The word Charcuterie comes from the French words chair, meaning "flesh," and cuit, meaning "cooked" but is now understood as the collective term for cured and specialist meats from Germany, Spain, France, Italy and now, Britain!
So how is British charcuterie different? In essence, it's not!
Elias Cairo, founder of Olympia Provisions in Oregon USA, defines modern charcuterie as "value-added meat......where something is added, be it salt or heat, to enhance flavour and prolong shelf life."
Each nation and indeed region, has it's favourite flavourings and ways of eating charcuterie. However the process, it's best practice and the technical challenges facing charcutiers remain the same.
The difference then, is in the quality and taste. Britain undoubtedly has the best livestock and the highest animal welfare standards in the world - it stands to reason that our meat products can be the best too! We use 100% British meats for all of our products, sourced as locally as possible. Our pork and duck are Free Range, free to roam and see the light of day. Our Native British Beef is grass fed and reared just across the county border in neighbouring Leicestershire.
Now of course the quality will vary from meat producer to meat producer, from butcher to butcher and from charcutier to charcutier. This is why, from the outset, we have made choices that prioritise quality over cost and ensure a transparent supply chain from farm to fork. Our three core principles have always been Provenance, High Animal Welfare Standards and of course Great Taste. You can read more about our ethos here.
So, let's look at each item on our British Charcuterie menu.
Breaking it down in to 3 sections, we create Bacons, Salami and Specialist Air-dried Meats.
Bacon is generally understood as cured meat from the back or belly of the pig but in our case also includes Guanciale - cured pig cheek (it’s name is derived from “guancia” meaning cheek in Italian).
Once cured, our Pancetta and Guanciale are seasoned with a mix of spices including fennel which gives another dimension to the salty-sweet flavour.
Our bacon products include:
- Braunston Breakfast Bacon – following a simple curing process and short drying period, this thick cut, award winning dry-cured bacon is perfect with eggs and mushrooms
- Pancetta - seasoned, hung and air-dried to intensify the flavours and create an entirely different texture that cooks beautifully. Try our lardons as a topping for soups, baked potatoes or salads for a hit of salty goodness.
- Guanciale - seasoned, hung and air-dried like the Pancetta but being taken from the cheek - a very active muscle - the texture and way the fat renders down is quite different. Used traditionally in carbonara most people find Guanciale richer and deeper in flavour than pancetta.
All our bacons are classed as raw meat so will need cooking before eating.
Salami are traditionally made of pork which go through a curing and fermentation period before slowly air-drying and maturing - processes that help to preserve the meat. We encourage the development of mould on the surface of our Classic Salami which not only helps further with preservation, but enhances the look, the taste and the whole eating experience.
Our Classic Salami are made in the traditional way with natural casings (ox middles) whilst our smaller Snacking Salami use modern collagen casings to ensure a uniform size and shape (all the casings are edible).
As with all of our products, preservatives are kept to an absolute minimum - we don't believe in extending shelf life at the expense of flavour or quality.
We currently produce three flavours of salamis:
- Garlic and Caraway
- Fennel and Coriander
- Chilli and Paprika
Our Specialist Air-dried Meats section covers everything else - including pork, beef and duck charcuterie.
Traditionally from Italy, Prosciutto is a dry-cured ham from the leg of the pig, usually thinly sliced. The most famous example being Parma Ham.
Our Prosciutto products include:
- Rutland Prosciutto – made using traditional methods, our ham develops delicate and intense flavours after many months of air drying.
- Duck Prosciutto - once cured, the duck breasts are coated in a mix of spices then hung to air dry. The end result is a rich and earthy flavour in a beautiful, melting texture.
Coppa is made from the neck muscle of the pig. Our Coppa is cured and air-dried whole to preserve this wonderful combination of meat and fat (being an active muscle with around 30% fat, the result is a Coppa that is moist and tender). This award-winning meat has got to be the starting point for any Charcuterie platter.
Noix de Jambon or "nuts of ham" are made from smaller whole leg muscles, simply cured and hung to dry. The finished result is very different to the Coppa, giving wonderful deep flavours.
And finally our Beef selection, which includes Bresaola and Biltong:
Bresaola is a dry-cured and air-dried whole muscle meat made from the silverside of beef. Trimmed of fat, the result produces a delicate texture. Traditionally served thinly sliced and drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice – served with a rocket salad, cracked black pepper and freshly shaved Parmesan cheese.
Biltong originates from Africa and was traditionally made from beef and game. Our Biltong is created from strips of beef, cured and air-dried in a spice coating for an intense, peppery flavour. Our Rutland Biltong has garnered quite a following! We think it makes the perfect bar snack or nibble on-the-hoof.
All of our products are Allergen and Gluten Free