Vermont Cured Meat Entrepreneurs Do It Euro-Style
by Suzanne Podhaizer, Seven Days VT
Posted: 2018-01-12 15:48:00 EST

What isn't better with a little bit of bacon? Strips of cured and smoked pork belly show up on nearly every restaurant menu: in breakfast sandwiches, as a crunchy topping on burgers and as a necessary ingredient in pasta carbonara. Over the last few years, bacon — sometimes called "the gateway meat" for its ability to tempt vegetarians back to flesh — has even made its way into cocktails, candies and chocolate desserts.

While nearly everyone is familiar with bacon, not everyone knows that it — and its first cousin, ham — are examples of charcuterie. The French term sounds fancy, but it refers to something elemental: meats that are preserved so that they will store better. Some kinds of charcuterie can last for weeks or months; others, such as jerky, have an almost indefinite shelf life.

There are many ways to prevent flesh from spoiling. Strips or hunks can be dried in the sun or smoked over flavorful woods. They can be salted or brined and hung in a cool place until somewhat desiccated. They can be cooked slowly in fat until tender and then packed away in crocks to be kept in a root cellar or other cool place. Nearly every culture has its own recipes for these types of long-lasting and delicious meats.

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