Where to Find Pig Ear Terrines, Spicy Nduja and Other Adventurous Charcuterie in Dallas

from Dallas Morning News / June 6, 2017 / Coryanne Ettiene, Special Contributor

If you haven't already, it's time to get on board the charcuterie craze sweeping Dallas. Not too long ago you needed a vacation to Europe or some hidden neighborhood in New York City to find mouth-watering charcuterie. But now, thanks to a growing number of butchers and chefs with a culinary curiosity for this time-honored technique, it is not hard to find a shop or restaurant featuring charcuterie with enthusiasm.

Jack Matusek, 25, of Raw Republic Meats is a native Texan from Yoakum who spent the last year studying the art of butchery and charcuterie from some of the biggest names in the industry. He is now completing his butcher training in Europe with the aim of returning to Texas to open his own shop in Fort Worth and a wholesale charcuterie program on his family farm in Yoakum.

Butcher Jack Matusek of Raw Republic Meats (Raw Republic Meats)

Butcher Jack Matusek of Raw Republic Meats (Raw Republic Meats)

"A big difference between Europe and the United States when you start talking charcuterie is prevalence," Matusek says. "Europeans initially preserved their meat using these methods before the invention of refrigeration. You can find some form of charcuterie or cured meat on just about every lunch table in France or Italy. Charcuterie is a staple in the European diet while it is emerging as a specialty item here in the states."

For him, charcuterie is "just like wine, certain tastes or hints in charcuterie develop because of the weather, protein source, or storage and curing conditions."

From spicy, tangy salamis to full-bodied, nutty pates, charcuterie embodies a wide-reaching plethora of incredible flavors and textures that whisper tasting notes specific to the terrain and environment it is produced in.

Speck Alto Adige dry-cured smoked prosciutto from Jimmy's Food Store in Dallas.  (Ben Torres/Special Contributor)

Speck Alto Adige dry-cured smoked prosciutto from Jimmy's Food Store in Dallas. 

(Ben Torres/Special Contributor)


Branching out

With so many old-world favorites and emerging flavors to choose from, Matusek says you can't go wrong with a quality prosciutto or culatello, both products from the ham that get aged for two or more years. 

"With a curing cycle that long, some incredible flavors develop that aren't found in other types of short-term cured meats," he says.

If you are looking for something that will add a kick to your board, Matusek is in love with nduja, a spicy, spreadable salami. He recently dined at Knife Dallas and highly recommends their nduja and other charcuterie.

And for the adventurous eater, Matusek suggests lardo, a cured and seasoned back fat sliced paper thin.

"It's a delicious addition to a charcuterie board made from a part of the pig that usually gets overlooked," he says.

Experimental Chefs

The rising popularity of charcuterie in Dallas is due in great part to an emerging number of local chefs who are experimenting with curing meats. Start at Lucia in the Bishop Arts District and order their salumi misti — a tasting of house-made cured meats such as lardo, nduja and rabbit terrine. 

Pig ear terrine is cut at Blind Butcher by chef Oliver Sitrin. (Tom Fox/Staff Photographer)

Pig ear terrine is cut at Blind Butcher by chef Oliver Sitrin. (Tom Fox/Staff Photographer)

Pop over to The Blind Butcher in Lower Greenville for another take on in-house cured meats. Chef Oliver Sitrin's menu is what he calls "worldly local," adapting with the seasons and sourcing local to match his global palate. 

For Sitrin, the charcuterie trend appeals to the artisan, small-batch consumer that is gaining momentum. It's thanks to the "animal movement that is helping people become aware of waste, but also moving them to try different parts of the animal they may not have been willing to try before," he says.

Blind Butcher chef Oliver Sitrin prepared a charcuterie board full of (clockwise from lower left) pork rillette, pork rinds, carrot chutney, head cheese, lost ruby ranch (fresh goat cheeses), pig ear terrine, duck-chicken-duck pate, pickled green beans, lardo, candied pecans, beef-pork-duck pate, pacha, and bacon bratwurst and mustard. (Tom Fox/Staff Photographer)

Blind Butcher chef Oliver Sitrin prepared a charcuterie board full of (clockwise from lower left) pork rillette, pork rinds, carrot chutney, head cheese, lost ruby ranch (fresh goat cheeses), pig ear terrine, duck-chicken-duck pate, pickled green beans, lardo, candied pecans, beef-pork-duck pate, pacha, and bacon bratwurst and mustard. (Tom Fox/Staff Photographer)

"Recently we have had more people asking for fun things like head cheese, rillettes and anything pastrami," he adds. "We do a few different types of bacon, and people seem to really enjoy anything you can turn into bacon these days." 

His menu reads like a love letter to cured meats. It's reminiscent of old world flavors but with a contemporary flair that draws you in and sparks a hungry meat-eater to try everything.

The charcuterie case at Jimmy's Food Store in Dallas. (Ben Torres/Special Contributor)

The charcuterie case at Jimmy's Food Store in Dallas. (Ben Torres/Special Contributor)


Try it at home

For those looking to embrace charcuterie at home, Jimmy's Fine Food Store in East Dallas has been dishing up charcuterie long before it was a buzzword on the tip of every foodie's tongue. 

Visit on a Saturday afternoon and you will find yourself sharing a line with locals hungry for smoked prosciutto or Beretta spicy salami. Their old-fashioned deli counter packed with a huge selection of charcuterie, cheese and Italian delicacies is a must for those looking to create the perfect board.

Local butchers such as Deep Cuts in North Dallas and others also carry a wide range of dried and cured meats, as do cheese shops such as Scardello.

Beretta spicy sausage from Jimmy's Food Store. (Ben Torres/Special Contributor)

Beretta spicy sausage from Jimmy's Food Store. (Ben Torres/Special Contributor)


A learning environment

You can always try your hand at curing your own meats. There is an emerging number of home cooks and hobby butchers that are learning the art of charcuterie with the hope of crafting their own spin on traditional cured meats inspired by restaurant boards and deli counter finds. 

Matusek isn't the only chef passionate about educating consumers and chefs on the art of charcuterie. A variety of workshops by trained chefs and butchers are appearing across the country. You don't have to attend full-blown culinary school to get a taste of the cure.

Cuisine University held a charcuterie and salumi workshop in Dallas in April taught by chef Brian Polcyn, author of  Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing.

"The recent popularity for charcuterie has been going on for about seven years, maybe a little longer," says Vic Rose of Cuisine University. "Chef Polcyn's book was the one book that really got many of the young chefs interested in charcuterie." 

You could also head to Austin and visit Salt & Time, a butcher shop and restaurant, for classes on meat curing basics and sausage-making. 

Coryanne Ettiene is a McKinney freelance writer. / Dallas Morning News / June 6, 2017

 

 

Cochon555 Houston

We carried the full Swabian Hall on our shoulders into Hughes Manor where the pop-up butcher shop would take place.  The Houston Cochon555 crowd had just finished the chefs' competition where Manabu Horiuchi from Kata Robata took home the "W" for his six-course presentation highlighting Chubby Dog Farm's Mangalista Red Wattle Cross.

For those of you not familiar with Cochon555, this is a movement to preserve and promote heritage breeds of pork and family farming by hosting culinary events and chef competitions in the major cities across the US.

Preparing for the demo - all knives got a new edge and the cleaver made an appearance.

Preparing for the demo - all knives got a new edge and the cleaver made an appearance.

Time to cut!

Time to cut!

The pig was gently set down on the two joined Boos cutting tables which gave way to an eruption of iPhone cameras flashing and clicking - I’m sure not many of the onlookers had ever seen a full pig carcass before. To be honest, I’d never seen a pig carcass like this either so the first few cuts were a bit foreign to me. Most of the time, carcasses are split symmetrically down the backbone – making transport, storage, and butchery easier. To truly show the crowd of food enthusiasts what butchery is all about, I started with a complete eviscerated (minus the insides) pig carcass. I would also be without the use of a band saw – an extraordinarily precise tool when cutting through bones. In its place, a 27-inch bone saw would have to work through the bones manually. As a backup, I brought my vintage cleaver as well.

Brady Lowe, the founder of Cochon555,  started the demo by telling a bit about the Piggy Bank, the focal point of all the fundraising that weekend. Piggy Bank has one simple goal in mind - helping family farmers. The organization is a dedicated to current or prospective farmers to help them get a kickstart: breeding stock, business plans, and other valuable business information  - anything a pig farmer needs to get going.  

After a quick summary of my travels, I handed the mic back over to Brady and started cutting.

After a quick summary of my travels, I handed the mic back over to Brady and started cutting.

Brady offered me the mic, I gave my short elevator pitch, and then dove in. Splitting a whole carcass manually wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be – I took off the hind legs first, split them, then did the same with the shoulders. The loin gave me a bit of trouble – it was long, and my saw blade only gave me about three to four inches to move. 

Let me stop here to tell you about Houston's climate. If you haven't been there in the summertime, believe me when I say the heat and humidity are unbearable. Just before I took the stage, Houston received a summer shower followed by intense sunshine. The humidity ramped up and was so thick; I could have cut it with my cleaver. I was soaked in sweat. My shirt was sticking to my body, and little sweat beads covered my face. I had to step away several times to wipe my brow and get a swig of water.

But, back to my story... I was relieved the carcass breakdown was behind me, but quickly realized I would need a lot more help to break the primals down into shop cuts in the allotted time.  Luckily, good friends, Catherine and Tito Manterola were waiting and jumped right in to help.  Over the next hour, we cut, wrapped, and tagged the entire Swabian Hall for retail sale. Everything was on display: bones for stock, ears for dog treats, skin for soups - even the brains were snapped up for a saute. 

A big thanks to Catherine and Tito Manterola for setting up to the butcher's block and getting dirty with me. I couldn't have done it without y'all!

A big thanks to Catherine and Tito Manterola for setting up to the butcher's block and getting dirty with me. I couldn't have done it without y'all!

A bottom round roast just before being wrapped up and taken home.

A bottom round roast just before being wrapped up and taken home.


A sold pork coppa.

A sold pork coppa.

I’m honored to have been apart of this year’s Cochon555 Houston. Brady and his amazing staff created an enjoyable gastronomic gathering. A special shoutout to:

Allegra - who personally helped coordinate the pop-up butcher shop. She was on her A game, and everything ran flawlessly. 

Calvin and Karyn Medders - owners of Chubby Dog Farm, a Mangalista-heritage cross pork farm in Grapeland, Texas. I always enjoy the opportunity to talk to producers and learn so much from their stories and their passion for providing excellent quality food. 

Jeff Weinstock - owner of Cake & Bacon, a small wholesale bakehouse and butchery commissary that delivers no-less-than-perfect breads, pastries, pies, charcuterie, sausage, pasture-raised products to restaurants and retailers throughout Houston. His display was covered in a wide variety of cured meats - the spiced coppa being my favorite. 

Geoffrey and Renee Barry -  of The Barry Farm in Needville, Texas who raise heritage Red Wattle. It was my pleasure to have met another passionate farmer here in South Texas.   

Catherine -  my publicist, my partner in crime for any culinary adventure, and the ultimate networker.  She knows everybody and if she doesn't she will before the day is done!

Morgan Weber - A BIG shout out to Morgan Webber of Agricole Hospitality who got me hooked up with this sweet gig. I also had the chance to check out one of his Houston establishments, Coltivare, and it was an absolute blast. If you live in Houston and haven't eaten here, you need to rethink your life.

Dîner en Blanc

Let's revisit France, because, well - it was awesome.

As I remember it...Maurine had prepared a wonderful salmon rillette, along with crusty bread and little bite-sized quiches, all of which she tucked away in a picnic basket in the backseat of the Volkswagen. I was in the driver’s seat and we were headed to a “diner en blanc” as invited guests of Kate Hill.  As you remember, Maurine was my gracious host who I lived with in Nerac, a small French town located between Dominique’s farm and Kate’s house at Camont. She was an Arizona native but flourished as a real estate agent in California before retiring to Gascony. Since I had no idea where we were going, we were to follow Bill and Taff, two Canadian expats, who coincidentally had also retired to Gascony.

Starting to see a retirement trend?

After an hour long drive, we began making our way up a massive hill, on top of which, laid an incredible vineyard and chateau owned by two wine-making sisters. As soon as we parked, I realized the view alone was worth the hour long drive.  I also realized that not everyone followed the dress code – there were a few oddballs that didn’t wear all white – um... that would be me. 

View to the East from atop the hill.

View to the East from atop the hill.

The Southern view from the hill.

The Southern view from the hill.

The hilltop view looking to the North over the  grape vines.

The hilltop view looking to the North over the  grape vines.

Sorry, I had been living out of a backpack and a small leather duffel for the past five months. My white linen summer suit was the next outfit on the packing list, but I ran out of space for it in my pack. 
All the old folks brought out their best whips - it was one hell of a car show!

All the old folks brought out their best whips - it was one hell of a car show!

Other than myself,  everyone else was dressed to the nines in their best white linen.  Some even cruised up in their old classic whips.

I had to circle back after appetizers for some close up pictures.

I had to circle back after appetizers for some close up pictures.

Not a shabby backdrop for a French auto show!

Not a shabby backdrop for a French auto show!

Just outside the chateau, was a large motte of shade trees underneath which most of the festivities lay: a makeshift stage harbored a couple of musicians, a small wine stand where the sisters had set up their wares, and tables, ladened with food, wine, and candles.

Everybody is busy setting up their dining areas and my buddy Dylan is posing for the camera.

Everybody is busy setting up their dining areas and my buddy Dylan is posing for the camera.

Dylan and I looking like something the cat dragged in.

Dylan and I looking like something the cat dragged in.

An old pigeonette converted into guest quarters.

An old pigeonette converted into guest quarters.

Kate and more of the expat group had already arrived and had begun setting up our table. I added Maurine's picnic basket to the others just as the two sisters gave a welcome toast from the stage.  The "diner en blanc"  had officially started.  It was so epically French and everything you would imagine it to be:  good friends, great food, old wine, fairytale setting, and fresh white linen.  

Time to feast!

Time to feast!

Maurine's salmon.

Maurine's salmon.

The French version of the potluck dinner.

The French version of the potluck dinner.

We watched these two couples all night - this seemed to be a regular affair for them.

We watched these two couples all night - this seemed to be a regular affair for them.

It was quite the picturesque evening. The laid back casual elegance of it all was what France does best. I promised myself I would drag all of my Texan friends out to the ranch and do something like this.  

Something tells me, it just won't be like France.