With signs to the award-winning Peckish Fish and Chips in Camelford and Aunt Avice’s pasties lighting the way to Deli Farm Charcuterie, I knew I was on the right foodie road. Many skinny lanes and high Cornish hedgerows later, I had reached the wrong place.
One white duck was shimmying into the grass, another balancing on a metal bench and a big cock was kicking out his trousered legs below; it was clear that the feathered ones were in control here. While not the Deli Farm Charcuterie itself, Deli Farm belongs to Jean’s in-laws and the meat production takes place a few metres up the road. I was not so wrong after all.
Last weekend, DFC launched their ‘Spicy Chorizo’, a big sell-out at the Cornwall Food and Drink Festival. Chorizo seems to have snuck in as a rather ubiquitous ingredient of late – it is now featured in so many recipes and cookbooks. With Rick Stein shouting about the virtues of pimentón (Spanish paprika) in his ‘Spain’ cookbook, Niamh Shields introducing us to the delights of chorizo in cider and Nigel Slater combining the red sausage with tomatoes and chickpeas, it is the zeitgeist on the table. Tasty, exotic and reasonably priced, I can understand why.
Chorizo at DFC is made from selected muscles from pork shoulder, not the leg, as is used in Deli Farm’s award winning salami. The effect is a fine sausage that still has the chunkiness of your average chorizo but without the gristle. As well as their range of salami, DFC also offers such unusual delights as duck prosciutto – a delicious version of the French classic that has body and texture; beef bresaola, venison bresaola, smoked lamb prosciutto, seasonal black truffle salami, coppa, pancetta and not forgetting Knob Ends (self-explanatory) and the Devil’s Pokers (slender salami sticks).
Jean’s inspiration for the business that supplies some of Cornwall’s finest restaurants and chefs (Fifteen Restaurant, Nathan Outlaw and Paul Ainsworth, as well Gidleigh Park and Gary Rhodes) came from being “bored by the job I was in.” Having had a varied career, from breaking in horses to installing computer systems, Jean met Martin, who is in the renewable energy business as well as farming, and they decided to start a business together. The original idea was pâté and terrines, but on being challenged to do “something different, like salami”, they embraced the idea wholeheartedly.
Through research on the internet and in books, the couple mastered the ancient art of preserving meat. They now dry cure their products with flavoured ‘rubs’ (salt, herbs and spices) that draw out the water and add in extra flavour. Jean explains that “it’s very much a science more than an art – with a raw meat product you have no second chances.”
On the continent meat is usually air dried because of the warmer, drier climate, and to dry a leg can take up anything from 12 months up to two years. The smaller cuts of meat such as coppa, bresaola and pancetta, are normally ready after a few months but at DFC they like to mature them a little longer for better taste.
In the drying room, humidity is critical as the meats dry. This is where just under half of the company’s profits go up in air so to speak: “40% of the weight is lost after trimming and drying”, Jean explains. The upshot however, is that the product doesn’t go off. Sell-by, best before and use-by dates would have had little relevance to the native Indians who hung meat at the top of their teepees so that the smoke would aid the curing process.
The word ‘pepperami’ is a dirty one at the Deli Farm Charcuterie. The provenance and food sourcing here are of a standard far higher than any supermarket equivalents that you can get in this country (we tend to get the unwanted left-overs of the continental cured sausage market). All of the meat is local: pork is from the Cornish Farmhouse Bacon Co., beef and lamb from the local butcher, Cornish venison from the estates and duck will soon be from The Cornish Duck Co.
For more information about products and ordering on-line go to www.delifarmcharcuterie.co.uk or call 01840 214106.