The Cure

Housemade Charcuterie: A Gustatory Sampling in Rhode Island

By David Dadekian / Photography By David Dadekian | September 11, 2011
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Housemade Charcuterie

Once upon a time, in an age before refrigerators and certainly before immersion circulators, people needed a way to preserve meat. A time-honored process of preservation, dating back to 15th century France, charcuterie was created through the magic of the mineral known as salt.

So why, in today’s modern world where we can temperature-control everything, and where we know salt isn’t magic—it merely induces osmosis, dehydration and fermentation and denatures proteins—do we still find people performing the craft of charcuterie?

Simply because the results are so delicious.

The preparation of charcuterie also happens to be very useful in today’s restaurant kitchens where chefs are striving to use whole animals. While some customers remain squeamish about eating certain cuts of meat, or offal, by grinding them into sausage, pressing them into a terrine or processing them into pâtés, every piece of meat can be used to tasty advantage.

Among the Rhode Island chefs refining their technique in the art of charcuterie, there are three Providence chefs doing wonders with pork, duck, chicken, beef and even fish. Derek Wagner, chef/owner of Nick’s on Broadway; Beau Vestal, executive chef at New Rivers; and Matt Gennuso, chef/owner of Chez Pascal, all create magical plates of cured food on a daily basis.

At Nick’s on Broadway, Wagner makes dozens of charcuterie items in house, all from locally procured ingredients. He brings in whole pigs from Stoney Hill Cattle Farm, sides of beef from Blackbird Farm and chickens from Baffoni’s Poultry Farm to create items such as sausage, corned beef hash and confit chicken leg salad.

Vestal features a daily charcuterie and offal menu at New Rivers, offering over a dozen dishes a day from cured Arctic char to lamb merguez to duck ham, along with plenty of pork. Gennuso not only offers a charcuterie plate on the Chez Pascal menu but makes pastrami, sausages and other charcuterie for his food truck, Hewtin’s Dogs Mobile.

Ironically, for a process that was created to preserve meat, charcuterie fferings from these chefs seem to go rather quickly. Thankfully hey keep making more for those of us who love it.v

New Rivers' Canadian Bacon
New Rivers' frankfurter
Nick's on Broadway chicken liver pate
Chez Pascal’s bacon-wrapped pâté, head terrine, pâté en croûte and salami
Photo 1: At New Rivers, Vestal creates a thinly sliced Canadian bacon, a brined and applewood-smoked pork loin, served with red pepper jam, pickles and mustard, alongside duck prosciutto. He prepares a wet cure for the duck breast and hangs it for about 20 days in the walk-in refrigerator, achieving a beautiful mahogany color, especially when contrasted with pickled shallots.
Photo 2: The New Rivers frankfurter with sauerkraut, pickled shallots and mustard is made from Aquidneck Farms beef with a little Berkshire hog fatback from Pat’s Pastured, inside a natural lamb casing. The frankfurter is smoked, then finished by frying on the grill until crispy. Vestal adds, “no bun, so kind of a German/West Austrian beer hall feel.”
Photo 3: Chef Wagner (right) of Nick’s on Broadway and his sous-chef, Xavier Munoz (left), prepare a Baffoni’s Poultry Farm chicken liver pâté by rolling it in fresh herbs and freshly cracked black pepper. The pâté is a highlight of the house charcuterie plate and has even found its way into the stuffed French toast.
Photo 4: Chez Pascal’s bacon-wrapped pâté sits atop a head terrine and next to the pâté en croûte and salami. The pâtés are made from pork and duck liver with a chicken inlay as garnish. One is wrapped in bacon, the other inside a pastry crust. Gennuso makes the terrine by simmering the pig’s head before picking off the meat. He reduces the cooking liquid with its natural gelatins, which is then poured over the meat.
Chez Pascal’s pork rillettes with sweet pepper relish
Nick’s on Broadway lardo
Photo 1: Chez Pascal’s pork rillettes with sweet pepper relish, served as part of their charcuterie plate.
Photo 2: Nick’s on Broadway lardo is made from salt-cured fatback from Stoney Hill Cattle Farm pigs, thinly sliced and used in a number of different ways.

Chez Pascal
960 Hope St., Providence • 401.421.4422 • www.chez-pascal.com

New Rivers
7 Steeple St., Providence • 401.751.0350 • www.newriversrestaurant.com

Nick’s on Broadway
500 Broadway, Providence • 401.421.0286 • www.nicksonbroadway.com

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