Tag Archive for: charcuterie

Regular readers of this website may have registered my passion for charcuterie. Be it the remarkable Italian artisanal products championed by one of my local haunts, Coin in Hebden Bridge or the Modena poaching sausage Cotechino replicated by a Liverpool charcutier trained in South West France.

British charcuterie has remained under the radar but, like our wine and cheeses, is now promoting itself as a real contender against continental opposition that has been curing or  smoking the stuff for centuries. Our own traditional brawns, haslets, chines, potted meats, even hams, are a whole different matter. We may have left Europe but when it comes to  a sharing platter it seems it has to be that French term charcuterie.

In Manchester I’ve recently enjoyed a selection (above) from Curing Rebels at Flawd wine bar whose chef/co-owner Joseph Otway is a huge fan of his fellow Brightonians, while the strong Scottish influence at the Butcher’s Quarter (Tib Street and Deansgate Mews) has seen them featuring nduja and salamis from Edinburgh’s East Coast Cured. A widely available pioneer, using no nitrates in their charcuterie, is an old favourite, Trealy Farm in Monmouthshire and the outstanding Cobble Lane Cured flies the flag for London across some prestigious establishments.

What all the operations have in common is combining curing skills gleaned from Europe’s finest with Britain’s exceptional raw materials.

Yorkshire border based, I’m happy enough to rely on Porcus three miles away as the pig flies, but there is Tyke competition from the multi-award-winning Lishman’s of Ilkley, who’ve stuffed a lot into 35 years of sausage making, pies, bacon and all things porky.

I’ve come late to their salami, though, the high profile of which has coincided with Emma Lishman joining dad David in the family business, the roots of which go back much further.

On the Lishman’s website David recalls: “I grew up on a farm where we raised pigs and turned them into bacon and hams, on the stone slabs in the cellar. My father taught me the recipe and method. He also grew up on a farm near Harrogate, and during WW2, the POWs from the local camp were brought to work on the land. One German was a butcher back in his homeland, and showed father how to cure and preserve the meat from the pigs on the farm. It’s a method we still use today.”

Stalwarts of Q Guild of Butchers, the body representing Britain’s best quality independent meat retailers, the Lishman team hand-craft their products in-house featuring pork from only Yorkshire high welfare outdoor bred pigs. It has won them a raft of awards, including two golds in the 2021 British Charcuterie Live Awards for their Yorkshire Black Bacon and Pork Hazelnut & Cider Salami.

My verdict on the Lishman charcuterie

Yorkhire chorizo This take on the spicy Spanish speciality won best gluten-free at this year’s Smithfield Star Awards run by the Q Guild. It is silky, the fat well balanced.

Fennel salami My favourite, even when not called ‘Finocchiona’. I am a fennel freak, liberally dusting many a dish with expensive fennel pollen, so maybe for me the spicing could have been more assertive.

Coppa A real depth of hammy flavour from cured pork shoulder loin.

Smoked York Ham Delicately smoked without compromising the creamy fat. Being honest, with all these products (available online via the website) and other UK providers I do regret mostly having to buy them ready sliced and packaged, however sustainably. I like slicing int the whole thing. A small grumble in the midst of such quality.

The best gifts come in pairs. In the run-up to Christmas the most perfect grazing bolthole has sprung up down the road, from which a portal has opened to a cornucopia of Italian artisan wonders. Living the edible dream as just bottled, grassy new season olive oil from the Abruzzo, Sicilian capers packing a volcanic punch and a whole Tuscan finocchiona (fennel salami) from Cinta senese pigs arrived in the post the other day. All the way from some enlightened middle men in Bermondsey.

Buon appetito then. But first back to that handily placed bolthole. It’s in Hebden Bridge in a former bank building and it’s called Coin. What’s behind the bar’s name? I suggest to co-owners Oliver Lawson and Chloe Greenwood it might be a reference to the ‘The Cragg Vale Coiners’. Up the hill in Heptonstall Shane Meadows is currently filming The Gallows Pole – a BBC adaptation of Ben Myers’ novel about real life 18th century counterfeiters in the Calder Valley. 

Already there’s a craft beer bar in nearby Mytholmroyd named Barbary’s after the alehouse the gang frequented. Or maybe Coin as the French for corner to match the site whose lofty windows look out on two streets? And, of course, in its previous incarnation as Lloyds Bank plenty of small change passed across the counter.

Oliver, poker-faced, agrees it might be any or all of those. He’s more forthcoming about the origins of the charcuterie board we’ve ordered along with a £10 trio of Lindisfarne oysters  and schooners of Garage IPA from Barcelona. 

The imports he’s most proud of are the finely sliced finocchiona, mortadella, coppa and prosciutto di San Daniele that circle a wedge of the bar’s home-made pâté de campagne on our platter. Having worked for the likes of Mana in Manchester and (along with Chloe) the Moorcock at Norland he has a fair handle on quality ingredients and that’s even more important when kitchen facilities are limited.

It’s a similar scenario at Flawd at New Islington Marina, Manchester. As part of their small plate offering Flawd source their cured meats from Curing Rebels in Brighton. It would have been easy for Coin to rely on local stars  Porcus in the hills above Todmorden, but ‘Slow Food Movement’ explorations in Italy left them smitten with the quality they found. 

“We wanted to do something different to anything else in the area,” Oliver tells us as he adds a house pickle accompaniment to the table. “The charcuterie prices are pretty much the same that we would pay for their British equivalent.”

The 100g meat plate is £13.95, a plate of five cheeses (two French, one Swiss, a Cheddar and Todmorden’s very own Devil’s Rock Blue) a tenner, while simple small plates range from £5.50 to £9.50. Our meal eventually costs me an extra £90 on top. Why? Because I was so enamoured of the charcuterie we were served that back home I placed my own order with the UK suppliers and friends of Oliver and Chloe, The Ham and Cheese Company. Formed on a Borough Market stall 15 years ago, they now work out of wholesale maturing rooms in a Victorian railway arch in Bermondsey. All they sell is from a network of small, ultra-sustainable, independent producers from across Italy (plus there’s a small Basque presence also).

The operation has a huge fan base among top London chefs specialising in Italian cuisine – Theo Randall, Joe Trivelli of the River Cafe and Murano’s Angela Hartnett, who says: “What I love about Elliott and Alison is their ability to source the most incredible salumi straight from the producer. The best I have tasted – plus my mother (with Italian roots) agrees!”

What really sold Ham and Cheese Co to me was a blog by Alison on the website entitled The Ethical Abbatoir. Its mission statement is immediate: “The first thing we ask a potential new producer is the number of pigs they slaughter a week. We know that this will often tell us more about the producer, their philosophy, and the quality of their product, than any other question.” This blog piece features their San Daniele provider, Prolongo, a family business that is so wedded to tradition (natural drying and ageing, salting, massaging and larding) that they only produce 7,000 hams a year).

It’s harder to work this way in the UK because the tradition of small-scale animal slaughter that these Italian producers sustain has all but disappeared. 

Not feeling able to run to a 2.3kg whole rare breed Mora Romagnoli mortadella from Aldo Zivieri, I had settled on a more modest finocchiona from Carlo Pieri, who has a small shop in the Tuscan village of Sant Angelo Scalo near Montalcino. He works just four pigs a week and uses a local abattoir he invested in to save it. His octogenarian mum picks all the wild fennel seeds and fennel pollen that season Carlo’s salumi. Check out my paean to fennel pollen.

As it turns out I end up accepting a substitute. Elliott tries to ring me, then texts the news that the next delivery from Tuscany is a week away; I can wait or try, at the same price, a new producer’s fennel salami, 50g smaller but normally more expensive, made from Cinta Senese, the queen of Italian pigs (above), so I’m actually getting a better deal. 

And so it proved. A perfect blend of creamy fat and sweetly cured flesh, the one from the Rosati family’s Azienda Agricola Fontanelle was remarkably even better than the Pieri we first tasted at Coin. We paired it with buffalo mozzarella and doused them in that ‘green’ olive oil I mentioned.

A final word, especially relevant as no shows proliferate across hospitality, by all means do as I did, and work your way through the producer pen pictures on the Ham and Cheese website, revealing a glorious food culture. Maybe even place an order. But do support a small indie like Coin, launching at the most difficult of times. 

I’m going back as soon as I can to road-test the rest of the menu and a whole raft of natural wines. As usual I’ll be making my own Negronis this Christmas, yet I also intend to try one of Oliver and Chloe’s. Before tackling another charcuterie platter, naturally.

Coin, Albert Street, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, HX7 8AH. 01422 847707.

In the week that Noma belatedly gained a third Michelin star after years of accolades for transforming the way we look at the food on our plate and how we source the raw materials it seems entirely of the moment to be talking low intervention wines with one of its alumni.

No, not on the Refshaleøen waterfront in Copenhagen, where chef Rene Radzepi works his culinary magic; our view is of New Islington Marina, extension of Manchester’s own hip enclave, Ancoats. Dan Craig Martin is the curator of the wine offering at Flawd, latest arrival on Marina Promenade. Originally from Oregon, Dan spent three years working at Noma. 

New Islington Marina looks idyllic in the autumn sunshine… time for natural wine and charcuterie

Crucially he was previously at Blue Hill at Stone Barns restaurant in upstate New York – the farm to table crucible where the Joseph Otway/Richard Cossins project, Higher Ground, was forged. Richard was general manager at Stone Barns when fellow Brit Joe arrived as fish chef.

In 2020 Higher Ground sprang up in Manchester as a residency in the Kampus development. Here’s my Manchester Confidential review, which also unravels the partners’ CVs that include America, London, Copenhagen and Stockport.

After further peripatetic pop-ups their eyes are on a permanent restaurant site in the NOMA (the acronym is catching) district near Victoria Station, probably next year. Higher Ground has benefited from keeping their terrific team intact too – the likes of Meg and Chris.

The gang are all together at self-styled neighbourhood wine bar Flawd. Awkward name for a destination that decidedly isn’t. OK, the lack of an extractor fan means there’s no cooking on the premises. So expect assemblies of produce grown at Cinderwood, a Cheshire market garden they are partners in or platters of British cheeses and charcuterie with bread from neighbours Pollen Bakery, naturally.

Not just any charcuterie, mind. It’s sourced from Curing Rebels in Brighton, up there with the UK’s best producers of cured, fermented and smoked treats. The £12 plate on the menu for my visit featured salami, smoked sausage and coppa. So perfect to share a bottle of wine over with a view of barges and wildfowl (oh and the odd steepling apartment block in the distance).

I warmed immediately both to the wines and ciders on Flawd’s shelves, to drink in or take away, and to new partner Dan’s approach to specialising in ‘low intervention’. It’s no secret that natural wine apostles can turn into zealots, given consumer resistance. Here the choice, with affordable wines by the glass too, is much more welcoming. 

Natural wines will always be a broad church. Some wines will be a challenge to traditional, maybe hidebound palates, but there’s so much to convert you with proper advice from Dan. We share a love of less alcoholic Loire reds from Cabernet Franc and Gamay grapes. Among the most vibrant vignerons in the region is biodynamic champion Thierry Germain, marrying a modern approach to tradition (he uses both shire horses horses and specially light quad bikes in the vineyards). His Roches Neuves Saumur Champigny is £37 to drink in and at £28 to carry out. I couldn’t resist the latter.

To accompany a trio of dishes I was recommended a red from Northern Spain that combined old favourite grape Mencia with a dash of Palomino, white grape best known for sherry. Fascinating and very drinkable. 

Each of the dishes showed the value of Cinderwood. This one acre biologically intensive market garden in Poole, Cheshire, is based on the regenerative, organic principles championed by Dan Barber at Blue Hill at Stone Barns in a quest for the best possible flavours 

Under grower Michael Fitzsimmons, Cinderwood is supplying an increasing number of Manchester’s best places to eat, including 10 Tib Lane, Elnecot and The Creameries, which all share a similar ethos. Flawd, though, benefits from a daily supply chain, on which they base a swiftly changing menu.

What also cheers me is the presence of ‘signature’ ingredients that featured in that first Kampus tasting menu – the likes of smoked cod roe, Tropea onions, sea buckthorn.

Rings of Tropea, that intense red onion originally from Calabria, join an ox heart crumble in a sweet/savoury jumble on the freshest ice queen lettuce, another Italian ‘expatriate’ variety

Wafer-thin slices of courgette come dotted with Morecambe Bay shrimp in an elderflower dressing; even prettier and mouth-tingling is a dish where almost transparent discs of cucumber are coated in (the acceptable face of taramsalata) an emulsion of smoke cod roe and garnished with strips of lemony sorrel.

Most of the small dishes range in price from a fiver to £8. Seated next to the pass with Joe hard at work, the most popular dishes on the night appeared to be smoked salmon with Manchester sea buckthorn hot sauce and Lancaster Smokehouse mackerel on toast.

Of the new ventue Joe has said: “We really just want to open a neighbourhood wine bar for the growing New Islington community, to create a space for people to drink great wine, relax and have fun. Treat it as an ideal destination for an after-work drink, an aperitivo before dinner, or a few drinks before a night out in surrounding Ancoats or the Northern Quarter.”

I think it’s going to be hugely popular and I’m looking forward to a proper investigation of its bottleshop shelves. Still, it feels a product of canny expediency, a stepping stone towards a full restaurant experience Higher Ground. Now that would lift the spirits for 2022. Joseph Otway cooking on gas again!

Flawd, Unit 3, Mansion House, Marina Promenade, New Islington, M4 6JL. Wine bar hours: Wed/Thu/Sun: 5pm-11pm; Fri/Sat: 5pm-11:30pm. Bottle shop hours: Wed/ Thu/Sun: 12pm-11pm; Fri/Sat: 12pm-11:30pm. Main image left to right: Richard, Meg, Joe, Dan and Chris.

Blue Hill at Stone Barns 

This is the (literally) groundbreaking project of farm to table guru/chef Dan Barber. With a messianic zeal, his book The Third Plate: Field Notes for the Future of Food (Abacus) champions organic flavour-driven produce as a meal focus. Shift to fewer slabs of protein, elevate the finest quality veg and grains to centre stage, respect the earth is the message. To see what can be achieved on the plate, check out series one, episode two of Netflix’s Chef’s Table.

Natural Wine primers

I’d suggest two books by Alice Fiering – Natural Wine for the People (Ten Speed Press) and The Dirty Guide To Wine (Countryman Press), the latter in conjunction with Pascaline Lepetiere. Less terroir hardcore and covering organic and biodynamic producers is Wine Revolution (Jacqui Small) by Jane Anson.

Sometimes a wine comes along that makes you re-think a neglected old favourite. That’s the case with Cayetano del Pino Palo Cortado Solera. It has been the subject of rave reviews on The Wine Society website but was I going to fork out even £15.50 for the least definable of sherry styles? Yet I have been paying the like for those new season ‘fresh’ finos tagged as En Rama (‘from the branch’).

As it turned out the Cayetano del Pino is among the wine world’s great bargains. Its creators, Bodegas Sánchez Romate – one of the few family-owned operators left in Jerez – are virtually giving away a fortified wine of this quality. Around 15 years old, pale bronze in colour, nutty, dry with a finish as long as the journey south from Madrid.

Aficionados are always complaining/gloating that the fortified wines of Jerez are undervalued. Image problem, you know? And of all sherry image problems, Palo Cortado’s is the thorniest. So Is it a heavier Amontillado? Or a lighter Oloroso? Neither. Though some cheap end Palo Cortados may be blends of both.

“It is the most ambiguous of all the sherry styles and the reverence with which it is regarded is undoubtedly fuelled by its air of mystery and legend…” write the authors of Sherry, Manzanilla & Montilla

Without going into technicalities, Palo Cortado has been the black sheep of the sherry-making process since the 19th century. This process is based on the unique solera system of maturation across a large number of casks and fractional blending over many years. 

A key to a young sherry’s development towards Amontillado status is the protective layer of ‘flor’ or yeasty bloom that settles on the surface of the base fino. Serendipitously it fails to persist in certain cask batches, the subsequent oxygen contact encouraging more intense flavour and alcohol. Each cask is then re-fortified to over 17 per cent and shifted to a Palo Cortado solera to age oxidatively.

Once a matter of chance but with modern techniques it’s down to manipulation. Cortado fans can spend far more than 15 quid on what is a rarity, representing only one per cent of all sherry made.


The name means ‘cut stick,’ in reference to the mark made on the cask when this style of wine is recognised. Since the wine was originally destined to be a fino or amontillado, it will initially have had a single stroke marked on the cask. When the cellar master realises that the wine is becoming a palo cortado, he draws a cross (or cut) through the initial stroke (or stick), resulting in a crossed stroke or ‘cut stick’.

A fond memory from visiting Jerez was tasting in the cellars of Bodegas Rey Fernando de Castilla in the company of its avuncular owner, the Norwegian Jan Pettersen. I particularly love their Pedro Ximenez but the Antique Palo Cortado is equally distinctive. Boutinot Wines of Cheadle import the range and at each annual Manchester tasting I’d renew acquaintance of this honeyed, saline, finessed example.

For the moment, though, the Cayetano del Pino has stolen my heart. And not mine alone. One of my favourite wine writers, Rose Murray Brown reviewed it thus: “Lovely combo of vibrant freshness and rich texture. Our tasters loved the enticing toffee honeyed aromas and rich nutty complexity (and the pretty label). Bone dry, but not as searingly dry as some we tasted. Sleek elegant and attractive on the palate.”

What is the best food match for it, though? It would be easy, as with Amontillado or Oloroso, to sip it with a bowl of nuts, but it does enhance certain partnerships.

The obvious one is cheese, particularly hard cheese. My compadre and Spanish food guru Gerry Dawes, from New York, opined: ”I stopped using red table wines, really good ones, with cheese quite some time ago. Cheese completely changes the make-up of the red wine, and you lose the nuances. Sherry has enough elements that it stands out in relief.”

Triple cream cheeses might work, but i’m not sure; aged Alpine cheeses are definitely a perfect fit. 

Princess Alisia Victoria is just the kind of Alpine cheese that pairs beautifully with Palo Cortado

I’m lucky enough to have within 10 minutes’ walk, the Calder Cheesehouse, which has a delectable range of unpasteurised Beaufort, Comte, Gruyere and, more under the radar, Schlossberger and Princess Alisia-Victoria, both from Switzerland. In France’s Jura region, which we visited pre-Pandemic, the recognised accompaniment for Comte is the local, oxidised Vin Jaune, that has affinities with Palo Cortado. 

In Southern Spain itself it matches well with Iberico lomo or salchichon; at home in Todmorden we tried it successfully with a mixed charcuterie platter (air dried ham, lomo, culatello and coppa) from local producers Porcus. The sherry and cured fat make good buddies. Grilled fish seems to work with Palo Cortado, sardines and anchovies, too, but I’m not convinced about smoked salmon.

Pour a glass of the Cayetano del Pino Palo Cortado Solera, your charcuterie platter awaits

• For a succint explanation of Palo Cortado’s history and current specification visit the specialist website Sherry Notes or better still read Rose Murray Brown’s Masterclass on Palo Cortado.

What do the composer of the William Tell Overture and a Liverpool charcutier trained in South West France have in common? A love of Cotechino. No, not the name of some cynical Juventus centre back but the most amazing poaching sausage I’ve left it far too long to discover.

Bel Canto maestro Gioachino Rossini was forever ordering this speciality of Modena in his native Italy, along with its culinary cousin, the sausage-stuffed pig’s trotter called Zampone. Both winter seasonal delicacies are based on the uncompromisingly porkiest bits – real nose to tail stuff. Modena, not short of World Heritage recognition for its buildings, was also assigned Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) for Cotechino Modena in 1999.

I ordered my debut Cotechino nearer home from North by Sud-Ouest Charcuterie, its bits sourced from free range rare breed pigs on the Wirral. It arrived as part of a £40 ‘Large Selection Box’ showcasing the pork-curing talents of one Andrew Holding.

Also in the pack, weighing in at over a kilo, were sliced selections of coppa (cured pork collar), cured pork loin and goula, the jowl bacon called guanciale in Italy; the spreading sausage nduja, two whole saucisses sec, lardons of Ventrêche (which formed a bacony base for a Coq au Vin) and whole, chunky, grey Cotechino bulging out of its natural casing.

If Andrew follows the traditional recipe, it is made from high fat content meat from cheek, neck, shoulder, fatback, and lots of pork rind, seasoned with salt, pepper, nutmeg and coriander. Made fresh in Modena, it would traditionally take hours to poach in simmering water until the rind softened to give the characteristic melting texture. The essence of Slow Food. 

My take on Cotechino with mustard and lentils

Here, pre-prepared and vacuum packed, it took just 20 minutes to warm through. 

These days most North Italians would do the same. They would also serve it, as I did, with lentils and mostarda di Cremona. For my Cotechino e Lenticchie I used the French Le Puy variety because they are incomparable; the mostarda, a mustardy candied fruit preserve, came (via Alexander’s Mediterranean Pantry on Todmorden Market) from its Cremona heartland, 90 minutes north west of Modena.

Mostarda di Cremona – if you’re making your own handle with care

Lockdown had me creating many pickle and relishes from scratch but life really is too short (again). I was put off mostarda making by my mentor in most things hardcore Italian, Jacob Kenedy, chef patron of Soho’s Bocca di Lupo. In his Bocca Cookbook (Bloomsbury, £30) he writes: “The day you are satisfied that the fruit is candied and the syrup thick enough, procure some essential oil of mustard. This may not be easy to find and should be handled like TNT. Rubber gloves must be worn, wear some glasses too and the bottle shouldn’t be sniffed directly. This may sound over-cautious – but it is a dangerous and irritant substance before dilution in the mostarda.

Andrew Holding has imported European charcuterie skills to Liverpool

Jacob, London-born and Cambridge educated so hardly a peasant, also crafts his Cotechino from scratch. Caveats here include the necessity of sourcing skin-on pig’s cheeks. Worth it because “lots of glands and gnarly bits in the jowl give an incredible roundness of flavour”. Pigskin is tough, used for making shoes, so Jacob advises it might be worth asking your already obliging butcher to mince meat and skin together through a 4.5mm plate. When the spiced mince  mixture is finally encased there’s a lot of sausage hanging to be done.

Better to buy one from North by Sud-Ouest or alternatively from Coombeshead Farm a restaurant with rooms featured in the recent Rick Stein’s Cornwall BBC series.

Best of all, when travel restrictions are lifted, head for the Emilia Romagna region at New Year, where they put into practice the old maxim ‘del maiale non si butta via niente’ (pigs are used till the last bit), with cotechino and zampone the centrepiece of celebrations. The lentil accompaniment to the former is believed to bring luck in the year ahead. If the mustard oil hasn’t blasted you first!