Tasty Salted Pig Parts

“Tasty salted pig parts,” the sign on the sidewalk read. “Pig parts! We had to come check it out!” one man exclaimed as he pushed open the door of San Francisco restaurant Incanto. Inside, a new experiment was in progress. Incanto chef Chris Cosentino and business partner Mark Pastore were distributing boxes of pig parts, turned tasty by their new salumi factory, Boccalone. Pig parts! I had to write about it. You can check out my item in the February issue of Gourmet magazine. The artisanal cured meats are sold almost exclusively through subscription to the company’s Salumi Society. Members sign up for three months, which entitles them to pick up two goodie boxes per month. Pastore says one of the main reasons for this CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) type of model is that distributing directly to consumers allows them to keep production small and personal. “We’d need to make 8-10 times more product to turn a profit if we were selling through the normal channels,” he figures, “Plus, we get to interact with people, to find out what they like and don’t like.” Boccalone makes nearly two dozen types of meat products, from dry-cured or brine-cured to fresh sausage. What’s inside the subscription boxes depends on what’s ready at the time. The boxes come in two sizes, the Piglet ($29 for about 2 pounds of products) and the Boar ($49 for about 3.5 pounds). The crowd was sucking up samples an amazing Prosciutto Cotto, or cooked ham, which was brined with clove, allspice, sugar and pepper – easily the best ham I’ve ever tasted. The Boar box booty included the heavenly ham, plus Spicy Italian Sausage, Mortadella, Soppressata di Calabria, Capocollo and Paté di Campagna. At $14 a pound, this might seem a bit steep – but when you consider the artisanal quality and the fact that there’s no waste, the price isn’t so tough to swallow. Cosentino and Pastore have even created a manifesto, which implies we can cure society by curing meats: Salumi encourage us to live a patient life in pursuit of flavor, rather than a relentless hunt for ever-increasing quantity – seek better, not more. This approach is not only good for the individual, it’s better for the world. After tasting that Prosciutto Cotto, I’m a believer.
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