My charcuterie friend Jonel Picioane has the most awesome store. His Sunnyside market was my go to shop where I buy nduja and all sorts of good things. But to visit his Ridgewood European Pork store....well, it's smoking! Literally as you walk to this hidden gem in the Ridgewood neighborhood of Queens, it's a one of a kind, because not many butchers with his skill have survived. If you catch him behind the counter your eyes, and all senses are opened by his craft work, go check him out!
For a long time I'd wanted to make an unusual terrine, something not usually found in the palate of charcuterie. So I took my standard formula and just adjusted the meat, cuts, fat content and made the profile on a Moroccan spice quotient with nuts and dried fruits.
Fabulous, and packed with delicious flavors and texture!
Craving merguez sausage for sometime now, and mindful of ever avoiding waste, I used a butchering opportunity at work to put together of a batch of these Morroccan treats. Not having casing, they ended up looking a bit like burgers. I used the fatty meat between lamb racks, as well as the tail end of a beef filet to make a 50/50 mix. To the meat, I added traditional merguez spices, fresh coriander, and harissa (made of ancho and other chilies. It led to a deliciously fragrant and moist mix. With no pita (or even tahini dressing), I opted to eat as a sandwhich with a grilled baguette, onion, tomato and some salad. Topped with olive oil, it was delicious comfort food.
I've been craving nduja, that spicy spreadable pork sausage, ever since I first tried some from San Francisco's Boccalone. Later I bought some a bit more locally at Murray's Cheese in Greenwhich Village. What a treat, till Murry's stopped selling it.
Enter a new source, thank you Jonel Piciocane, my man at Sunnyside Meat Market. After bugging poor Jonel relentlessly to produce some of those fiery Calabrian spreadable salamis, he did. Delicious! Now I'm baking him some bread in apprecation. If you're in NYC, come out to Sunnyside and get it from Jonel. If not, find your own master butcher to recreate this lovely semi-pate.
Luck on Facebook led me to find Chef Aaron Patin of Wisconson, who is capable of creating some fabulous charcuterie. Over time, we decided to move from email to snail mail, as it would allow us to share more than recipes and actually send each other some food; my bread for his cured pork lomo. From virtual to postal networking - ah the delicous possibilities of modern life.
I figured a rye would travel better than a wheat loaf, which could easily go stale. And since I had made some German breads, including a rye, I sent it out. A day later, a package of Aaron's lomo arrived. I just had a slice, slightly melted on a new Landbrot. Delicious. thank you Aaron, thank you Facebook, thank you U.S. mail!
I returned to Warsaw Deli, again. The visit came after an afternoon of dental work. My teeth hurt, but I was hungry.
Luckily, I remembered the Warsaw Deli location. And then I was in it, the smell of wurst, and the sight of beer deliciously overwhelming, along with the sight of beautiful looking pickles. And low and behold, they had some "żytinia," or rye flour to my non-Polish friends.
Here's what I got and quickly scarfed, without a wink of an eye!
Sometimes it's better to be behind a trend, especially when it's something to do with food. Let other people do the tasting and wait for you and your taste buds to catch up! Other times, well, don't walk for it, run! Case in point. While walking through Grand Central Market recently, I passed Murray's cheese's new charcuterie department. Amongst the salsicce, I saw nduja. Yes nduja, that Calabrian soft salami that is the rage in the salumi circles.
According to the folks at Murray's, this particular version of nduja (above) is from Boccalone and pronounced "en doo ya." A waiter at work who is from Calabria shrugged when I mentioned this delicacy from his native land. Apparently it's less a specialty in southern Italy than a regular staple. Regardless, a shout out to these guys who make such fine pig products.
This recent walk around Grand Central Market reminded me of my visit to San Francisco's Ferry Market, a place I visited while attending bread school. I still remember my baguettes with their fierce fennel pollen flavored salami, a perfect casse croûte for my walks to class. Hoooha!
Nduja is made with the head of the pork minus the cheeks, which are saved to make guanciale. A distant cousin to the French Andouille, the nduja is packed in the lower intestine of its own tripe lining. My first tasting done, I find this spreadable salami heady spicy and ready for some more tasting!
Nudja has that sort mystical aura, difficult to find and legendary among some foodies. Unless you're Calabrian or have visited that part of the "Toe " of Italy, or come upon this delicacy by sheer luck. You might think it were spam (gone funky), or even musty looking botargo. No, it's just a for the strong-hearted, a salami that spreads a fiery new dimension, especially compared to the standard hard salami that most of us know. Nudge, nudge.. go get some!