Know Your Salami
‘Know your food’ is quite the popular catch phrase lately, so I thought you should know. This is how salami happens. Cured meats may seem a total mystery, but it turns out they’re not. Here’s a simple flow-chart:
Purchase and butcher a pig. Get one that ran around outside, nosed in the dirt and lounged in the shade of a maple tree. Maybe scored a few acorns and tasty roots. Got wet when it rained. Buy it from a farmer with a name. An actual person. Perhaps you’ll name it as a way of honoring it. This one is Bessie.
Reserve the fat and all the odd bits that don’t lend themselves to other preparations.
Grind it all. Channel your inner Michael Ruhlman or Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstahl or, if you want local, imagine you’re Rob Levitt. Mix in salt and goodies like herbs, spices and a splash o’ vino. Stuff this all into casings, natural casings, please.
Get the kitchen string going and hang your beautiful work in the garage. Or basement – I once hung a duck breast prosciutto on the handlebars of my wife’s bike in our basement storage. Don’t tell her.
Revel in the miracle that you’ve made happen. Was it hard? No. Did it take time? Yes. Can you imagine walking past all that garage art and having to hold back until they’re “done”? Oh, the waiting!
Now you know where your food comes from. It is not a grocery store miracle. It is old world. Mankind has been making cured meats for ages because a tasty salami is shelf stable and helps to use all parts of the animal. Snout to tail eating is about not wasting part of the animal. Now fire up the brick oven and let’s make pizza!
Psssst! If you live in the Chicago foodshed and want to learn more about pastured meats, butchery and responsible snout to tail eating at home and at restaurants, mark your calendar for March 19 and I’ll let you know why soon! Very exciting. Stay tuned. Don’t go away!