A new cookbook – can you ever have too many? – has got me ordering obscure salts online and curing obscure pig parts in the extra fridge. It’s Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn and it’s pure, food-worshiping joy. Plainly put, charcuterie is a French term for meat preservation and this tome has it all. I’ve started with another pork belly (for bacon) and also had the Crockers cut a jowl for me. Pork jowls usually go into sausage, part of the reason why sausage is so damned tasty. But cured and dried on its own, the lowly, disrespected jowl becomes the great Italian cured meat, guanciale (gwahnchee-AH-lay).
Easy to execute and with in-depth reportage of the origins and geographic rationales behind all of the recipes, Charcuterie is part cookbook, part historical guide. It’s also been a best selling food book for several years now so I know there have got to be people in Columbia doing this stuff. I only know of one other guy right now, surely there are more. It’s just too easy, too affordable and too much fun for there not to be.
So c’mon, anyone else curing meats in town?