Charcutería: The Soul of Spain explores the time-honoured Spanish culinary traditions of curing meat and fish.

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Charcutería: The Soul of Spain by Jeffrey Weiss (foreword by James Beard award-winning chef José Andrés.)

Price: $49.95
Pages: 464
Availability: Major retailers

The Goods

Providing a comprehensive introduction to authentic Spanish butchering techniques with more than 100 recipes, this book aims to be the guide to Spanish cured meat traditions for both professional and hobbyist charcuterie enthusiasts. Jeffrey Weiss is an American chef hailing from California, and the recipes are presented in a manner that is accessible to those without knowledge of Spanish ingredients. Weiss celebrates the diverse foods and rich culture of Spain, and stays true to the traditions of cured meat.

North America is embracing the return of small-scale artisan traditions, and this is helping charcuterie gain its popularity. Until recently, the art of charcuteria was “underrepresented, misunderstood and largely unheard of,” in this part of the world.

Charcutería: The Soul of Spain is a thorough representation of the history of charcuteria and the evolution of ritual pig slaughters to industrialized charcuterie. A notable and informative section is chapter three: ‘Salt, Meat, Love and Time’. It explains Spanish-style butchery, which uses various methods and cuts.

Chapters Include

  • Chapter 1: Who’s Your Papi; Chulo?
  • Chapter 2: The Secreto Of The Secreto
  • Chapter 3: Salt, Meat, Love, And Time
  • Chapter 4: Salamueras y Salazones
  • Chapter 5: Adobos
  • Chapter 6: Escabeche
  • Chapter 7: Conservas y Confits
  • Chapter 8: Embuitdos
  • Chapter 9: Pâtés y Terrinas
  • Chapter 10: Guarniciónes y Salsas
  • Chapter 11: Postres y Licores
  • Purveyors and Other Cool People
  • Kitchen Lingo: A Glossary Of La Cocina Española
  • Knowledge Is Power: Where to Learn More About Charcuterie

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What we Made

I chose to make Garbanzos Con Butifarra Negra (page 285), specifically because I had been to bar Pinoxta in the La Boquiera, Barcelona and had the pleasure of eating this dish—it was absolutely delicious!
For my own variation, I bought the blood sausage from a local butcher to save some time. The recipe itself was not that complicated and most of the ingredients were easy to find. The one ingredient I had to substitute was sherry, as the recommended brand is not available at the LCBO.

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Final Thoughts

This book taught me a great deal about myself. First of all, I love cute illustrations with a lot of personality. Secondly, even though I am a die-hard, unapologetic, die-hard charcuterie fanatic, I really don’t enjoy making it (at least I thought I did, until now). Fans of this book can still lean on me for a good pickle to adorn their boards, but I likely will not be curing meats in the near future—curing meat takes up a lot of space, and my tiny condo kitchen doesn’t have much.

I found the recipes themselves to be somewhat difficult to follow. Within the list of ingredients there was often a reference to another recipe, from another page. This made it difficult to understand what was involved, without doing some flipping around. Having very little experience with Spanish cooking, I had to continuously look up ingredients as they were listed in Spanish only (a bracket with the English term ‘blood sausage’ would have been helpful). I also found it difficult to source some of the recommended ingredients in Toronto. In the end, the dish was tasty, but far too oily and in hindsight, I should have used half of the recommended oil.

Regardless, it was a nice read and was very educational. The breakdown of Spanish butchery alone is worth the purchase for any novice butcher.

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Reccomendations

People with basic to intermediate knowledge of sausage making, people who are not squeamish, those who want a glimpse into Spanish butchery and meat-curing culture, and anyone with enough kitchen space (only the bravest of condo-dwellers will be able to recreate most dishes).

Photos by Jason Kan

JenJennifer Myers Chua is an art director, Asian-food enthusiast, and all-around creative type. Obsessed with culinary pursuits and whitespace, Jennifer spends her days working as a freelance designer and contributing blogger. She spends her nights deconstructing recipes in her mostly all-white loft with her mostly all-white French bulldog. You can check out more of what she does at www.jennifermyerschua.com.

 

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