Masters of Meat: New Royalty Crowned

By Ed Lefkowicz / Photography By Ed Lefkowicz | February 28, 2017
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Rodrigo Duarte from Caseiro e Bom Gourmet House in Newark, N.J., slicing and serving cured ham from Portugal's Alentejo at the 2017 Charcuterie Masters at Flushing Town Hall. The hams are cured here from pigs imported from Portugal.

Before stainless steel refrigerators, before refrigerators at all, before ice boxes–in other words, a long time ago–someone figured out that meat could be preserved by drying, salting, smoking and sealing it in fat. The result was charcuterie: sausage, pâté, terrine, confit, and ham-making. Most of these are made from pork, possibly because swine were common throughout Europe at its conception.

What started as a utilitarian practice that often involved the use of odd, unattractive or otherwise problematic cuts of meat, has evolved–as culinary practices often do–into something more elegant, both on the palate and visually.

That abbreviated bit of culinary history brings me to the Charcuterie Masters competition at the Flushing Town Hall, where amateurs and pros came to share what they'd produced with the public and to compete for awards.

As soon as the doors to the town hall opened, the unmistakable aromas of charcuterie hit: a blend of smoke and spices with pleasant overtones of fat and herbs, and a tiny spike of vinegar. Two floors of the venue were packed with visitors trying to sample all they possibly could, from North Carolina barbecue to French-style blood sausage, Portuguese-esque Alentejan presunto (think prosciutto) to smoked Alpaca; pork terrine and smoked prime rib of beef. All these treats for the carnivore were tempered by coleslaw, beer, cheeses, and cider.

Queens was represented well with Casa del Chef’s coleslaw with red and green cabbage, crispy carrots and potato foam, M Wells Steakhouse blood sausage, Reuben sandwiches of smoked beef prime rib– all paired perfectly with Finback Brewery’s IPAs. John Brown's Smokehouse took home the People's Choice Award for its smoked prime rib, though Mark Elia of Hudson Valley Sausage won the grand prize.

Photo 1: Flushing, NY - February 25, 2017. Visitors at the 2017 Charcuterie Masters at Flushing Town Hall.
Photo 2: A pork terrine with pork tongue, pistachios, and tarragon by Dickson's Farmstand Meats, in New York's Chelsea Market, at the 2017 Charcuterie Masters at Flushing Town Hall. To the right of the terrine is a duck galantine.
Photo 1: Food historian Francine Segan, the only woman on the panel of judges at the 2017 Charcuterie Masters at Flushing Town Hall.
Photo 2: Cesare Casella, one of the judges for the 2017 Charcuterie Masters at Flushing Town Hall, with a spring of rosemary in his shirt pocket.
Photo 1: Rodrigo Duarte from Caseiro e Bom Gourmet House in Newark, N.J., slicing and serving cured ham from Portugal's Alentejo at the 2017 Charcuterie Masters at Flushing Town Hall. The hams are cured here from pigs imported from Portugal.
Photo 2: Huge Dufour from M Wells Steakhouse in Long Island City, Queens, cooking blood sausage at the 2017 Charcuterie Masters at Flushing Town Hall.
Photo 1: Cheesemaker John Putnum from Thistle Hill Farm of North Pomfret, Vermont, at the 2017 Charcuterie Masters at Flushing Town Hall. Their Tarentaise cheese is modeled after Abondance from the Savoie in France.
Photo 2: Sam, from John Brown's Smokehouse in Long Island City, cutting smoked prime rib of beef for Reubens at the 2017 Charcuterie Masters at Flushing Town Hall. The Smokehouse won the People's Choice Award at the exposition.
Photo 1: The crew from John Brown's Smokehouse on stage accepting the People's Choice Award at the 2017 Charcuterie Masters at Flushing Town Hall.
Photo 2: David Noeth of New York Epicurean Events with the grand prize cleaver at the 2017 Charcuterie Masters at Flushing Town Hall. The grand prize was awarded to Mark Elia of the Hudson Valley Sausage Company.
Photo 1: Visitors at the 2017 Charcuterie Masters at Flushing Town Hall.
Photo 2: Lonza, a dry-cured pork with juniper, by Ends Meat, a whole-animal salumeria in Brooklyn, NY, at the 2017 Charcuterie Masters at Flushing Town Hall.
Photo 1: Huge Dufour from M Wells Steakhouse in Long Island City, Queens, cooking blood sausage at the 2017 Charcuterie Masters at Flushing Town Hall.
Photo 2: Rodrigo Duarte from Caseiro e Bom Gourmet House in Newark, N.J., slicing and serving cured ham from Portugal's Alentejo at the 2017 Charcuterie Masters at Flushing Town Hall. The hams are cured here from pigs imported from Portugal.
Article from Edible Queens at http://ediblequeens.ediblecommunities.com/things-do/masters-meat-new-royalty-crowned
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