Cured meat products arose from the need for preservation, in a time when cooking and refrigeration were not always available. Today, charcuterie is an embodiment of art in the kitchen, combining precision, balance, patience, and creativity; an economy of ingredients, as poetry is an economy of words. The confluence of these elements, along with the purest of ingredients, can enable anyone to craft cured meats in their home.
Pure Charcuterie is a practical and artistic look at the techniques for curing meat at home both as a creative hands-on craft and as a fantastic and sustainable way to preserve highly valuable food. This accessible, beautiful, visual guide walks the reader through the process of making charcuterie, including:
- sourcing ingredients
- clear explanations of charcuterie technique
- creative recipes balancing tradition and invention
- smoking meats and building your own smoker
The analogies drawn between art and food, along with creative and accessible photographic discussions of charcuterie technique, make this book an essential primer on the basics of charcuterie: the mystery, the science, the art, and the technique. Ideal for home cooks working in small spaces, Pure Charcuterie is a must-have for experienced and new cooks alike and any home artisan.
About the Author
Over the past 15 years, Meredith Leigh has worked as a farmer, butcher, chef, teacher, non-profit executive director, and writer, all in pursuit of sustainable food. She has developed a farmer co-op, founded and catalyzed non-profit ventures, grown vegetables, flowers, and meats, owned and managed a retail butcher shop and restaurant, and more. She is the author of The Ethical Meat Handbook: A Complete Guide to Home Butchery, Charcuterie, and Cooking for the Conscious Omnivore.
Table of Contents
1 On Intention SynergySourcingSafety / How It WorksEquipment and Supplies
2 On Precision Sausage PrimerSausage ProcessingApple Horseradish SausageMiso & Pickled Ginger SausageRabbit AndouilleButtermilk Boudin Blanc
3 On Suspension The TerrineChutney & Confit TerrinePâté of ThirdsWorking (Wo)man's Lunchbox Pâté60-20 SuspensionPâté GratinMortadella
4 On Wholeness Dry CuringWet Muscle CuringBaconCorned Beef & Beef PastramiLardoTasso HamPork Shank ConfitCoppa or CapicolaBlack Pepper Culatello
5 On Collaboration Fermented Dry SausagesMaking a Charcuterie CabinetStarter Cultures and Beneficial MoldsKoji CharcuterieGrowing KojiChile, Mustard & Pickled Celery SalamiCalabrese-Style Salami with Vanilla & LardoNdujaKoji Venison BresaolaFive-Spice Koji Lomo
6 On Culmination Cooking SausagesSmoking MeatBuilding Your Own Cold SmokerServing and Storing CharcuterieAdditional RecipesHomemade HorseradishHomemade Miso SaucePickled GingerFermented Sweet PepperPickled Celery LeavesFennel PicklesCandied Jalapeño PepperPimento Cheese Spread
ResourcesAcknowledgmentsAbout the AuthorA Note About the Publisher
What People are Saying About This
"There are plenty of books about charcuterie out there, but none couple technical know-how with the eloquent approach to language and learning that Leigh employs. Making charcuterie is indeed an art form. Meredith's artful writing inspires us to be that kind of artist. Her thoughtful approach to instruction makes it possible to actually be one. I will refer my own students to this book again and again for that reason." Camas Davis Portland Meat Collective, Meat Collective Alliance
"Meredith Leigh does something with Pure Charcuterie that most chefs strive a lifetime to docombines the worlds of ethical meat production with innovative ingredients and techniques such as koji curing and wild game recipes. Pure Charcuterie is a must-own for amateur and professional butchers alike." Chef Clark Barlowe Heirloom Restaurant, Charlotte, NC
"In this beautifully rendered book, Meredith Leigh takes us on a poetic journey through the world of charcuterie showing us step by step the key concepts and principles of home curing for the novice. I'm excited to embark on the journey she lays out in this amazing book and I hope to meet you along the way. I guarantee you it will be a rewarding one, as I don't know of anyone that can make a description of making mortadella sound poetic, funny, emotionally engaging and most importantly to the point." Rey Tagle Instagram: @home_charcuterie
"This book will make you hungry. It'll make you dig out the meat grinder someone gave you years ago. It'll make you want to change the world. Meredith Leigh is one of the foremost young authorities on sustainable meat. Her latest book, woven with recipes, philosophy, and poetry, is so much more than a step-by-step on charcuterie. Read it, and you'll see that the ingredients of good food extend far beyond your kitchen." Rebecca Martin Managing Editor, Mother Earth News
"Pulling no punches, Meredith Leigh balances the scientific "whys" of curing fundamentals, food safety and sanitation, while encouraging curiosity and flavor artistry. Her prose make will you feel like you have a teacher and mentor beside you each step of the way to create salty, fatty, delicious, pure charcuterie." Tanya Cauthen Owner, founder, butcher, Charcutier, Belmont Butchery, Richmond, VA
" Pure Charcuterie is the book I've been waiting my whole career for. Meredith takes an approach to creating charcuterie and guiding you through the process that I've never seen before in print. . . . This is a book for advanced professionals and beginners alike. There has not yet been a book about charcuterie that speaks a more resonate and relatable tone." Jeremy Umanksy Larder Master/Owner, Larder Delicatessen & Bakery
"In Pure Charcuterie , Meredith Leigh takes the reader on a meaty, and yet artistic journey into the wonderful world of curing meats. This book should be on the pantry shelf of every meat loving maker out there – and even if you don't envision creating charcuterie, Leigh's prose, detail and passionate voice will help you understand the history and process behind the textures and flavors you so savor." Hank Will Editorial Director, Mother Earth News
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Not merely a cookbook, how-to manual, or memoir, “Pure Charcuterie” by Meredith Leigh is all three and much more. It’s a delightful afternoon of ruminating about what is wrong — and right in our world, an eye-opening jaunt through a place unfamiliar to most, the imaginings of what fantastic flavors we could summon for our tables given an unlimited expanse of time and talent. Leigh begins her book with a lovely argument for the value of growing what we eat and learning to preserve it. “I started growing food, and that has become the grandest embodiment of real art that I had ever encountered. It still is.” She follows with six chapters that start big picture but are expertly carved into practical reality before they close. In “On Collaboration,” she writes: “Embedded into every inch of dynamism that we can see with the naked eye, from the soil under the pig’s feet to the feed stuffs, to the muscle and the fat and the earth-made salt, there are unseen forces colluding.” By chapter’s end, we are building our own charcuterie cabinet and growing beneficial molds. If you’ve ever wanted to cure your own bacon or brine a corned beef, stir up duck pate or churn out a rabbit sausage, you can learn how in this book. But “Pure Charcuterie’s” brilliance lies in the fact that you just might enjoy the ideas, the challenges and the techniques presented here even if you never intend to craft your own mortadella. If you’re like me, you’ll be moved by Leigh’s commitment, wowed by her expertise and really glad you read Pure Charcuterie — even if the only recipes you actually make will be the fennel pickles, fig chutney and pimento cheese.