Take the cure: the hunger for British charcuterie

Cannon & Cannon

British charcuterie and cheeses are in demand in bars, pubs and restaurants, reports Mark Ludmon

Since Drake & Morgan opened its first bar The Refinery in London’s Bankside in 2008, it has featured charcuterie on its menus. However, in April, they switched from Spanish meats to British. “There are a number of reasons for this, including the fact that in my opinion British charcuterie has improved in quality of late,” explains the group’s executive chef Robert Michell. “It has also become a lot better value than before – cost is always a prohibitive factor. British charcuterie is now more affordable, allowing everyday dining restaurants like ours to showcase them.”

Working with supplier Harvey & Brockless, Drake & Morgan offers sliced chorizo and salami from Suffolk Salami and sliced cured venison salami from Great Glen Charcuterie in Scotland. Since introducing them, sales of charcuterie have increased. “The selection process for our menu is all about quality of product: being proud of what Britain produces and being ambassadors for our artisan craftsmen,” Robert adds. “The fact that the product is sourced locally helps to make the dish more appealing to the customer.”

Farmers Ian and Sue Whitehead, who run Suffolk Salami with their daughter Rebecca, started making salami after a trip to Italy 10 years ago. As well as their salami made with Suffolk pork plus salt, spices, peppercorns, garlic and a little red wine, they offer two alternative salamis with fennel and rosemary as well as chorizo. “Ten years ago, people didn’t want to know about British salami but, thanks to celebrity chefs and food festivals, there is a lot more interest now,” Rebecca says. Having built a second drying room last year, they supply on-trade customers such as Young’s and Greene King pubs.

Both British charcuterie and cheeses are in more demand, according to Harvey & Brockless, formerly Cheese Cellar. Alongside meats from Spain and Italy, its UK partners include Deli Farm Charcuterie in Cornwall and Woodall’s which has been a leader in British charcuterie for eight generations after being founded in 1828. Harvey & Brokless’s huge selection of British cheeses, from Quickes in Devon and Bath Soft to Winterdale in Kent and Whalesborough Farm in Cornwall, is also proving popular for patriotic platters in bars.

British cured meats are ideal for pairing with drinks, according to Sean Cannon who, with brother Joe, set up charcuterie supplier Cannon & Cannon in 2010. They partnered Czech brewer Pilsner Urquell for sessions at June’s Taste of London festival, matching different serves of the beer with the likes of Cornish Seaweed & Cider salami from Cornish Charcuterie and biltong made with Yorkshire beef by Limpopo Butchers (pictured).

Cannon & Cannon provides wine pairing ideas as part of its range of tastings and hands-on butchery and curing courses at its Meat School in London’s Borough Market. The matches, devised with on-trade supplier Jascots Wine Merchants, include Oxsprings whole air-dried ham with the crisp, dry Mon Rosé de Montrose from Côtes de Thongue, Trealy Farm veal and sage salami with Moulin-à-Vent red from Château de Belleverne in Beaujolais, and Capreolus air-dried smoked mutton with the intense, fruity red Montevannos Roble from Ribera del Duero in Spain. It highlights the opportunities for bars to tap into this growing trend. “Britain used to be really well-known for its charcuterie,” Sean adds. “It’s now having a real renaissance.”

Pilsner Urquell Cannon & Cannon

Originally published in the August 2015 print edition of Bar magazine.

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