Usually the South West is associated with alcohol (cider), cheese (Cheddar) and pasties (Cornish) but in recent years, the output from the region of the delicatessen favourite, charcuterie, has increased. Truly South West charcuterie is booming.
Charcuterie, as the name implies, is a word imported from the French, but its meaning is simple in English: cooked meat, or rather “the branch of cooking devoted to prepared meat products, such as bacon, ham, sausage, terrines, galantines, ballotines, pâtés, and confit, primarily from pork.”
The history of charcuterie can be traced back to the first century AD, where according to sources Strabo recorded the import of salted meat from Gaul. The Romans (although not a genre commonly recognised for their adherence to health and hygiene) may actually have been the first to standardise the charcuterie trade as they regulated the proper production of pork joints.
However, it was the French who had the most influence. In 15th-century France, local guilds regulated tradesmen in the food production industry in each city, with the charcutier preparing pâtés, rillettes, sausages, bacon, trotters, and head cheese.
British and South West Charcuterie
Now, British producers are starting take a large slice of the market, and the South West Charcuterie is as good as anything you’ll find on the continent and where some producers have had to get creative with temperature-adjustable drying rooms mimicking a hotter European climate, others simply air-dry their charcuterie naturally.
Companies such as The Real Boar Company based in the Cotswolds, and The Bath Pig are flourishing. The Real Boar Co. offers air-dried Wiltshire salamis. Choose from Wild Boar and Red Wine Salami, Wild Boar Chorizo with Red Wine and Cotswold Game Salami with Port. The free range boar are to be found roaming onsite, on 20 acres of woodland, feeding on a diet of acorns and cherries! The Bath Pig was set up in 2009 producing its own British chorizo in a range of different flavours, which bear the RSPCA Freedom Food logo.
Deli Farm Charcuterie produces an award-winning range of Cornish salami, coppa and bresaola, supplying a wide selection of air dried salami and hams, sourcing local sustainable meat and using renewable energy.
Capreolus Fine Foods offer the finest, locally-sourced English charcuterie and smoked foods in Rampisham, West Dorset. The company website states that “Curing of the meat follows age-old traditional techniques combined with a flair and instinct for flavour. Air-drying of the cured meat is carried out in temperature and humidity controlled rooms to overcome the vagaries of the British weather. Smoke is used to enhance the flavour of some of the meats and we use beech wood chips which give a delicate flavour that never dominates.”
Topsham in Devon is the home of the Good Game company, offering charcuterie deliciously called Devon Black Coppa, Devon Ruby Biltong, Topsham Chorizo, Venison Bresaola, Venison Burger, Devon Ruby Burger.
No matter where you go, there are companies that offer South West charcuterie that rivals the best and most well-known meats on the continental market, so when you next fancy a charcuterie board, why not source locally and see what may well be on the doorstep?