A centerpiece of the dining room at Old Major is the exposed meat curing case. Chef Justin Brunson built the walk-in showstopper when the restaurant opened, and late last year, the restaurant received its certification for a HACCP plan (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points to ensure food safety). That entitles the LoHi restaurant to produce, cure, and serve its own meats. In January, a charcuterie plate was added to the menu. The selection of five meats, served with various accoutrements, is now a popular item on the dinner and happy hour menus. Because everyone should see it, we took some photos—and we also asked Brunson to give us more details about it all.
Here's what chef Brunson shared:
There are about 20 things in the charcuterie repertoire at the restaurant ranging from lonza, coppa, guanciale, and prosciutto to calabrese salami, pâté, and nduja (a spreadable sausage).
All pork used in the charcuterie at Old Major—Durocs and Berkshire—is raised by McDonald Family Farm in Brush, Colorado.
The sour ale salami is made with local Surette beer brewed by Crooked Stave.
Some of the charcuterie in the meat room will cure for three years.
One of those things is a 50-pound prosciutto leg that came from a 700-pound pig. Apparently larger pigs make for better charcuterie.
There is more nitrate in a large spinach salad than a quarter pound of salami.
The recipes for the salamis were developed through trial and error. The restaurant started out with a base salami recipe and experimented with different flavors.
Chef Spencer Whitaker, who worked with Brunson at Masterpiece Deli, works full time on meat-curing and sausage-making at Old Major. He makes sausages six to seven times a week.
The five things served on the charcuterie plate change depending on what is done in the curing cycle.
There is a chance that you could get these meats for at-home consumption. The chef is researching possibilities for a USDA plant where his cured meats would be produced.