5 Questions

5 Questions with The Fatted Calf

October  8, 2013

We're sitting down with our favorite writers and cooks to talk about their upcoming cookbooks, their best food memories, and just about anything else.

Today: If you've ever wanted to make your own pancetta, terrines, and porchetta, this is the book for you 

In the Charcuterie  Taylor and Toponia

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At San Francisco's The Fatted Calf, Taylor Boetticker and Toponia Miller have created a one-stop-shop for all things meat: You can take a class on whole hog butchery; buy fresh, smoked or cured meats; or have them wrap and season your tenderloin when you're just not feeling up to it. 

And now, with In the Charcuterie: The Fatted Calf's Guide to Making Sausage, Salumi, Pâtés, Roasts, Confits, and Other Meaty Goods, Taylor and Toponia are translating their knowledge into a package of recipes and tips suitable for the home kitchen. Their first book is a compendium of recipes, a thorough primer on techniques ranging from basic to advanced, and a guide for aspiring charcutiers everywhere. 

Today, the husband-and-wife team talk to us about all things meat -- and they're giving away 5 copies of their book! Read on, carnivores.

How did you first become interested in charcuterie?
When I enrolled at the Culinary Institute in Hyde Park, NY I was actually still a vegetarian but I vowed to myself to keep an open mind. Much to my surprise, my favorite class was a charcuterie course where we learned to stuff sausage and make bacon. After my husband, Taylor Boetticher, and I were married we spent some time traveling and working in Europe. We wound up working for a butcher in Panzano, a small town south of Florence. That sealed the deal on my love affair with meat.

More: Get Taylor and Toponia's recipe for classic American meatloaf.

Meatloaf on Food52 

What's the easiest type of charcuterie to make at home?
We usually recommend starting with a more simple, cooked preparation such as rillettes or duck liver mousse, which can be made in a relatively short amount of time using the type of equipment you would typically find in a home kitchen. It's a good idea to take a realistic look at your work space, batterie de cuisine, and time constraints when choosing what to make.

What's your favorite thing to do with bacon?
I'm pretty much spoiled as far as bacon goes. There is nearly always a tray of warm bacon fresh out of the smoker at The Fatted Calf kitchen and the ultimate treat is to tear off a little end piece. I am also a huge fan of hot, crispy bacon lardons in a salad of chicories or dandelion greens.

More: Bacon and frisée pair nicely in Salade Lyonnaise, too. 

Salade Lyonnaise on Food52

How do you cook with cured meats, aside from eating them plain, or as toppings for pizza or sandwiches?
I often use a bit of pancetta or bacon to start a soup, sauce, or pot of beans. I love to sauté kale and mustard greens with a little lardo or guanciale. Spanish chorizo is a favorite to pair with beans or chickpeas. In general, a little goes a long way in terms of flavor. 

What's the most important piece of advice that you would give to first-time salumi makers?
Be patient and start small. Maybe your goal is to make your own prosciutto but better to start with a small project like guanciale (cured pork jowl) until you get a feel for it.

Want to start making charcuterie at home? We're giving away 5 copies of In The Charcuterie! To enter, tell us in the comments: What's your favorite thing to do with bacon? We'll pick winners at random this Friday, October 11th at 3 PM, EST. Unfortunately, we can only ship to addresses in the continental US.

Salad Photo by James Ransom

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • ieredraider
  • cucina di mammina
    cucina di mammina
  • Patricia Starkey
    Patricia Starkey
  • andyk
  • BreAnna Tosser
    BreAnna Tosser
Marian Bull

Written by: Marian Bull



ieredraider October 9, 2013
Bacon Pate!! use the leftover bits from sliced homemade bacon to combine with pork liver (locally sourced!), spices, and sun dried tomatoes.
cucina D. October 9, 2013
I love to eat cured meats and bacon along with fresh bitter greens and salad mixtures. The balance of rich, smoky and salty with the grass-like flavor and texture of the greens is out if this world. Try baby arugula, shaved parmigiana, chunks of cooked farm-style crisp bacon dressed only with a drizzle of olive oil and healthy squeeze of lemon. Love this anytime of the day.
Patricia S. October 9, 2013
Sautee diced bacon and add to warm cooked pasta, along with the rendered fat. Toss in lots of fresh garden tomatoes, several handsful of arugula, whatever fresh herbs are in abundance and some crumbled blue cheese. Salt, pepper and some reserved pasta water if necessary. Yum ! So sad that summer is winding down.
andyk October 9, 2013
Shredded greens sauteed with bacon
BreAnna T. October 9, 2013
My favorite thing to do with bacon is to use it in a basic pasta recipe. I roast cherry tomatoes in the oven as the bacon is cooking, then simmer them in the leftover grease with pasta water to make a pan sauce. The bacon gets crumbled on top of the pasta.
David S. October 9, 2013
I like to take extremely thick cut uncured pork belly and marinated in my teriyaki cracked black pepper jerky 3marinade. Then cold smoke it for 6 hours at about 190 degrees. if heat is desired use Tabasco chipotle sauce. Oh my!
Lim S. October 9, 2013
I add it in with Mac and cheese or mic it with meatloaf
Alex H. October 9, 2013
I like to get a pork belly from the local butcher and cure my own bacon, lets me have fun with adding different things like apple juice and cinnamon or paprika to the cure.
dennis October 8, 2013
I make an all meat chile the recipe calls for a whole pound and very spicy
ChristianArca October 8, 2013
Love using bacon to give traditional spanish migas (Aragonese style) that rich smoky and savory taste that the stale bread loves to soak up. Paired with some roasted grapes and an egg - it's simple and absolutely delicious.
AnnaBell October 8, 2013
Bacon and ricotta on a pizza.
walkie74 October 8, 2013
Flavoring for hearty greens like mustard and turnip. Yum!
LLStone October 8, 2013
I love BLTs, bacon and eggs, and wedge salads w/ crispy back on blue cheese.
LLStone October 8, 2013
*crispy bacon and blue cheese.
Karin K. October 8, 2013
BACON WRAPPED SCALLOPS are the Best!! We love them so much that we requested them specially for our wedding in August. YUM!!
hardlikearmour October 8, 2013
Last weekend my husband made a fantastic pizza with butternut squash, pears, chard, and bacon. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.
Kacia October 9, 2013
what was the base/sauce, if any?
steve October 8, 2013
I always lattice bacon over roasts and other braised meats for added flavor. Also, LOVE it as a garnish on my bloody Mary!
sexyLAMBCHOPx October 8, 2013
Enjoying BLT's, candied bacon with cocktails, and bacon jam as a condiment for sandwiches and biscuits.
NDavid October 8, 2013
Bacon, ripe juicy tomatoes, buttery avocado and great whole wheat bread slathered with really good mayonnaise and maybe, just maybe, the whole shebang grilled in bacon grease might be the shortest path to heaven. Cornbread with chiles and bacon might be the next best thing.
EmilyUni October 8, 2013
I just made chocolate cupcakes with candied bacon on top. Wonderful!
magproctor October 8, 2013
While I do love bacon on pizza, I think my answer has to be straight up, accompanying french toast or pancakes