5 Ways to Master Salumi

Salumi is the Italian word for charcuterie…the art of curing pork that has been taking place for millenia in Italy.  We are proud to offer “Praise the Lard” … a 2-day course all about the pig—from whole-hog butchery all the way down to the finer points of pâtés—with Chef Brian Polcyn.  Honoring the pig and the ancient craft of charcuterie is Chef Brian’s passion. Since salumi is among the world’s most popular pizza toppings, we are excited to host him at the Pizza University & Culinary Arts Center

Chef Brian Polcyn Charcuterie Chef teaches about whole hog breakdown in front of students

Having owned and worked in restaurants for the past 40 years, Chef Brian has been an instructor of charcuterie at Schoolcraft Culinary school for 20 years, and written two best-selling books on the subject of charcuterie. He has traveled the country with these charcuterie classes for the past six years. “For each course, we procure a heritage hog to promote local farmers. Saving heritage breeds and the small American family farm is one of our primary missions. Our goal is to spread the gospel of charcuterie  and deepen our collective understanding of this extraordinary creature and this ancient craft,” says Chef Brian. When we asked him what his top 5 rules for mastering salumi – these were the tips he gave us: 

Chef Brian Polcyn Charcuterie Chef Headshot
  1. Always start with good pork. Always use heritage breed pigs for charcuterie. The quality of the meat directly relates to the quality of your final product, which means you should know your farmer and how these pigs are raised. As is the case with most cooking, nature is the true artist and a chef is just the crafts-person, the pig shows us that. 
  2. Take your time. Charcuterie is not a 30-minute meal situation, it’s a series of tested principles you should study, practice, and perfect. 
  3. There are no shortcuts. With a craft as ancient and beautiful as charcuterie, there are certain techniques you simply can’t change.  
  4. Butcher with care. Each animal you cut is unique and the breakdown should reflect that. There is no wrong way to cut a pig… unless you let something go to waste.  
  5. There is always more to learn. I’ve been making salami for over 35 years and I’m still honing my skill set. Like a doctor or lawyer practices law, we practice this craft in an effort to continually perfect the flavor profile for a beautiful  finocchiona, Calabrese, pepperoni, etc.   

If you’d like to learn from Chef Brian in a hands-on setting, sign up for our 2-Day Course on October 20-21. The class features: 

  • ½ hog breakdown using European seam butchery techniques for salumi cuts 
    ½ hog breakdown using USDA-style cuts 
    Lectures, discussions of and full demonstrations using all resulting cuts from the hog breakdown, including sausage making, pâtés en terrine, and working with offal. 
  • In-depth discussion and demo of salumi curing, smoking, and drying. 
  • How to utilize these cuts to for great food cost strategies 
  • Tastings and discussions of all products produced in class 
  • The opportunity to talk one-on-one with Polcyn and Ruhlman 
Brian Polcyn Praise the Lard