Food Artisans: Brooklyn Cured
When Scott Bridi saw a hole in the marketplace for charcuterie made in New York from local ingredients and with a chef's perspective, he stepped up—and Brooklyn Cured is the result.
Bridi was a line cook at the Gramercy Tavern when the restaurant decided to start a charcuterie program. "They were getting whole pigs and sides of beef, there were just a lot more parts to utilize," he says. The team learned from scratch and through trial and error, using research and their own experiments to figure out how best to make bacon, fresh sausage, smoked sausage, and cured meats.
Bridi moved on to start the charcuterie program at Brooklyn butcher shop Marlow & Daughters, where he says he learned about "working with constraints—space, labor, equipment." But he also learned a lot about butchery and further refined the recipes that he now brings directly to consumers. While a few restaurants do carry his wares—Red Hook's home/made and Cobble Hill's 61 Local among them—Bridi is more focused on selling through specialty shops and at markets like the Brooklyn Flea and Foodshed Market, where meat lovers can find the man himself on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
Texture-wise, he describes his country paté as "more similar to meatloaf than a smooth liver paté," though it's rare to find a meatloaf this sophisticated. Bridi begins by grinding pork butt with pork liver, using just enough of the latter to season the mix. "If liver is overused," he says, "it can be overwhelming: iron-y and metallic." Sourdough bread adds structure and absorbs moisture from the liver, while ruby port, orange zest, black pepper, and fresh herbs and spices round out the flavor. "Pork goes well with fruity things," Bridi explains, with the port adding jammy qualities and the orange zest lending a subtle "Italian influence to a French flavor profile." His new whole-grain beer mustard pops in the mouth like caviar, adding appealing textural contrast and a not-too-sharp mustard flavor that doesn't get in the way of the main event.
Bridi, who was the runner-up in the most recent Next Big Small Brand competition, proudly hails from Bensonhurst. "Being from Brooklyn is an important part of who I am and what I do," he says, citing the influence of the food he ate growing up in the heavily Italian neighborhood on the food he makes now. Some of that influence is more figurative, aiming to continue a tradition in which food "is a magnet for social interaction," while some is more literal: his hot Italian sausage pays homage to "the Italian pork stores where [his] mom used to shop."
Bridi also teaches classes to pass along his hard-won knowledge. Keep an eye on his website for dates and locations of upcoming on sausage-making and pickling classes. And if you catch him before the Super Bowl, you may be able to get your hands on some buffalo chicken sausage, which he's making just for the big game.