With 80 varieties of kitchen-cured meats on the menu at Cypress in Charleston, South Carolina, Executive Chef Craig Deihl knows his charcuterie.
“We started buying the whole animal, and we needed to maximize our costs by using every last piece. We played around with headcheese, then more and more salamis and sausages. Now, we have 40 or more items in our curing room at any one time.”
Deihl, along with a handful of other trailblazing chefs who have been successfully winning over diners with these Old World-inspired delicacies, have essentially thrown down the DIY-charcuterie gauntlet and American chefs are now picking it up with a fury, fueling the salty trend.
And curing meat is not an easy endeavor.
“It’s a lot of work, and you need a lot of space,” says Diehl. “With some meats, you have to wait a year for it to be ready, and you may tweak the recipe for two years to get it right.”
To help create his charcuterie-centered Bar Boulud wine bar, Chef Daniel Boulud brought in master charcutiér Sylvain Gasdon from renowned Gilles Verot in Paris.
“In the 1980s at Le Cirque I had suppliers, but I always dreamed of a selection made fresh,” says Boulud. “Then I was introduced to Gasdon and asked him to join me to make his products in New York. A year later we opened Bar Boulud and it worked.”
Indeed it did. Bar Boulud’s well-publicized success served as a benediction of sorts for many who rightfully questioned whether people would eat fat-riddled, salt-rich salami and sausages, let alone headcheese and lardo. Boulud’s winning bet, coupled with the locavore dining movement and wine’s growing popularity, has made charcuterie one of fine dining’s hottest dishes, with styles ranging from traditional French, Italian and Spanish to new, bold serving boards that borrow flavors from the Deep South, Japan and South America.
As confirmation these meaty morsels are hot right now, Chef Phillip Lopez is slated to open Square Root, a charcuterie-based wine bar, later this year in New Orleans. He’ll serve his cured delights omekase-style—and house a 3,000-bottle wine cellar, banking that diners will stay hungry for the trend and continue to embrace one of wine’s greatest pairings.
Your Cheat Sheet on Charcuterie Pairing
Here’s a fail-safe guide on what to pair with your charcuterie from Bill Netherland, sommelier at Cypress.
Pâtés & Terrines: Lambrusco
What He Pours: Alfredo Bertolani NV Rosso All’antica (Lambrusco Reggiano)
Serrano, Prosciutto & Light Hams: Rosé
What He Pours: Domaine de Reuilly 2013 Pinot Gris Rosé (Reuilly)
Spicy Sausages: Austrian Riesling
What He Pours: Weingut Schloss Gobelsburg 2010 Gaisberg Riesling (Kamptal)
Salumi & Salamis: Barbaresco
What He Pours: Cantina del Pino 2007 Ovello (Barbaresco)