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 Boetticher, 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. We 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. (For information about upcoming classes, daily and weekly menus and special events visit www.fattedcalf.com.) However, just published is their tome, “In the Charcuterie: The Fatted Calf’s Guide to Making Sausage, Salumi, Pâtés, Roasts, Confits, and Other Meaty Goods” (Ten Speed Press, September 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: “Imagine 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 your 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,” “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.
Boetticher and Miller 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 Boetticher 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 patés, crepinettes, confits and more; they sold them at farmers markets and restaurants around the Bay Area before opening their own butcher shop and charcuterie at Napa’s Oxbow Market several years ago.
Georgeanne first met Boetticher 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 Boetticher then did together.
“He has deliciously refined my version,” says Georgeanne, who now buys Boetticher’s boudin noir at his Napa store. “I get to have it without having to make it,” she says.
Over that pork weekend Boetticher 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.
— Ann M. Evans and Georgeanne Brennan are coauthors of the award-winning “Davis Farmers Market Cookbook, Tasting California’s Small Farms,” (2012.) They have a food and agricultural consultancy, Evans & Brennan, LLC. Their national blog “Who’s Cooking School Lunch?” features personal stories of front line men and women cooking school lunch. Reach the blog at www.whoscookingschoolunch.com and Ann and Georgeanne at email@example.com.
Pancetta-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin, from “In the Charcuterie”
1 trimmed pork tenderloin, about 1 pound
Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons white wine
3 to 4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
About 2 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, homemade (page 295) or store-bought
Putting it together
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
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 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. Lay the tenderloin 1 inch in from the edge of the sheet closest to you, placing it parallel to the edge. Fold the bottom 1 inch 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.
Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Slice into rounds 1 inch thick.
Serves 2 or 3
— Ann M. Evans and Georgeanne Brennan are 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.