras and tart apple.

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 Ingredients

Serves 6

2 medium Granny Smith or other tart green apples, peeled, cored, and cut crosswise in 1/8-inch slices (reserve trimmings)
2/3 cup simple syrup
1¼ cups duck and veal demi-glace
2 medium-large baking potatoes (about 1¼ pounds), peeled
1 small onion
1 small golden delicious or other sweet apple, peeled
1 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
1 egg, beaten
6 or more tablespoons all-purpose flour
Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
1 duck fat
6 foie gras slices

Preparation

1. Combine sliced apples with simple syrup in a bowl and soak for 8 hours or overnight.

2. Add apple trimmings to demi-glace, bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes. Strain and keep warm.

3. Grate potatoes, red apple, and onion. Gently stir in parsley, egg, and flour, and season with salt and pepper. Heat enough duck fat to measure about ½ inches deep in a large heavy skillet. Form mixture into 12 pancakes. If too moist, add a little more flour. When fat is hot, about 375 degrees F, add only as many pancakes as will comfortably fit in pan without crowding, flattening them slightly. Cook until browned and crispy on both sides, turning once. Remove with a slotted spatula, blot on paper towels, and keep warm in a warm oven.Discard fat and wipe out pan.

4. Heat pan until very hot. Season foie gras with salt and pepper, and sauté until lightly browned and medium-rare inside, about 45 seconds per side.

5. On warm plates, place a potato pancake, then add an apple slice and a foie gras medallion on top. Spoon on sauce, and serve.

 

 

Friends & Family Sale!

Buy whatever you like at dartagnan.com and take 15% off with promo code FRIENDS14 for 3 days … beginning NOW!

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Mad About Mushrooms

We’re more than just meat … did you know that D’Artagnan is also a purveyor of mushrooms?  We follow the seasons around the globe to bring wild mushrooms to our chef clients.  The fragrant and delicate truffles and porcinis, morels, chanterelles, mousserons, hedgehogs, matsutakes, chicken of the woods and many more, come by truck and airplane from just about every corner of the globe. Foraged from woods and mountains by experts, then swiftly transported to us, these are the very essence of wild eating. Their seasonal availability, fragile and perishable nature, and their susceptibility to the vagaries of weather make them all the more precious.

We also offer beautiful cultivated and wild mushrooms that work in many recipes, such as the ones below. We hope they will inspire you to cook a meal that includes mushrooms. And should you be inclined to explore, or rather, to forage for more, you will find others on our website.

Creamed Mushrooms on Toast

This simple recipe is rich and comforting. And while we think it’s totally fabulous as-is, when you add a generous knob of black truffle butter and serve it on petit toasts, it becomes luxurious party food.

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Creamed Mushrooms on Toast, recipe by Colman Andrews

Ingredients

Serves 6

4 tablespoons butter, plus more for buttering rolls
2 lbs wild & exotic mushrooms, brushed clean, cut into pieces of equal size or left whole if small
6 small French rolls
1 cup heavy cream
Coarse sea salt
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)

Preparation

1. Preheat the broiler.

2. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, for about 20 minutes, or until they have released their liquor and reabsorbed some of it.

3. Meanwhile, split the French rolls, butter them lightly, and toast them lightly under the broiler. Divide the toasted rolls equally between 6 plates (2 small halves or 1 large half on each plate).

4. Add the cream to the mushrooms, stirring it in well, and continue to cook for another 8 to 10 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Season to taste with salt, then spoon the mushrooms and sauce over the rolls. Garnish with some chopped parsley, if you like.

Pasta with Foie Gras & Wild Mushrooms

Add a little luxury to weeknight dinner with this simple recipe that uses top-tier ingredients but comes together in minutes. It’s a favorite dish at D’Artagnan, and we’ve served it at many tasting events to great acclaim.

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Ingredients

Serves 4

8 ounces foie gras cubes
1 pound Gemelli pasta, or similar
2 Tablespoons black truffle butter
1 container duck and veal demi-glace
2 cups wild mushrooms, chopped
1 Tablespoon porcini powder
Salt & freshly cracked pepper

Preparation

1. Cook pasta in lightly salted water, to al dente. Reserve about 3/4 cup of pasta water, set aside. Drain pasta, rinse with cool water and set aside.

2. Heat a large, dry skillet over high flame. When hot, sauté foie gras until golden brown (about 1 minute), then remove from pan and set aside. Add the mushrooms to the same pan and sauté for 2-3 minutes.

3. Leaving the mushrooms in the pan, add the demi-glace, reserved pasta water and porcini flour, then reduce by a third.

4. Add the cooked pasta to the pan, toss to coat with the liquid, add 2 tablespoons of black truffle butter, allowing it to melt. Now add the sautéed foie gras, and toss it all together gently.

5. Add salt, pepper, and more truffle butter, to taste.

 Wild Mushroom Bread Pudding

This versatile, savory bread pudding pairs well with meat or poultry and can be baked in a large dish or individual ramekins.

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Ingredients

Serves 8

4 cups fresh brioche cubes (about ½”)
2 lbs assorted wild mushrooms, chopped
2 shallots, finely chopped
3 tablespoons black truffle butter
6 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
10 chives, finely chopped
3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
4 eggs
1/2 cup grated hard, aged cheese (such as Parmigiano-Reggiano or Mimolette)

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a medium sized casserole, about 9×12.

2. Spread brioche cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, turning once, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

3. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon black truffle butter. Add shallots and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mushroom liquid has evaporated and mushrooms turn golden (about 15 minutes). Stir in thyme, parsley and chives. Cook about 1 minute more, remove from heat.

4. In a large bowl, whisk together cream, milk, eggs, and cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Gently stir in mushroom mixture and bread cubes, turning to coat. Let rest for about 10 minutes, then pour into prepared dish.

5. Bake until slightly firm to the touch, about 30 – 35 minutes. Cool slightly on wire rack, then unmold and serve.

Broiled Wild Mushrooms with Tamari Butter

This simple recipe from Bruce and Eric Bromberg of Blue Ribbon fame, has few ingredients but is packed with umami. It’s a favorite dish at their New York City restaurant, Blue Ribbon Sushi, and once you see how easy and delicious it is from your own kitchen, we have no doubt it will be one your favorites too! And it takes only ten minutes to make.

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Broiled Wild Mushrooms with Tamari Butter by the Bromberg Brothers. Photo: Quentin Bacon.

Ingredients

Serves 4

1 pound wild & exotic mushroom mix, gently cleaned and trimmed if needed
2 tablespoons tamari
2 tablespoons sake
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preparation

1. Preheat the broiler.

2. In a medium bowl, toss together the mushrooms, tamari and sake. Arrange on a rimmed baking sheet and dot with butter. Broil, turning once, until tender and golden, about 5 minutes total.

Save on Fall Faves

We are always sad to see summer go, but there is a certain pleasure in the arrival of autumn. It means going back to the kitchen and the comfort food techniques we love: roasting, simmering and braising. It’s time to get cozy and get cooking.

So we’re kicking it off today with 15% off our favorite meats for fall. Stock up and and plan ahead for kitchen victory.  Dust off the slow cooker, and bring on the braise.

Shop and save until Sunday 9/28 – the sale ends at midnight EST.

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Cooking with Duck

As you might expect, there are quite a few duck recipes on our website. From the meaty breast of the mighty moulard duck to a tender leg of duck confit, we love it all. If you are stuck on duck like us, have a gander at this selection of recipes. And enjoy this video of Sara Moulton and Ariane demonstrating how super easy it is to sear a duck breast for dinner. Duck breast is the new steak, after all.

Crispy Duck Salad

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This simple and refreshing duck salad makes a cooling first course or light lunch. The tangy lime vinaigrette is tempered by rich duck and a drizzle of sweet, Thai-style sauce.

YIELD: 2 AS A MAIN COURSE, 4 AS A STARTER

Ingredients

2 duck leg confit
1 heart of romaine lettuce, chopped
1 head bibb lettuce, chopped
½ English cucumber, sliced into thin batons
1 handful mung bean sprouts
2 sprigs fresh mint, finely chopped
6 sprigs fresh cilantro, finely chopped
Sesame seeds, to garnish

FOR THE SAUCE

½ cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 thai chiles, finely minced
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce

FOR THE DRESSING

4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoon fish sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
2 small Thai chiles, finely chopped
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Preparation

1. Make the sauce: Combine ingredients in small sauce pan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until sauce reaches a syrupy consistency, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Cool completely.

2. Broil the duck legs until skin is browned and crispy, and meat is heated through. Carefully remove from the bones and shred.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients. Add lettuces, mung beans, cucumber and herbs. Toss to coat. Divide salad between two plates. Top with shredded duck. Drizzle a little of the reserved sauce over the duck. Garnish with sesame seeds.

 Duck with Green Picholine Olives

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The green Picholine olives in Chef Daniel Boulud’s braised duck provide juicy bites of tart, salty flavor.

YIELD: 4-6

Ingredients

4-6 moulard duck legs, about 3 lbs
Kosher salt
Coarsely-ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1/4 pound applewood smoked bacon, sliced, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2 small onions, peeled, trimmed and chopped
2 small turnips, peeled and diced
1/2 cup green Picholine olives, pitted
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
2 cups chicken stock

Preparation

1.The night before you plan to serve the dish, place a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Season the duck with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a medium cast-iron pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the duck legs and sear until golden brown on all sides, 7 to 10 minutes.

3. Transfer the duck to a platter. Pour off the excess fat from the pot. Return the duck to the pot along with the bacon and cook, stirring, over medium-high heat for 5 to 6 minutes. Spoon out any fat out of the pot. Add the carrots, onions, turnips, olives, thyme, and bay leaf, and pour in the stock. Transfer the pot to the oven and braise, covered, for 2 hours, until the duck is tender. Chill overnight.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the layer of fat from the top of the sauce and heat the duck in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove the thyme sprigs and the bay leaf and serve.

 Five Spice Duck Breast

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YIELD: 4

Heady Chinese five spice and a sticky-sweet sauce spiked with star anise make a wonderful complement to rich duck breast.

Ingredients

4 duck magret half-breasts
2 1/2 tablespoons Chinese five-spice powder
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 star anise, broken in half
8 baby bok choi
2 scallions, white and light green parts only, sliced on the bias
2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
¾ cup duck and veal demi-glace
2 tsp honey
Steamed Rice, for serving

Preparation

1. With a sharp paring knife, score the fat of each duck breast in a cross-hatch pattern, making sure not to cut into the meat. In a small bowl, mix together five spice, salt and pepper. Rub the duck breasts with the spice mixture. Heat a heavy frying pan over high flame. When hot, add the duck breasts skin-side down. Turn the heat down to medium and and cook for 5-6 minutes or until the skin is very crisp and brown and the fat has rendered from under the skin. Tip out any excess fat. Turn the breasts over and add the star anise to the pan. Cook for another 5 minutes or until the duck breasts feel firm to the touch but not too solid – you want them pink in the middle. Take the duck out and leave to rest for 5 minutes.

2. To the same pan, over medium high heat, add the demi-glace, soy sauce, and honey, stirring to combine and, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce starts to thicken. Add the bok choy and scallions. Cook, turning to coat, until the bok choy is cooked through but not soggy.

3. Serve duck breasts over rice with steamed bok choy. Spoon sauce over the top.

Blue Ribbon’s Duck Club Sandwich

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YIELD: 4 SANDWICHES

This recipe, from the excellent Blue Ribbon Cookbook, is the Bromberg Brother’s twist on a classic club sandwich using flavorful duck instead of turkey. We consider it lunch heaven in the palms of your hands.

Ingredients

4 Muscovy duck breasts, about 8 ounces each
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup mayonnaise
12 slices raisin bread, toasted
4 slices applewood smoked bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
2 small tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Using a sharp knife, score the fat of the duck breasts in a cross-hatch pattern, being careful not to cut the meat. Season generously. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Sear the duck breasts, skin side down, until the skin browns and the fat renders, about 8 minutes. Place the duck, skin side up, on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 140 degrees F, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to rest and cool. Once cooled, slice very thin against the grain.

3.To assemble the sandwich, spread 1 tablespoon mayonnaise on each of 4 slices of toast and sprinkle with half of the bacon. Divide the lettuce evenly among the breast slices then top each with half of the sliced duck. Top with second layer of toast and spread the remaining mayonnaise over the slices. Sprinkle with the remaining bacon. Top with tomato, onion, and the remaining duck. Cover the sandwiches with the remaining slices of toast, cut into quarters and serve with your favorite potato chips.

 

Visit our website for more recipes like these, and please share your home-cooked duck dishes on our Facebook or Twitter pages with the #duckspotting. We love to see what’s happening in the kitchen.

Duck in for Deals!

You lucky duck. No sooner did Charc Week end … and now there’s a special deal on all things duck at dartagnan.com.

Enjoy 20% off duck all week. But do it before Sunday, September 14 at midnight EST.

And please let us know what you’re cooking! Share your duck dishes with us on Facebook or Twitter. Tag your posts #duckspotting.

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Charc Week Continues: Jambon de Bayonne

Our jambon de Bayonne is made right here in the United States, and some would argue that the use of “Bayonne,” as in the AOC, is all kinds of wrong. Ariane was well aware of this when she began making the product in the early days of D’Artagnan. Of course, she could see Bayonne from her office window… Bayonne, NJ, that is. Using the same simple, centuries-old dry-curing technique that made this ham famous in France, our domestic version may break rules, but it satisfies jambon cravings.

Try it wrapped around figs, melon or pear slices. Sandwiched in a baguette with mustard. On a charcuterie board with cheese.

Buy it now and save 15% off at dartagnan.com during our Charc Week celebration – when all charcuterie is 15% off.  The sale ends Sept. 7 at midnight EST.

jambon de bayonne equation CharcWeek

 

 

Charcuterie 101

Whole books have been devoted to the subject. Techniques have been handed down through the generations, and different cultures have distinct charcuterie traditions. So what is this mysterious “charcuterie”? Pronounced shahr-kyut-uh-ree it is a French word that comes from chair “flesh” and cuit “cooked.” It refers to cooked, cured or smoked meats such as bacon, ham, sausage, terrines, rillettes, galantines, pâtés and dry-cured sausage. Charcuterie has been considered a French culinary art since at least the 15th century. The specialized store in France is also called a charcuterie and will have confits, foie gras and a selection of ready-to-eat dishes.

Charcuterie France

Germans sell their cured meats at a delicatessen, and Italians purvey salumi in a salumeria. In America many of the Italian salumi products are familiar, such as prosciutto, salami, pepperoni, sopressata and mortadella. If you’ve ever eaten antipasto you already know about charcuterie. Been to the deli and ordered a liverwurst sandwich? How about a cold cut sandwich? Both are charcuterie. Even baloney is charcuterie.

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Spain is legendary for dry-aged aging hams from heritage breed pigs. Germany is noted for the frankfurter and Braunschweiger, among a myriad of sausages produced there. Poland offers the smoked kielbasa. And in the United States there are many that swear by the flavor of smoked and cured Virginia ham. Call it what you will, charcuterie is universal.

A Little History

Food traditions are often best understood in the context of history. With charcuterie it’s necessary to go back to the origins of Homo sapiens. Since every culture preserves meat in some form, it appears to be a foundational element of human survival. Imagine hunting, gathering and having to eat everything before it spoiled. This process would ensure a nomadic lifestyle and subsistence diet. However, if you could store food for later, you might settle down, build a shelter and put in roots. Since the origins of cooking meat are lost in our prehistoric past, it’s only conjecture that early man might have hung fresh meat near the fire to protect it, and discovered that it cured over the smoke and tasted quite good the next day.

Whenever it was that humans started to cook and cure meat, it has not stopped since. Sausage recipes date to before the golden age of ancient Greece, and traditional sausages have been made for over 2000 years in both Rome and France. The Romans set standards for raising, killing and cooking pigs, and they regulated the process. Centuries ago, Germanic tribesmen made fortunes selling salted hams made from acorn-fattened boars that were hunted in dense forests. But charcuterie really comes into its own in France during the Middle Ages.

In France, pigs were raised by virtually every household and slaughtered when the chill of autumn took hold, to fill the larders for the winter with lovely bacon, ham, potted pork and lard. To this day in the French countryside the pig slaughter and resulting day of cooking that follows is taken on as a communal ritual. And no part of the pig is wasted, from the intestines to the hooves.

Today, in the United States there is plenty of old-world style charcuterie available, both in restaurants and stores, and DIYers are rediscovering the joy of making charcuterie at home.

Edouard-Jean Dambourgez (French, 1844-1890) A Pork Butcher's Shop

Making a Charcuterie Plate

Just like a cheese board, a charcuterie platter is an ideal way to serve a party and please all palates. Arranging a charcuterie board is easy. It should have a range of items representing the various styles of preparation from cooked to dry-cured. The meats should be complemented by something acidic, like cornichons (tiny French pickles). Whole-grain mustard makes a nice accompaniment, as do olives or even black truffle butter. Allow two ounces per person, and serve with a rustic country bread, or good quality, plain crackers. A hearty red wine (but not too heavy) will make a good accompaniment, such as Côtes-du-Rhône, Gigondas or Madiran.

A charcuterie board might display:

Pâté de Campagne is a rustic, coarse pork pâté and is a staple in France
Pheasant Terrine Herbette, another coarse pâté made of pheasant, pork and fennel
In the dry-cured family Jambon de Bayonne, a thinly-sliced pork product is perfect
Saucisson sec is a dry-cured sausage, similar to salami, made of pork or sometimes wild boar
Mousse Truffée is a spreadable turkey/chicken liver mousse with black truffles
Smoked duck breast is air cured and smoked over natural wood

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