The word charcuterie comes from the French terms chair cuite ‘cooked meat’. Today, it has come to mean the art and science of the pig – in other words, the butchering, fabrication and preparation of pork – but it is also a term used more generally for all sorts of cold meat, poultry and fish products and dishes.
I remember when I was younger, we used to go down to the local town square for market day every Tuesday and choose our livestock. My family always bought from the same charcutier as Maman and Papa liked his products and he came from near Maman’s village. Several years later, when I was starting my apprenticeship at a hotel in the town of Luxeuil-les-Bains, I learned how to make a few of the charcuterie products I used to eat. It was also a coincidence that Maman and Papa’s charcutier supplied the hotel. During my training I often had to prep the fowls, rabbit, deer or other animals before I started to make a dish. It wasn’t easy, but I was learning – after all, that was why I was here.
One of the most important charcuterie dishes I learned to make was terrine: a mixture of meat, fish, poultry or seafood, packed into rectangular dishes and often cooked in a bain-marie. Usually served in the container in which they are made and accompanied by pickles or even a sauce, they formed part of a buffet display. At The Vineyard, I always have a terrine on the menu and currently it’s guinea fowl and parsley terrine, apricot, chicory, almonds, which seems to be very popular with our guests at the moment.
Another great charcuterie dish I learned to cook was foie gras terrine. This is very popular during the festive season in France. A rare delicacy for food lovers, but a sensitive subject in general, it is made with goose or duck livers. Our pressed confit foie gras, peach, cucumber and ginger ,currently on our a la carte menu, is a dish that is often enjoyed by our guests during lunch and dinner. Our charcutiere boards together with our cheese boards that can be order from our California Bar menu are a great starter or sharing platter to be enjoyed with friends and family.
You’ll find more about the history and the different types of Charcuterie in my first Cookbook, French Brasserie Cookbook, as well as lots of great charcuterie recipes that are extremely tasty and easy to cook at home.
I hope to welcome you to The Vineyard soon.