Bernardo Flores, Master Butcher
Taking out the pig
Every few weeks, Il Buco receives a half dozen or so split hogs weighing over 150 pounds each.
The bigger the saw, the better.
First the ribs are separated from the belly and back.
Removing the trotters
The feet are given to the cooking staff for use in terrines and head cheese.
The various cuts from all the pigs are separated out in the cutting room for their future uses. Most of the bellies seen here will end up as pancetta.
The rib cages are set aside and used for the restaurant's family meal.
The rear legs are salted and aged for prosciutto.
Muscles from the shoulder are removed to become coppa.
Coarse salt is the seasoning of choice here.
The rest of the shoulder is cut into smaller pieces to be used for salumi.
The skin is removed from the thick layer of fat on the pig's back.
Some of the fatback is cured for lardo, but most of it is paired with the shoulder meat for the salumi. Fatback is useful for fine-tuning a sausage's fat content, one of the essentials for good sausage making.
The pork is weighed and batched in the proportions that the salumi recipes call for.
All the meat for the salumi goes in a fast chiller before being ground—meat grinds more evenly and cleanly when cold.
Firmer chilled meat passes through the grinder more easily, keeping its fat intact.
Out the grinder
Bernardo assembles salts and seasoning for the cure.
Exact ingredients are a trick of the trade, but salt, spice, and herbs form the foundation of the cure.
On it goes
The dry cure ingredients, as well as wine and garlic, are initially mixed in by hand.
Mechanical meat mixing
The seasoned meat is then put in a large stand mixer which evenly distributes the cure and seasoning as well as emulsifies the meat into a firmer mass. Sausage casings keep meat contained, but mixing like this encourages the meat's protein to adhere better to itself.
Thoroughly mixed meat
The meat is mixed until it's a little sticky but not quite a paste.
The emulsified meat is pushed into casings and rolled together.
These links will eventually become Cacciatorino sausages, sold at the counter upstairs and served on sandwiches and charcuterie plates.
Small holes are pricked into the sausage to remove air bubbles.
Larger salumi, like the finocciona, seen here, use a thicker bung casing.
Fresh finocciona, tied
The salumi hangs in a sealed, climate controlled case for two to three months before it's called into service. As they dry, they shrink down considerably.
Finocchiona on display
Ready for grateful world.