What you thought you knew about charcuterie, is only half the sausage…
by Jack Coetzee, Kitchen Executive Chef
Charcuterie (/ʃɑrˌkuːtəˈriː) :from chair ‘flesh’ and cuit ‘cooked’) is the branch of cooking devoted to prepared meat products, such as bacon, ham, sausage, terrines, galantines, ballotines, pâtés, and confit, primarily from pork.
Without getting too technical and waffling on about specifics, the primary purpose of these above-stated methods was to simply preserve the meat. One has to bear in mind that the fridge was still a mere four hundred-odd years off. As a result of this rather clever use of salt sugar and dehydrated spices, we have a wide range of mouth-watering options.
At Summerfields two things captured our imagination when we had a look at this project; the first is sustainability. We continue to strive to become less dependent on outside suppliers, which is what continues to make us a unique destination. It also give us chefs more control of what we want the final product to resemble. The second was the opportunity to master the craft that kept many a generation ticking. It is an important part of a chef’s repertoire to master techniques of old; this enables us to come up with something unique to Summerfields.
At the moment we make a small range of charcuterie.
Black pepper and honey bacon: this is a play on the classic maple bacon that is famous in America. We have used raw honey harvested on the farm as well as black pepper to give it a spicy twist. Only pork belly is used because of the fat to meat ratio. It is cured for 10 days and cold smoked with macadamia shells.
Fennel cured pancetta: pancetta is of Italian origin. We use pork belly with a predominantly fennel spice cure, the liquorice flavours work well with pork. It’s cured for 10 days. And hung for 2 months. It can be served raw or cooked.
Parma ham: technically speaking we can’t call our ham ‘Parma ham’ because we are based in Hazyview and not Parma in Italy. But this method involves using the hind legs of the pig. Because of the size we have to cure it for 2 months, whilst being weighted down. This gives a rectangular shape which makes it more aesthetically pleasing. After which it is hung for about 10 months before it can be used.
Lonza and coppa: I have put these two together because they are frighteningly similar. Traditionally coppa is made from pork neck and lonza from the loin. But nowadays the loin is used for both. The process is the same, however the spice make up is different. Both meats are cured for 10 to 12 days, then hung up in either muslin cloth or beef intestines. Covering the meat is more to honour the traditional method of protecting the meat from file and other pests.
Chorizo: a dried sausage made up of back fat, pork mince, paprika and chillies. It is put into a sausage casing. Either natural or fabricated casing can be used. We prefer the natural because we are purists. At this time it is hung until dried out, normally 10-14 days. It can be eaten raw or cooked.
We are working to bring you a charcuterie board that was made entirely at Summerfields by our very own chefs. So we encourage you to join us at River Café to enjoy the fruits of our labour!