When Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn published Charcuterie in 2005 it changed everything. Every restaurant in the country had a copy in the kitchen. It was a relief to finally have a guide, to have a questions answered and guidelines to help cooks along. It demystified the process and gave us all something new to add to our repertoire. It was an instant standard and cooks discussed it with fire in their eyes. It is a tome and will remain an important part of my upbringing as a cook. As the owner of a butcher shop, I have suggested Charcuterie to countless culinary civilians looking to make bacon, corned beef or paté. Often they come back looking to purchase jowls for guanciale or an eye round for bresaola. I’ve sold countless pork collars for coppa and have even sold a few
whole hams for a few folks ambitious enough to try their hand at prosciutto. Salumi, their newest collaboration opens up the playing field even further. Cooks now have the tools to make anything we want from fresh sausage and paté to the ethereal Culatello. I only hope that as cooks of every ilk will look at more than just the recipes and understand why Ruhlman and Polcyn took on these projects. That salumi starts with a pig.
Salumi, the new book by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn is dedicated to their mothers for teaching them, “by example, the love of cooking.” The idea of family teaching each other the joy of food and cooking is the best example of the importance of Salumi. Dry curing sausages, salting and hanging hams and coppas is, first and foremost, a tradition before it is dinner. The regional variations of different cured meats speak to the personal, familial nature of salumi and this book, while thorough in its measurements encourages you to try, perhaps a Javanese Long Pepper instead of regular black pepper. Understand this, and your adventure into dry-curing will make a lot more sense. It will have meaning. They are encouraging you to make these things your own. To start a tradition.
On Friday, October 19th I will have the honor of hosting Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn in celebration of their new book, Salumi. I will be butchering a Catalpa Grove Berkshire hog as described in Salumi and they will be discussing the hows and whys of what I am doing and how it relates to the craft of salumi. They will be available to sign books and answer questions. The event will be held at Floriole Bakery and Cafe at 7pm. Chef Polcyn will be providing his own salumi to sample and Virtue Cider will be supplying libations. Tickets are $95 (includes a copy of the book) and can be purchased over the phone (773-687-8280) or in person at the shop. Availability is extremely limited. The ticket price will cover our costs and any additional funds will be offered to a student at Schoolcraft College as a scholarship. Additionally, I will be giving away 10 spots to the event. In a tweet (140 characters to @butcherlarder) tell of the first time you realized food mattered. I’m not looking for sustainability cheerleaders or tale of the first time you cooked something sous vide. I want to hear about you standing on a stepstool to reach the counter and work side by side with your grandma and aunt to make the family ravioli. The first time you made Grandma’s Sunday gravy for your family and knew the tradition would live on. I want to hear about how food brings joy, because if it didn’t, if we only ate to survive, Charcuterie and Salumi would have died in the New World. But it didn’t.