Talking In the Charcuterie With Fatted Calf's Toponia Miller & Taylor Boetticher
In the Charcuterie (Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.) is a book that is as beautiful as it is detailed: 125 recipes with step-by-step tips on how exactly to make and cure sausage, salumi, stuffed roasts, pate, confits and other meaty goods. The authors of this newly published book are the husband and wife team Taylor Boetticher and Toponia Miller, who own and run The Fatted Calf meat emporiums locally in Napa (Oxbow Market) and San Francisco (Hayes Valley) -- stores that are media and financial success stories in their own right.
In The Charcuterie
With the publication of this book, SFoodie Editor Anna Roth and I both wondered if home cooks will really take to actually making tonno di maiale -- lean pork loin accented by fresh Bay leaves; or beef oxtail terrine with piment d'Espelette. Time and space are a consideration in small apartment dwellings -- or so the excuse list begins. Apparently patience is needed, as well, as I found out from the two chef-authors. Is this a tasty-looking cookbook to have on the shelf, just in case? Or to look at the pretty pictures while saying, "Yeah, I could totally make that"?
Maybe it's both, but I already have seen a few mentions of In the Charcuterie home cooking parties popping up online. While I ponder which recipe to tackle in the meantime, Boetticher and Miller granted SFoodie a wish: to do some online hand-holding for cooks of varying stripes. Their comments have been edited for clarity.
SFoodie: This is a comprehensive book. What recipes are your favorites?
We love all of our children but there are definitely some that are a pleasure to cook, like the pig head pozole and others, such as the headcheese, that are more of a labor of love.
SFoodie: What dish would you recommend for a charcuterie newbie? And the more experienced home cook?
We included many simple recipes such as the lamb rib chops with ras el hanout and pork brochettes with herbes de provence which help one get a feel for cutting and seasoning meat. If one is ready to try their hand at charcuterie, we'd recommend the rabbit rillettes or duck liver mousse with armagnac cream which can be made easily in a home kitchen. Guanciale is a great starting place for someone who wants to try their hand at curing meat. For the more practiced home cook looking for a challenge there are recipes such as the blood sausage with caramelized apples and cognac, cou farci, or duck terrine with brandied prunes that involve multiple steps and cooking processes.
SFoodie: Are there any dishes that did not make it into the book? Why? Recipe testing can yield big surprises when the jump from professional kitchen to home is made -- any disasters?
Nearly all of the recipes included get plenty of practice on a weekly basis at The Fatted Calf and we had a great team of home recipe testers that helped us to revise the recipes to make them more accessible to the home cook. We did decide in the end to omit our beloved mortadella recipe since it is best made using equipment that most home cooks cannot access.
SFoodie: What advice would you give to those looking to do charcuterie at home as a hobby? And as a profession?
For those who want to pursue charcuterie as either a hobby or profession, you will need plenty of practice and patience.