By Chef Alexa Weeks

Most chefs I’ve met have gone through a serious cured, dried, or crafted meat phase at some point in their career. For me, it was the summer of 2011. I was introduced to the idea of nose-to-tail cookery and made everything from pancetta to bath chaps. The preparation of artisan meats is perhaps one of the greatest ways that a chef can demonstrate their culinary artistry and skill. It provides a medium for a cook’s craftsmanship to really shine through. Because some artisan meats can be complex, a novice cook may be intimidated by the process. Fear not! Simple artisan meats such as nduja, guanciale, and rillettes are ideal for beginner meat crafters. These recipes can be prepared with basic charcuterie tools and will add depth and complexity to almost any dish. 

Nduja (en-DOO-ya) is a spreadable salami that originated in southern Italy. It’s typically made from fatty pork cuts such as belly. The high level of fat gives the salami its characteristic spreadability. Nduja is packed with a Calabrian red pepper called pepperoncino and in some recipes it can comprise up to 30% of the salami. To make nduja, the ground belly is mixed with pepperoncino, cure, and a starter culture (optional). The blend is then stuffed into hog or beef casings and then hung to dry for anywhere from two to eight weeks depending on the type of casing. Because of the high fat content, nduja will not lose as much weight during the drying process. The possibilities for nduja are endless; anywhere you can spread butter, you can spread nduja. For the adventurous meat artisan, the blend of pepper used can be adapted for other cuisines. Szechuan peppercorn and ginger nduja perhaps?

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Guanciale is a cured Italian meat made from pork jowl, another deliciously fatty pork cut. The jowl should have some amount of cheek meat so that when sliced it looks layered, similar to bacon. Once the jowl is cleaned and trimmed of any gland it’s rubbed liberally with salt and other spices, traditionally pepper, thyme, fennel, and other Italian spices. The guanciale is then cured in salt for a few days or can be hung and dried for up to three weeks. Guanciale can be cut into cubes and used to sauté or sliced and added to pasta. Just like with the nduja, the spices can be switched up. Jowl rubbed with sweet and smoky paprika would make a great addition to steamed mussels or a seafood risotto.

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Rillettes are the French version of a spreadable charcuterie dish. It’s made with pork belly and shoulder that is cooked very slowly so that it doesn’t develop color or become crispy. It’s typically lightly seasoned with thyme, bay leaves, salt, pepper, and warm spices. Once the meat has slowly cooked for about four hours it can be portioned into small ramekins or mason jars. Traditionally, a small layer of fat is poured on top of the meat to seal the surface. The rillettes are then refrigerated and can be stored for up to 6 months. If you’re feeling adventurous, add Mexican oregano, cilantro, and coriander and serve with grilled corn tortillas.

For more info on artisan meats check out the articles below!

 

In These Recipes, a Dab of 'Nduja Makes All the Difference

one day ago

PEOPLE EXPECT TO EAT well at my house; I'm a culinary-school grad. But I'm also a mom with a full-time job. And after a long day I can be as lazy as anyone. Which is why I'm never without 'nduja. The spreadable salami is my favorite cook's cheat.

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Like pizza, pork, chile? Try 'nduja pizza - Gusto

one day ago

I have eaten a lot of wacky things on pizza. Fishsticks? Not on my repeat list. Corn kernels? Yes, please. Yet my first bite of 'nduja pizza at Lackawanna's The Mess Hall left me staggered. If this is an established dish, where has it been all my life? If it's...

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A spicy sausage-pâté worth shouting about

one day ago

Two of the tastiest ingredients in any traditional pantry are necessity and frugality. Some of the finest, most enduring foods in all the world's cuisines are born of just those two things: a need to use all of the beast (frugality), and the various methods of prerefrigeration preservation (necessity).

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Trend watch: 'nduja or don't cha?

one day ago

Spreadable Italian sausage 'Nduja (pronounced in-du-ya) is set to be a big hitter in food trends this year. The sausage, traditionally made in Calabria, is made from pigs' shoulder, belly and jowl as well as tripe, a sizzling combination of spices and roast peppers - you really can spread it like butter.

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Guanciale Comes to America

one day ago

Facebook just added to your Activity: This Article Hog's have faces that only a gourmand could love. Though still rare in America, cured porcine jowls have long imbued great Italian dishes with an intense earthy saltiness. The cut, known as guanciale adds more flavor to dishes like bucatini all'Amatriciana and spaghetti carbonara than even bacon or pancetta.

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Guanciale, made at home: A cure for the winter blues

one day ago

The whole three-month process started as a simple question about leftovers. Specifically, what was I going to do with the rest of the pig face that I had peeled off its skull a few months earlier? Sorry, I don't mean to be graphic.

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Pâté From the Sea

one day ago

When I lived in France I used to love watching people discover rillettes, a rustic pâté that is traditionally made by cooking pork belly or shoulder slowly in abundant fat, allowing it to cool in the fat, then raking the mixture into a spreadable paste.

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This week The Taste Team is craving pork rillettes

one day ago

I'll go to La Boulangerie, 207 Broadway, for a $10 jar of its lovely version of the rustic French spread that's perfect to pack in a picnic basket with a bottle of sancerre and a fresh baguette. The spices that flavor the meat range from traditional seasoning of thyme, garlic and bay leaves to more global influences such as Chinese five-spice powder.

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Culinary Chronicles are featured monthly articles on trending food topics, written by Symrise chefs.

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