Another story about smallgoods

Smallgoods: A clever name now that I actually consider it: small and good. Brilliant. In French they call it Charcuterie, in Italian they call it Salumi. In Melbourne we seem to have adopted the term charcuterie despite a strong Italian edit on most menus. These words both refer to the practice of preserving fresh meat through drying, curing, fermentation & smoking—more often than not a combination of all four. The techniques are ancient, the science has only just caught up.

Yesterday I attended a French Farmstead Charcuterie workshop in Eganstown, just out of Daylesford. It was so well put together that I thought I should send some love back in their direction, and in the process recommend some people, places & courses for those who are interested in learning more. I’ve been making salami (and various smallgoods) with my family now for years and have been fascinated to see the industry grow & evolve. What Kate Hill has called Farmstead Charcuterie adds an extra dimension, defined as ‘charcuterie products made on a single farm from animals raised on that farm’.

The workshop was sponsored by Sascha from Scrag End Journal (more on this shortly) and held at Jonai Farms just out of Daylesford – which is owned and managed by Tammi & Stuart Jonas. From France, Christiane & Dominique Chapolard (both charcutier’s  – people who make charcuterie for a living) were joined by Kate Hill – who runs Kitchen at Camont a French Culinary retreat in South-West France. See below for links to these organisations.

Between Dominique, his gorgeous wife Christiane & their advocate/friend/occasional translator Kate,  we were taken through the process of breaking down a carcass into the primary & then secondary charcuterie cuts, as they do in Gascony. The belly was skinned, salted lightly and rolled into what would become a semi-cured pancetta, they call it ventreche. The neck was salt cured, destined to become coppa, the leg (instead of being cured as a whole ham/prosciutto) was sectioned into 9 smaller whole muscle pieces, each salted lightly & air dried: these in 6 weeks will be mini-hams. The head was boiled for four hours, the meat picked, seasoned & cooked again in a terrine pan. Amazing. Offcuts we minced, seasoned and rolled into Fricandeaux – a fist sized ball of sausage mix, wrapped in caul fat and baked. Almost nothing goes to waste, although it amazed me that the French don’t generally make crackling from the skin!

Photo by Sascha Rust @ Scrag End Journal

Photo by Sascha Rust @ Scrag End Journal

The pig was grown & provided by Tammi & Stuart who own Jonai farms. For anyone interested in the fair food/ethical food movement these guys are living the dream. Their vertical (no growth) model of growing pigs & processing them into products for direct sale is inspiring and fascinating. I could go on about this, but they describe it much more eloquently on their website. You can visit the farm, and they also offer salami and sausage workshops, plus Tammi’s blog is fantastic.

Kate, Christiane, Dominique & Jonai Farms were all brought together by Sascha Rust – a chef/journalist/ethical food movement advocate who with his brother have started Scrag End Journal. This A5, beautifully assembled piece of journalism is ‘part journal, part notebook, part textbook and part guidebook, concerned more with storytelling than cooking lessons – a collection of food ideas’. Hot tip – get on their blog/facebook/website to get a copy and follow the production. It’s wonderful.

The point of this workshop was of course to teach some French charcuterie techniques, and yet on another level it was a platform to share & promote the practice of sustainable food production, champion minimal waste & commit to eating ethically grown food. It’s a return to basics driven by a collective, artisan movement where consumers want to know what they’re eating.

The good news is there are a handful of people in Victoria/Melbourne who are behind this movement and you can get involved, learn to make your own charcuterie. Twitter is your friend here, or subscribe to the various mailing lists for event notifications:

Scrag End Journal [@Scrag_End] Follow them on Facebook too

Jonai Farm [ @jonaifarms ] has a whole schedule for 2014 – check it out here (and check out Tammy’s blog too)

Politini Wines in King Valley hosts a salami workshop a few times over winter

The Meat Room in Kilmore are planning classes later in 2014 – follow them on Twitter [@themeatroom1]

Sausages Made Simple @I_Make_Sausage] also offer a huge range of workshops in Melbourne & beyond

Kate Hills’ [@KatedeCamont] culinary retreat in Gascony, south west France is one for your bucket list. Kate is a real inspiration – a champion of healthy food systems

Piper St Food Co in Kyneton are renovating and will be back on board October 2014.