Chapter 10 an introduction to charcuterie


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Chapter 10 an introduction to charcuterie

  1. 1. CHAPTER 10: INTRODUCTION TO CHARCUTERIE Charcuterie has come a long way since the medieval days in France, when the term referred to products of the butchers shop. Charcuterie is the art of transforming pork into various other products. Derived from the words chair and cuit, it literally means cooked meat. The origin of the process goes back several hundreds of years ago to 1500 BC During the height of the Roman Empire. Sausages became very popular. The Romans enjoyed pork products that were often flavored with pine nuts, black pepper and bay leaves. Sausages were also featured at the fabled pagan banquets and one Christian emperor even went to the extent of having them banned. This of course led to the illegal production of charcuterie, which in turn caused illness, sickness and even death. In the Middle Ages, strict separation between fisheries, slaughterhouses, butchers and prepared meat shops was enforced in order to control disease. Not until the 16thC did the charcutiers, as these cooks were known, legally obtain the right to butcher their own pigs and sell both raw and cooked pork products. Charcutiers were permitted to sell salted herrings during the period of lent, the time Christians have to abstain from meat. As legal restrictions eased and other meats became more abundant and available, charcutiers included them in their repertoire. Slowly, fish and vegetables also showed up in the products. Charcuterie has come a long way since those times. No longer is it limited to just pork products, but instead, the word is used in a broader sense to represent a method and style of cooking as well as a manner of serving the food. International and ethnic influences have broadened the scope of charcuterie so that today it comprises a wide variety of foods. Savory pies come in all kind of shapes and sizes. Sausages are now being made out of fish and vegetables. Meats as well as fish and vegetables are stuffed and poached to become galantines or are roasted into ballotines. There are dessert timbales….the gastronomic possibilities are endless. Charcuterie is one of the most versatile and adaptable cooking methods. It lends itself to an innovative approach to cooking. There is nothing rigid complicated or exact about it. Once you are familiar with the fundamentals, you can invent your own specialties using the ingredients that are available or that are in season at the market. Commercially, making your own charcuterie will help you control costs, assure high quality and serve dishes that are quite out of the ordinary. There are no rules to cooking charcuterie, the 1
  2. 2. only imperative is fresh ingredients of high quality. Charcuterie products can be served morning, noon or night; for breakfast, lunch or dinner and even as snacks with cocktails. They can be served as appetizers or as a main course, a side dish or a snack. Although they are invariably eaten slightly chilled, some could be equally delicious when eaten warm or hot. Vernon Coelho ihm mumbai 2007-08 2