A lesson in Charcuterie by 12 Pigs – Crush visits.
Is it just my perception, or is it true that all of the best artisanal products start in the back of someone’s garage?
Young chef Charles Joubert, now charcuterer at 12 Pigs Deli started experimenting with cured meats while working in a restaurant in Europe. The bug bit and he came back to Cape Town to pursue his passion for curing the finest meats.
The first challenge was to find a good source of free-range and preferably hormone- free pork. Charles found one of his chosen suppliers in Grabouw in the Western Cape of South Africa where their pigs eat a natural diet, which enhances the texture and complex flavour of the meat. Wild Boar is also something Charles has experimented successfully with. He has even spent nights in a conservancy near Wellington trying to get a glimpse of the elusive, free roaming wild boar.
It was then a matter of finding high quality herbs and spices and a good source of wine, which he found at Anura Wines. He admits this was slightly easier than tracking wild boar in the pitch dark!
12 Pigs Charcuterie has a small, but great selection of hand crafted cured meats. Charles tells us, “I want to perfect what we are doing. I want to do fewer meats rather than an array of flavours that are half way there.” This focused philosophy is why he is getting such fantastic results.
The 12 Pigs range includes Beef Bresaola and Coppa. Both of these are cured in mixture of red wine, juniper berries, garlic and bay leaves for 2 weeks and turned continuously. The meat is then hung and small amount of mould is allowed to grow on the outside of the meat. This apparently adds to the flavour and curing process. It is then scrubbed away with water the first time before being sprayed with white wine. There is real art in timing and getting the flavour right. 12 Pig’s Coppa is beautiful to look at with the marbling of fat in the meat, but of course, it’s even better to eat.
12 Pigs makes two types of fresh sausage. One is an Italian style sausage. Charles eagerly states, “ This sausage is all about developing complex flavours” I understood completely as the sweeter flavours of fennel came through first combined with the meat and a slight bite of fresh chilli at the end.
The other sausage is a cooking chorizo quite different to your brightly coloured chorizo. He uses all natural ingredients and has rough, boerewors-like texture. Strong flavours of chilli come through but do not overwhelm the flavour of the meat. It works well with most pastas and or tossed into a salad too.
12 Pig’s salami’s are fantastic with loads of flavor, and again, you will notice the layers of complex flavour that come through.
Charles also does legs of Prosciutto or Parma style ham. This generally takes at least a year and a half to complete depending on weight. It is also a painstaking task of salting, resting, washing and drying, curing, greasing with fat and lard and then one final seven month hall of curing again. The meat is tested all throughout the process, checking that the salt levels are correct and that the meat has not dried out too much. The temperature and humidity have to be rigidly controlled so that the drying process is slow – apparently winter is better for curing salami and Bresaola.
12 Pigs products have received the nod from some of SA’s top chefs and are being used in their kitchens. Look out for this lovely handcrafted meat, which is available at a number of delis and stores. Even better, pop by The Trading Post Eatery and Deli at Anura Wine Farm, Simondium, to experience it and taste it at the source.
Hooray for independent, artisanal guy that has the guts to start his craft from the garage!
UPDATE: The 12 Pigs range now includes salami, calabese, 2 types of chorizo, Rosette de Lyon, beef bresaola, Coppa and Parma hams, Sausison Sec and Spanish Salchion.
12 Pigs at Anura Vineyards
Simondium Road, Klapmuts, WC
021 875 5360