Saturday, March 26, 2011

Installment 2: Cypress Artisan Meat Share

If you want a taste of why Cypress's Craig Deihl is a finalist for this year's James Beard Foundation's Best Chef Southeast Award, just try a sample from the big brown sack of goodies he calls the Artisan Meat Share.

The second installment of this year's share hit the streets last weekend, and here's just a sample:

For the record, here's the inventory:

1. Pork pate
2. Hard salami
3. Lonza (cured pork loin with crushed red& black pepper, thyme, and bay leaf)
4. Picante salami
5. Pecan-smoked bacon
6. "City" Ham - a big, round slice of ham cured with salt, brown sugar, crushed red pepper, bay leaf and time and smoked with pecan wood
7. And the capper . . . Pork butter.

I've had pork butter before, but I wasn't exactly sure what went into it.   It's not, as you might think, really a bunch of lard.  Instead, as Deihl was nice enough to explain to me when I stopped in to pick up my bag, it's starts with the crispy bits of meat left after Deihl and crew finish rendering out lard from fatty pork.  They take those bits, grind them fine, and whip them into butter and marscapone cheese.  And it's sinfully creamy and delicious.

And as a bonus--which I forgot to include the in picture and now are long gone--was a small bag of fresh fried pork rinds.

Diehl's up against some formidable competition for the Beard award: Andrea Reusing of Lantern in Chapel Hill, Hugh Acheson of Athens's Five & Ten,  Linton Hopkins of Restaurant Eugene and Holman & Finch in Atlanta, Edward Lee of Magnolia 610 in Louisville, and John Fleer, formerly of Tennessee's Blackberry Farm and now at Canyon Kitchen in Cashiers, North Carolina.

I'll just slip the Beard judges a little dab of pork butter on a freshly baked biscuit.  That'll seal the deal for our local contender.

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