How long have you been in business?
I set up SaltPig Curing Company in early 2017 but it wasn’t until the summer that I started selling. As the chef – self-taught originally but always learning on the job – I’d been making Charcuterie at The Plough from the “get-go”, and throughout the 5 years I worked there. It was part of the ethos – preserving, foods in season, using up every scrap. We practised whole animal butchery and every scrap got used.
Where did you learn to make Charcuterie?
I learned on the job at The Plough. Trial & Error but I had Michael Ruhlman at my side. His booksbooks† were my guide and from them, I learnt to make all sorts – Venison Salami, Guanciale (an Italian cured meat product prepared from pork jowl or cheeks), Lamb Prosciutto, Smoked Tenderloins. They were all on the menu. When I left, I knew Charcuterie was what I wanted to do. I did a course at Sapori & Saperi in Tuscany – an amazing experience that confirmed everything.
How would you describe your style of Charcuterie?
Italian-based techniques. Simple flavours. I’ve learnt the importance of holding back but creating pronounced flavours. I’ve fallen in love with the process. It’s the sheer complexity and the fine details that make the difference.
I might make fine adjustments acknowledging the raw materials or the conditions but the aim is constant – to make every part as good as I can, then let Nature take its course. And of course, to strive for consistency – one of the challenges for Artisan Producers.
Are Locally sourced ingredients an important part of your business?
Local connections really matter – my Morteau sausage is flavoured with wild garlic hand-picked from around here. I use Hook Norton a local beer, local cider from Pearson’s and Cotswold Distillery Gin for my Gin-cured Collar.
What about the Livestock – where do you source your pigs?
Based in Gloucestershire, I had to use Gloucester Old Spot pigs. I buy them from two farmers who take them on to my specifications to 10 months, consistency of fat levels is all important. At that age, the pig delivers maximum flavour and a fat-to-lean ratio that’s good for Charcuterie. When going at full tilt, a carcass will weigh around 120 kilos and we practise whole animal butchery, so there’s no wastage.
Cured Meats or Charcuterie? How do you describe your products?
I’m more of a Cured Meat man. I prefer it and it sounds more anglicised. I work a lot using whole muscles, and for me, Cured Meats describes our range better.
What is your Favourite Product?
Garlic & Pepper Salami – our signature salami. Unlike most salamis, the fat, hand diced from the back of the pig “studs” rather than being mixed in with the lean meat minced from the leg and shoulder. Flavoured with fresh garlic and coarsely ground black pepper, it has a soft bite and a resounding flavour. It shows best what we do.