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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

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

Tags: 5 Questions