Has making Charcuterie always been a family tradition?
I grew up on a mixed farm. We kept some livestock and did the odd bit of butchering, even making Bath Chaps. The farm wasn’t big enough to support me and my brother so I took the next logical step and trained to be a butcher in Harrogate. I bought this shop in Ilkley, then a one-man band, in 1986. It’s grown from there.
When did you start making Charcuterie?
About 10 years ago. The butcher shop was doing well and I like and felt I needed, a challenge. I enjoy eating Charcuterie, it’s difficult to get right, so it seemed a good idea.
And as for a challenge, there’s so much to consider – the balance and blend of flavours, the texture and so on. Possibly the most challenging aspect, particularly when you’re developing products, is you’ve got to be really patient. There’s the time lag to cope with. You wait……several weeks, even months before you can taste…..then maybe wait some more. And then be prepared to start all over again!
How would you describe your Style of Charcuterie?
A mixture of German and Italian styles. The cures, the flavours and the techniques. A bit borrowed from here, another from there, plus, there’s the English twist.
I’ve done courses in Italy and Germany. The difference between the two countries and their attitudes is marked. In Italy, ask the question “Why do it this way” and they’ll answer “because that’s how we do it” or “because we always have done this way” or “it’s the tradition”
In Germany, they’re far more technically switched on. They’ll give exact, clinical answers explaining the rationale and/or the equipment and the part it plays.
There’s room for both attitudes but for me, the Italians produce the best. The best eating qualities and that’s what I aim to produce.
Tell me about your “English Twist”
It’s about the ingredients, British Pork. The quality of the meat makes all the difference to the quality of the Charcuterie.
We use welfare-friendly, outdoor-bred pork with plenty of fat, reared in a stress-free environment for very low PH and testosterone so the eating quality of the meat is not affected. We only use gilts (females) – that means no boar taint.
As we’re also an independent butcher, it’s a great luxury, as we have the access to and turnover for quality raw materials. That is so all-important.
Who, Where or What inspires you?
Apart from travelling, meeting producers and taking courses, I relied initially on books.
Possibly my biggest influence – and I should add – inspiration is the classic Home Production of Quality Meats & Sausages† by brothers Stanley & Adam Marianski. Even now, I go back to it a lot.
I also admire Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing† by Michael Ruhlman for recipe ideas.
What are your favourite Lishman’s Products?
I have a few. Air Dried York Ham – it won a silver in the British Charcuterie Live Awards in 2019 – it’s butchered long and flat so it’s easier to cure, has a more even cure and is easier to slice. That’s the butcher in me talking.
Another is Beef & Pork Pepperoni cured in red wine. Eat it like salami or cook it on top of a pizza.
As Champion Producer, how important are Awards?
Awards are so important to us. It’s great to win, and get recognition and publicity – but the judges’ feedback and their evaluation of our products are so valuable. Here’s hoping for this year!
Thank you to David