I love cookbooks. I had better as I have hundreds upon hundreds of them in my home office, a fact that doesn't always please my wife especially when we move. And yes, I have read each and every one from cover to cover. While I do love cookbooks, after having read so many it is easy to become a little desensitized or jaded to their offerings. Bookstores abound with mediocre cookbooks full of mediocre recipes and it becomes harder and harder for me to find those â€œhiddenâ€ gems. Luckily for me I came across â€œCharcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curingâ€ by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn. This is one of those rare cookbooks that has me even re-thinking my whole career path. After reading â€œCharcuterieâ€ I am ready to give up the whole restaurant business and open my own little Sausage shop or Salumeria! I can't remember the last time I got this excited over a cookbook.
Of course I shouldn't be surprised with the likes of Ruhlman and Polcyn behind this book, it had to be great. Michael Ruhlman has authored a number of books on the Chef profession and helped Thomas Keller write 2 cookbooks. Brian Polcyn is a fantastic chef and first came to fame when he was featured in one of Ruhlman's earlier works, â€œThe Soul of a Chef.â€ Together again, they have created a winning combination of recipes, â€œhow-tosâ€, and essays on the art of Charcuterie.
For the uninitiated, charcuterie covers a whole range of food preparations, but mainly concerns itself with the making, curing and smoking of â€œsausages,â€ from fresh, farmhouse breakfast sausages to brats to cured and dried sausages such as salami and summer sausage. It also covers the making of things such as hams, galantines and various other preparations.
Each aspect of charcuterie is given its own chapter, each one building on the lessons of previous chapters. After a lengthy introduction, the first chapter concerns itself with salt-cured foods. The next chapter deals with smoked foods which first require curing or brining, skills learned in the chapter before. Next comes chapters on fresh sausages followed up by a chapter on dry-cured sausages, so as you can see, the book follows a very logical progression in which each chapter builds upon the previous
Ruhlman and Polcyn also include chapters on pates, terrines and confits, all an integral part of the world of charcuterie. And finally there is a chapter on sauces and condiments to accompany your just created sausages and terrines. All of this information compiled into a book 320 pages long, and while they could have gone on to create a book 3 times this size, on a subject as expansive as charcuterie, this book gives the beginner a great place to start, and the confidence to expand their culinary skills.