So it’s been a month since Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn’s Salumi arrived from Amazon and I’m just now getting a chance to sit down and take a good look at it.
One of the first things Salumi does, and it’s important to note here as well, is define the word salumi, at least insomuch as it’s represented in this book. Salumi is, in short, the Italian word for cured meats. Not to be confused with salami, which is a type of salumi. Confused yet? If not, and in case you are wondering, the prefix sal- is derived from the Latin word for “salt”, like so many of our favorite words like… salary… and salsa! Long live salt!
In keeping with the name, and unlike Charcuterie, Salumi is heavily focused on curing (dry-curing and otherwise), skipping the fresh sausages, terrines and confits presented in Ruhlman and Polcyn’s previous work. It is also pimarily focused on pork, though so was Charcuterie to a lesser degree.
The book starts off plunging us into the concept of whole hog butchery, as it relates to making salumi. It presents two methods of breaking down the beast, American-style and Italian-style, along with ideas on how to use each part.
The chapters that follow include recipe after recipe for various salumi. It’s a far deeper journey into the art than Charcuterie was, which really only scratched the surface and whetted the appetite (though, technically so does this… it’s just a deeper, more serious scratch). Much to my pleasure, after a pretty extensive collection of salami (with an “a”) recipes, Salumi includes an entire section on whole muscle curing, which I’m particularly fond of. Here there is a bit more variation in meat including beef (bresaola), lamb and goose, in addition to the use of venison in the following chapter on “cooked salumi”.
As with Charcuterie, Salumi offers recipes for numerous accompaniments to the products being made. However, unlike the prior publication, Ruhlman and Polcyn take things a step further by supplying ideas on how to serve them as well, including pizzas, pastas, soups and salads, a dimension previously missing.
All-in-all, I think Salumi represents a fantastic follow-up to Charcuterie. It is still written in the same approachable voice. They are not providing a guidebook to the professional, but an excellent workbook to start learning the art. I’m pretty excited about getting a chance to try some of the salumi in this book. The lamb prosciutto looks particularly fun.