Best Cured Meats, August 2014
To do charcuterie right, you must understand the unglamorous science of pH, aw (water activity), and bacteria-inhibiting acidity, which are key to the age-old techniques of drying and salting. At Chi Spacca Chad Colby has mastered the art. The tarragon-flecked terrine and the breaded pork puck—an intense version of scrapple without filler—represent the cooked-through items. It’s in the other domain, where meats are salted and fermented, that Colby distinguishes himself. Heritage hogs are delivered weekly from small-scale Midwestern farms. Tiny cubes of fat for salami are hand cut to avoid the dreaded “smear” effect, which adds oiliness to pork products. The speck, made from a deboned leg, is cured and smoked, but only enough to leave a lingering note. The gorgeously marbled meat is cut to order on a hand-cranked Berkel slicer, so there’s no motor to add heat. The fat melts in the mouth instead.