| NEW YORK, Sept 2
NEW YORK, Sept 2 Making sausages, pates and
cured meats at home can be tricky, but American chef Jamie
Bissonnette in his debut book, "The New Charcuterie Cookbook,"
shows their flavors are worth the time and effort.
Salumi, chorizos and other cured meats are fixtures at
Bissonnette's three popular restaurants in Boston and New York.
In May, he won a James Beard award as best U.S. Northeast
chef for his casual Italian restaurant Coppa in Boston. He also
co-owns Spanish tapas-inspired Toro in Boston and another Toro
in New York.
Bissonnette, 37, a former vegetarian who was born in
Connecticut, spoke to Reuters about the book, which will be
published later this month, and tips for making cured meats at
Q: Why did you write this book?
A: One of the favorite things is to see what I could do at
the restaurant and make them easier to do at home. I have
friends who are tattoo artists and musicians and they said, "I
want to do what you do and make what you make and know how to do
it." The key is to just take a recipe and have fun with it.
Q: What is the essential equipment you need?
A: You want to have a good meat grinder, one with a sharp
blade, not just one where you shove meat through a hole. ...
With the recipes in the book, you could get by with a lot with
what you have at home. What people are finding is that you could
have a butcher grind the meat for you.
Q: What are the keys to prepare offal?
A: Each individual offal is specific. What is the worst part
about chicken liver is that it's sometimes too 'iron-y' because
there's so much blood in them, but if you soak it in milk or
soda water, you could pull a lot of that out. It's knowing how
to take out things that are bad about an ingredient and
highlight the aspects that are good.
Q: What are your go-to ingredients?
A: I'm always looking for acid whether it's lime juice or
lemon juice or champagne vinegar to balance out fat or sugar for
more unctuousness. I love fish sauce. I love the salty and
fermented flavor. I love fresh herbs.
Q: Some people might be surprised you wrote this book and
you used to be vegetarian?
A: I had been a vegetarian for a long time and a vegan on
and off for a long time. I was told I was a good cook but I
wasn't going to be a great chef. I wasn't understanding all the
food because I wasn't eating all of it. I started eating (meat)
and I gained a lot of weight, that's for sure. It wasn't that
much shock to my body. The biggest shock was that I had to work
Q: You used be in a band. Is your cooking reflective of your
A: It's diverse. I like the influences of food from all
around the world. My record collection ranges from ska, reggae,
salsa to punk to hard core to jazz. I love soul. I feel my food
is the same way.
Coppa (yields 3-1/2 pounds/1.6 kg)
5 lb (2 kg) pork neck (ask a butcher to harvest this cut)
For the cure
1/2 cup (120 g) kosher salt
2 tbsp (30 g) espelette chili flakes
1/2 tbsp (7 g) black pepper
1-1/2 tbsp (25 g) powdered dextrose
1 tsp (5 g) curing salt no. 2
Combine salt, espelette, black pepper and dextrose with
curing salt no. 2, then divide the mixture in two.
Using one half of the mixture, rub the meat all over. Place
the meat in a nonreactive (glass or plastic) container and
refrigerate for seven days. Check on the meat every day, rubbing
with a bit more cure mix.
After seven days, rinse the coppa. Rub with the remaining
cure, then wrap in cheesecloth.
Incubate the meat for 12 hours at room temperature (70-80
degree Fahrenheit (21-26 degree Celsius).
Hang it in a curing room at 60-70 degree Fahrenheit (15-21
degree Celsius) for 190 to 200 days or until it's firm. (A
curing room is a space whose humidity and temperature can be
controlled so the meat can air dry. In Bissonnette's recipes,
coppa and other meats can be cured in the refrigerator instead
of a curing room.)
Slice thin and serve chilled or slice thick and grill to
order. This can be refrigerated, wrapped, for up to six months.
(Editing by Patricia Reaney and Jonathan Oatis)