Friday, March 9, 2012

Charcuterie

Charcuterie is the art of preparing meat, especially pork, such sausages, ham, rillettes and pates.


A small piece of a Charcuterie shop
I just returned from a fabulous trip to Paris, which was a food lovers delight.  Everyone laughed that all of the photos were of food!  But why were they surprised?
In Paris, they have supermarkets, but most lack the gourmet sections that ours do, but they don't mind at all; every neighborhood has its line of specialty shops that any foodie would love to have.  The bakery (both a boulangie for bread and a patisserie for goodies), the cheese shop (fromagier), the produce stand, perhaps a wine shop, the butcher shop, and separate from the butcher is my favorite, the charcuterie (think of the best most gourmet deli ever).

State side when people think of prepared meats they think of bologna and salami, but there is so much more.  Pate, campagne, rillette, sausages fresh and dry, made from everything, pork, duck, rabbit, liver... The shops are so full it is hard to choose what to have.  One of the best picnics we had was with a rabbit and pistachio terrine plus a classic piece of campaigner with a baguette and some cheese (I could rave about the cheese shops too!)

Next time you are putting out a cheese tray try adding a slice of pate, they make a great pair.  See my 2/13/12 blog for more: http://blog.sonomacaterers.com/2012/02/ahhh-paris.html

Pâté is a rich savory mixture of meat of just about any type presented as a te.  It can be very smooth like pâté de foie gras or a chunkier country style pâté de campagne.   There is pâté en croute, which has a pastry crust.

Rillette is potted meat cooked with herbs in its own fat and then preseved in a dish with a fat layer on top.  It is distinct from pâté in that it is more spreadable.  It would not hold its shape without the pot, while a pâté does.

While the difference to me has always been so obvious, I've always found it hard to explain, and I can't even find a satisfactory explanation on-line.  But Mr PSC described it as ... (and I cringe at this description, but can't say it's wrong)...  "pâté is like a gourmet spam, while rillette is like a gourmet deviled ham".  Please, please stress the word gourmet in that! :)   But just go to your market and look near the gourmet cheeses to find some true pâté and rillette and find out for yourself.

Enjoy,
A



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