Charcuterie from Smith Meadows Kitchen

Charcuterie by Robert Weidemeier, Photography by Katharine Hauschka

Charcuterie by Robert Weidemeier, Photography by Katharine Hauschka

What is charcuterie?  A college friend had a bunch of it at her wedding in Aveyron.  I have had excellent foie gras at the Bavarian Inn in Shepherdstown.  I remember lazy Sunday meals with my family when we indulged in pate with bread from Literi’s.  Simply put– it is very rich, delicious, savory and a little dab will do you.  It can be duck, goose, pork, beef and more.  The cuts you don’t normally ask for at the butcher are transformed into a heavenly loaf, sausage or terrine that can be sliced or spread onto crusty bread to accompany a huge salad.  Since I moved to the farm in 1998 I haven’t had a slice of lunch meat. Consequently my options for a quick, cold and savory lunch have been somewhat limited.  This is all going to change in 2011 beginning with our new, irresistible pork and beef rillettes.

In Pork and Sons Stephane Reynaud celebrates what was once rustic comfort food– everything but the squeal proudly refined with family recipes that he serves at his Montreal restaurant, Villa9trois.  The book makes a case for making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear in cuts that are not terribly popular at farmers market.  Our first foray into Rustic Chic at Smith Meadows will debut this week.  I have brought together several recipes, including Reynaud’s, to make two versions of Rillette, a poor man’s pate or spreadable picnic decadence (as I like to think of it).

Smith Meadows Beef and Pork Rillette

Smith Meadows Beef and Pork Rillette

Our pork rillette is made from slowly braised cubes of pork leg and shoulder that have been shredded and recombined with locally grown leeks, carrots and its own cooking juices.  Brandy with a blend of spices including szechuan pepper, mustard seed, sage and more are the key to the marinade.  Our beef rillette is made in a similar process, however, the marinade is combination of red wine and deeper spices including cloves, allspice and ginger.  The key to all of this, of course, is delicious fat.  Braising leaner cuts from the leg or shoulder require some extra fat.  Our lard is combined with home made poultry stock for the pork, while butter and poultry stock form the base for the beef.  Should this worry you?  No– because healthy animals have healthy fat.  More information is being spread about the importance of quality fat in a healthy diet.  I have referred to this article from Weston Price before, and I will again. Saturated fats, such as lard and butter, are essential for our body– from the walls of our cells to our bones.

Salad with Smith Meadows Beef and Pork Rillette

Salad with Smith Meadows Beef and Pork Rillette

Of course this does not mean you can go over board.  Our rillette comes in 8 oz. containers that should easily feed a family of four on a picnic.  We sampled both varieties the other night with a fresh spring salad made with escarole from Tree &Leaf, micro-greens from Red Rake Farm and Arugula from Endless Summer Harvest.  Balance is the key in any diet.  As you can see from the plate– there is a lot more green stuff.  If you have never had rillette before, come to our stand at Dupont Circle and try some this Sunday.  We are certain you will not be able to resist.  We will be bringing more tasty treats that are lighter and more appealing in the Spring and Summer– stay tuned for our pork and chicken baked egg rolls, our beef dumpling-style ravioli and all of our heavenly pestos that start in the Spring and continue to come until the Fall. Buon Appetito!

Nancy Polo

Nancy is a first generation Italian-American who makes good food and thinks about it. She has lived on this farm since 1998.