One of my favorite times each month is when Julie, our in-house charcutière, begins making the amazing treats that she includes in each month’s Formaggio Food Community (FFC) charcuterie share. I’ve always been a huge fan of her regular selections (her chicken liver mousse and duck pâté make me weak in the knees!), so it is exciting to see her experiment on new recipes each month for the FFC. If I’m lucky, she will even let me be her taste tester. As with her usual charcuterie, she always uses super fresh, local ingredients. I recently jumped at the chance to write a blog post about her charcuterie share so that I could take home a full share and enjoy all that it had to offer!
Pork Rillettes and Rabbit Pâté: My first plan of action was to enjoy the pâté and rillettes! Julie typically includes at least one or two items that can (and should) be enjoyed right away with no prep. One of my favorite dinner options (especially after a long day of work) is pâté, bread and butter, a tasty fresh garnish and a glass of wine. Our wine buyer, Jessica, enjoyed this impromptu meal with me and we were instantly in heaven! The pork rillettes were a classic: simple, porky and delicious. Julie slow cooked Connecticut pork butt and belly with a splash of brandy until it was perfectly textured. She then finished this delicacy with a layer of duck fat. The pâté can be enjoyed chilled or warm (my preference) with a crusty piece of bread. The rabbit pâté was a great compliment to the rillettes because, flavor-wise, it is noticeably more complex. With a base of Vermont rabbit, Connecticut pork, aromatics and a little rum, the pâté is then studded with pistachios to round it out. Rich, nutty, complex and slightly sweet, it was incredible with our glasses of Bordeaux!
House-cured Veal Pastrami: This veal pastrami both made me melt and melted in my mouth! Made from humanely raised veal from a consortium of Mennonite farmers in Pennsylvania, this pastrami is all about the meat. After it is brined for 5 days, it is studded with coriander and peppercorns, hot smoked for two hours and then finished low and slow in the oven for tenderness. A long process, but well worth it! Julie gave us a generous amount (thinly sliced), so I was able to use it in two ways. First, I just ate it plain with my breakfast eggs (I have a soft spot for cured meats for breakfast!). The pastrami was rich and meaty with the perfect balance of pepper. Such a great accompaniment with eggs! Second, I really wanted to experiment with lightly cooking it. I made a classic corn chowder and I thought that the veal pastrami would make a delicious garnish. I lightly sautéed the pastrami, just enough so that the fat rendered slightly and it crisped up a bit. Using a slotted spoon I removed it from the pan and reserved the fat. I added some thinly sliced Tuscan kale to the rendered fat and cooked it through, just adding a touch of salt. Once cooked, I added the pastrami back into the kale and cooked it enough so that it was warm. I took a hefty heap of kale and pastrami and put it onto each serving of soup. The slightly crispy pastrami far exceeded my expectations – it was perfect.
Fresh Pork Sausage with Apple and Sauternes: When I first got the share I decided to put the sausage in the freezer right away so that I could enjoy it later in the month. The sausage always comes sealed nicely so it is easy to freeze. To thaw, I just put it in the fridge overnight. It was pretty easy figuring out what to do with the sausage. Having three little chickens at my house, I’m always looking for an excuse to eat more eggs! One of my favorite dinners is something that my dad would make for me – sausage, potatoes, sauerkraut and fried eggs. This is a great one pan meal. I start by preheating the oven to 350 °F and then searing the sausage in an ovenproof pan on the stove. Once there is nice browning, I pop it in the oven until it is cooked through. After it is cooked, I reserve the sausage on the side with some foil over it to keep it warm. Using the fat in the pan, I cook my potatoes (diced very finely) until crispy and cooked. Next, I fry 4 eggs in the pan (2 per person). Last, I slightly sauté some sauerkraut (this is how my dad made it so that I would like it… now I love it slightly warm!) and plated everything together. The apples really came through in the sausage and were perfect for the season. I couldn’t help pairing it with a bottle of Bantam Wunderkind hard apple cider – fall at its best!
The best thing about the FFC charcuterie share is that each month has some new, delicious treat that is the perfect amount for 2 people. These treats are fleeting (most of them are special recipes that we don’t sell to the general public) and I’m always excited to see what new recipe Julie will develop! I should add – each month’s share comes with a wonderful write-up so that you know exactly where your food is coming from, how it is made and serving suggestions. A tip from someone on the inside – sign up before December! Her holiday creations cannot be beat and I’m still dreaming about the foie gras mousse with Sauternes aspic that she made last year!
For more information on the Formaggio Food Community program, please visit our website.
Julia Hallman wears many hats at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge – among them are cheesemonger, classroom instructor and international buyer.