By Malu Lambert
Where did you learn your trade?
What is a fleischmeister?
It literally means to be a meat master. Butchers today invariably have little knowledge on what to do with the components of a carcass—other than to slice it into the various cuts. A fleischmeister can utilize every part and then produce the finest sausages, cured meats, terrines, galantines, and pâtés. I’m not a fleischmeister though. I’m a charcuterist.
What drink do you recommend to pair with cured meats?
It all depends on the time of day, your mood, your palate and the company you are in. We need to stop being stereotyped into thinking this goes with that. Experiment, liberate yourself, and start enjoying your food and your alcohol. They’re no longer just a means to get full or drunk but should instead be smelled, mulled over the palate and savoured slowly. Although, that being said, fine champagne goes well with thinly sliced pancetta, or try a Weissbier (German white beer) with a pair of oak-smoked Viennas. And of course, a smooth 12-year-old brandy with a fiery Portuguese Chorizo goes beautifully.
Is matching cured meats with connoisseur brandies a relatively new thing?
In this country yes, and quite frankly about time. Fine brandies have a soul that needs to be explored. There are aromas, flavours, thoughts, and memories lurking in the glass that need to be found. So too, do fine cured meats. Take the time to smell the meat, chew it slowly, and roll it all over your palate, ensuring that you unlock the mysteries of the various flavours.
And what about food accompaniments?
There are too many to even begin. But, I’ll try anyway—roasted ripe figs wrapped in Bauernspeck (pork cured in brine with juniper berries and smoked), calamari heads stuffed with Chorizo, and Alsace sausages drizzled with melted Gruyère.
Can you take me through the different stages of curing?
First the meat needs to be layered in coarse sea salt, herbs and spices for the process of osmosis to begin. This draws the blood and liquid out of the meat, and it draws the salt, herbs and spices into the meat. When this reaches the correct stage, the meat is removed and rinsed. It’s then ready to be hung or pressed. This process can take weeks, months or even years, depending upon the individual product.
What’s your food philosophy?
Eat one good sausage rather than two cheap ones.
Do you have a recipe for us?
I sure do. Dice 100g of Bauernspeck and fry off in saucepan until brown and remove. Then sweat 150g of porcini mushrooms in remaining fat and remove. Slice a Chorizo sausage into chunks and warm in same saucepan. Boil 500g penne until al dente. Once ready, fold all the ingredients into the saucepan with half a tub of cream cheese with chives and two tots of fine brandy. Pour the drink that you feel like right then, and enjoy!