Charcuterie: Bacon, Sausage, + Rillettes!!!!



As more and more consumers and restaurants are purchasing whole, 1/2, or 1/4 animals, more chefs are looking for employees with some butchering and preservation skills. Manna's Culinary Arts Department lucked out when Neal Drysdale agreed to teach a class on charcuterie. Neal Drysdale, Chef De Cuisine of The Strater Hotel is leading the way in the local meats movement. As a Board Member of Local Brands Cooperative, Neal works hard to make local + regional meat accessible to restauranteurs and consumers. 

Charcuterie, or preserved prepared meats, are growing in popularity and are a great addition to a new chef's toolbox. But is Charcuterie a new skill? Absolutely not! Charcuterie has been around since the first century AD and was an effective way to preserve meats pre-refrigeration.  Charcuterie is a great and diverse way to prepare meats from a whole animal. But first, let's talk about why!

Why do chef's buy local whole animals rather than individual cuts?

1. Freshness + Flavor - Fresh local meats have better + fresher flavors (even rapidly cooled local meats hold onto their juices + flavor better). Once chef's create a relationship with local farmers, it may also become easier to attain hard to find products or quantities. 

2. Affordability - Buying whole animals makes it more affordable but takes more labor on the part of the chef. While at the same time the chef can make the cuts that they want and sell. Local chefs who purchase whole animals are finding that they can offer better meats to consumers at a lower price than what it would cost to purchase premium individual cuts from distributors. 

3. Ethics - Chef's are able to see how humanely local meats are produced. They can find out what they eat, where they roam, and ultimately how they die. Additionally, chefs are making decisions for consumers about energy usage, grazing techniques, methane gases, and numerous other food system ethics.

4. Diversity of Product - Chefs and consumers have the opportunity to be creative with offal and other parts that are not always available. Chefs are able to purchase something other than the most common varietals as well. Much of the pork sold in the US comes from the same pig breed. Why not try something different?

Now that you know the whys, let's talk more about charcuterie. Different types of Charcuterie include:

  • sausage
  • bacon
  • rilletes
  • pates
  • gelatins
  • head cheese
  • prosciutto
  • hams 

And many many many more, think NY Deli on steroids!

The Culinary students learned how to create rilletes (potted meats), cure bacon, and grind and mix sausage. They will take the recipes and education on local meats to their restaurants where they are currently interning or working. Thanks Neal!