This week, I’m on a bit of a charcuterie kick -- though, truthfully, when am I not? I love salumi and preserved meats, and almost always have some lying around. I even made sausages for several years, and did I mention that it’s my retirement plan as well?
That is, of course, something in the future, and something that may very well remain as only a plan, but I do want to start working with preserved meats again, if only as a hobbyist. A friend of mine has had brilliant success with his charcuterie and that has motivated me to take a new look at everything inside a casing, which, in turn, has led me to The Art of Charcuterie by John Kowalski and The Culinary Institute of America.
This tome is all about sausages, of course, but it’s really so much more. With chapters on equipment and sanitation, seasonings, preservatives, and even an in-depth look at the make-up and structure of meat, this is as much a textbook -- as the CIA imprimatur hints at -- as it is a cookbook.
Once you do get down to the recipes, and there are tons of them, they’re not only for sausages. Yes, there is an entire chapter on sausages, but also sections looking at forcemeats; pates; smoking, curing and brining meats; as well as one for condiments. It’s a wonderfully complete and detailed look at the world of charcuterie that is as appealing a read, if you love charcuterie as much as I do, as it is as a reference.
Cruising through the chapters makes me want to get started making sausages right away, or at least daydreaming about a sausage crawl through Italy and Germany (which is such a stunning idea that I’m actually trying to work that out for this summer!).
Getting started here might be a whole lot easier than you think, as there are great, detailed, step-by-step photo-montages that help illustrate the detailed techniques used in the recipes. And don’t fear about what can go wrong, or what might be going into that sausage. Everything is well covered here: from the explanation of fermented sausages and how to prepare them safely to exactly which cuts of meat will make the best products.
Now, you might be think that this all sounds difficult and involved, but it really isn’t! Anybody can get started with easier recipes like Breakfast Sausages or Gravlax. Yes, these are simple and, with the recipes in The Art of Charcuterie, foolproof. So, take a look and tell me this doesn’t whet your appetite!
Buy The Art of Charcuterie
Go to page 2 for the recipes for Breakfast Sausage and Gravlax.