Our guest this evening is the author of five books that have made the New York Times list of top cookbooks: Fat, Bitter, Bones, Odd Bits and Les Os. She’s also won four James Beard awards.
Australian by birth, she left behind a degree in economics and politics to work as a chef, before becoming a writer based in Toronto.
… and that’s where she joins me now live from her home: Welcome to the Sunday Sipper Club Jennifer McLagan!
P.S. Tune in here for our next Live Video Wine Tasting:
We’ll be simultaneously broadcasting on Facebook Live, YouTube Live Stream and Twitter Live Video via Periscope.
Watch previous episodes of the Sunday Sipper Club (SSC) and find out who’s coming up next.
If you’d like to taste along with us, please pick up the following:
Cured spicy sausage
Rillette – duck or pork or a pâté
Serrano – aged ham
The wines we’re tasting will include:
Pierre Sparr Gewurztraminer 2015 Alsace, France
La Vieille Ferme 2016 Cotes Du Ventoux, Rhone A.O.C., France
Thorn-Clarke Grenache Shiraz 2016 Barossa, South Australia
As always, you don’t have to have the exact same wines that I’m tasting. You can still learn the concepts we’re discussing by getting another wine in the same region/grape, for instance go to my search page and type in:
There are plenty of other options to make your shopping easier.
What was the exact moment when you realized that you wanted to write about food, especially the topics you cover? Tell us exactly where you were? What triggered the thought? How did you feel? What was the next step you took to get going on the path?
What’s your favourite failure? Where were you? What happened? How did you feel? What did you do to recover? What did you learn from this experience that made you stronger or better in some regard?
Now take us to the best moment of your career: what happened? (Let’s avoid awards and reviews ;) Where were you? What happened? How did you feel?
Let’s get into pairing the charcuterie with wine. We’ll go piece by piece, and you can tell us what each food is classic charcuterie, any interesting origin stories and how they taste and why.
What are your best tips in preparing a charcuterie platter?
What mistakes do people make when preparing one?
What’s the most memorable charcuterie platter you’ve enjoyed? What was on it? Where were you?
If you’d like to read the comments for this tasting, or make a comment yourself, visit:
Caramelised Bone Marrow
Jennifer McLagan is the author of the widely acclaimed books Bones (2005), Fat (2008), Odd Bits (2011), Bitter (2014) and Les Os (2014). All her books made The New York Times list of top cookbooks and she has won four James Beard Awards. Fat was named the James Beard Cookbook of the Year.
Her book Bitter, was selected by The Guardian as one of the top ten food books, made the list for the Art of Eating prize, and was featured in the Wall Street Journal, New Scientist and British Vogue.
Australian by birth, Jennifer left behind a degree in economics and politics to train in the food business, beginning her professional life in the kitchens of the Southern Cross Hotel in Melbourne. Work as a chef took her to England, where she practiced her trade at Prue Leith’s highly regarded restaurant in London and then in the kitchens of Winfield House, home of the U.S. ambassador.
Jennifer’s work has appeared in Gourmet, Fine Cooking, Food & Drink, and Canada’s Globe & Mail. She has presented at the Adelaide Writers’ Week, Oxford Symposium of Food, Aspen Food & Wine Classic, Slow Food University in Italy, Melbourne Food & Wine Festival, Toronto Terroir Symposium, Saveur Stratford, Ontario, Dartmouth Food Festival, U.K, and Epicurean Classic in Michigan. She is a regular food expert on ABC Overnights with Trevor Chappell.
Equipped with a quirky sense of humor, and a contrarian point of view, Jennifer McLagan is known for taking on challenging subjects, and questioning our relationship to what we eat.
For more information jennifermclagan.com
Gillian Dawe-Taylor4:46 Good evening, everyone! Gillian, Simon, Sarah, and Peter are joining in from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. We could not locate the wines you are sampling. So we substituted them for:
1. Gewurztraminer, Reserve Alsace, 2014, from Cave Vinicole de Hunawihr
2. Vincette Rochette Sélection, Visan, AOC Côtes du Rhône Villages, 2014
3. Domaine du Murinais, Vielles Vignes , AOC Crozes Hermitages, Luc Tardy, 2014
And. All right, this will go live. And I’m just going to refresh Facebook to see if it’s gone live there. Okay, because I think we go live right on the scheduled time.
All right, folks. Have you ever wondered how to pair wine and charcuterie? Charcuterie, that sort of mixed plate of meat, sometimes cheeses and other tasty items often served before a meal in a restaurant; or perhaps, if we’re lucky, at home. Well, that’s exactly what we’re going to talk about tonight. Taking those different variety of flavors on a charcuterie plate and pairing them with wine. I’m Natalie MacLean, editor of Canada’s largest wine review site at nataliemaclean.com. And you’ve joined us right here on the Sunday Sipper Club at 6 p.m. where we gather every Sunday to talk to the most interesting people in the food and wine world.
Now, before I get started, in the comments, I’d love you to post what is your favorite type of charcuterie. Is it a pate? Is it a cured sausage? Is it maybe a type of ham, seranno ham? Maybe it’s a cheese. But go ahead and post in the comments and I will just refresh and make sure you can all see and hear me ’cause this is the first time tonight I’m using the scheduled feature that Facebook uses. Okay, it looks like we’re good and excellent, the countdown worked. Okay, that’s great Paul. All right.
Now, I’m also troubleshooting some other tech things here tonight so bear with me. I’m going to bring on our guests and you can tell us if you can see and hear her, but she is, you’re going to really enjoy this conversation. So our guest tonight is the author of over five books or five books, I should say, that have made the New York Times list of top cookbooks. Fat, Bitter, Bones, Odd Bits and Les Os. She’s also written other books besides that and she has won four James Beard Awards. Australian by birth, she left behind a degree in economics and politics to work as a chef before becoming a writer based in Toronto. And that’s where she joins me now, live from her home in Toronto. welcome to the Sunday Sipper Club, Jennifer McLagan.
Thanks, Natalie. I’m pleased to be here.
Okay, awesome. Now, Jennifer, tell us something, maybe that was sort of a very brief overview, your bio. Tell us something that might surprise us about you, something we don’t know. Whatever you like.
I spend, you said I’m based in Toronto which is true but I spend probably almost half a year in Paris, France.
Which makes a lot of my friends very jealous. But for someone who likes to eat charcuterie and odd bits and who’s just loves food, it’s wonderful city to be in.
And that’s something, and also, I’d like to tell people that sometimes, they don’t think I eat anything but meat and strange pieces of meat of that, but I do eat vegetables and fish as well.
Okay, excellent. All right, so when was the exact moment you realized that you wanted to write about food and specifically about, how would you categorize the type of foods you focus on? It’s charcuterie but it’s bitter, it’s bones, it’s…
Yeah, it’s a little hard to categorize. I guess unusual topics, topics that no one else wants to touch. It’s not your regular cookbook, right?
As you probably know, I did work for a long time as a food stylist magazine that both of us have worked on, in the LCBO Food & Drink magazine.
And working as a food stylist, making food for photography, I did work on a lot of cookbooks as well. And so I thought some of these cookbooks are great and some of them I didn’t think was so good. And so I thought, I could do that. So I decided that I would do a cookbook but I didn’t want to just do recipes. And as you know my cookbooks have history and have quirky little facts in it. The first one is about bones and I’ve got little things about musical instruments made of bones and buttons made of bones and how people told the future throwing bones in the air. And so I always wanted to put the food into some kind of context. I just didn’t want to do recipes.
That’s awesome. And so when they throw the bones in the air the way we do tea leaves to tell the future and see how the bones landed or?
Yes and they would divine different things by the shape of the bone. The breastbone of a goose was a favorite one to tell the future.
And I don’t know if you did the thing when you were a kid, did you hang like the turkey wishbone up and break it?
Oh right, yes. I remember doing that.
Yeah, it goes through history and when if you’ve got the longest side of the bone, you then you got your wish granted. So it’s got a long history of being something that tells the future or brings good luck.
That’s fantastic. Awesome. I’m just going to check in for the comments. Hello Lori, Lois, James, Paul is here, Lise. Okay, excellent. So Jennifer, we can hear you just fine. The visual isn’t working right now but we could hear you.
Okay, good, good.
This is going to be like a radio interview on television. I’m sorry. So you can, you can relax and put on your, whatever.
You can put up a picture of me.
I will, I’m putting up all the pictures you sent me so we’ve got all of those. Sorry folks, I am testing a new method tonight so I’m trying to play with this as we’re doing the interview which isn’t always the best idea. But anyway, I’m really looking forward to Jennifer’s stories ’cause it’s all about the work and the writing so bear with us, folks.
So before I move on though, I did want to mention, if you are enjoying this conversation or you anticipate enjoying this conversation, please take a moment to share. Just click that share button and let your friends, family, whoever, know and maybe why you’re enjoying it. The more we get here, the more audience, the better. It makes it a lot more fun. And if you do want to know when we go live every week, click the follow button as well and I’ll always, from now on, this is the new thing I’m doing is scheduling all of these shows so that all you have to do is click reminder and you don’t have to click keep refreshing and all that sort of thing. So thank you, Lise. Grace under pressure. Or else, tech flop under pressure.
Anyway, back to Jennifer, okay. So Jennifer, maybe you could tell us, this might seem an odd question but your favorite failure. Kind of something that happened but you were able to draw something, a lesson, whatever that made you better, stronger, anything like that.
Well it was a failure that turned into a success, I would say. My first book was called Bones which is about cooking food on the bone and eating things with bones in them. And then I really wanted to do a book on fat. And of course, probably everyone knows I did do a book on fat but at the beginning, for maybe a year and a half, my agent and I tried to sell this idea of a fat book. And everyone said, oh, a diet book and no fat book, a low fat book. No, no, we want to expound the joys of eating fat, animal fat. You know, this was probably a little ahead of its time. No one wanted to touch it and I’d already worked on it. I’ve done so much work and my agent said to me, “I think we’re going to have to do something else.” And I said no. I said we have to keep trying and we did and eventually, we found a Canadian publisher who then took it into the US and it became a big success but I think it was a thing, like if you really want to do something, don’t give up. Even if people say you can’t do it, it’s not a good idea, you should keep trying to do it, whatever you’re doing in life. It’s really important. If you think it’s a good idea, it probably is.
And how do you find the reception to your work, especially when it comes to fat or these cured meats? How is that sort of driving with the move toward healthier eating and, I’m making a supposition, I shouldn’t, that that’s necessarily unhealthy eating.
How do you put all of that together or do you have to deal with that issue?
Yes, I had to. I think it’s much better now but when I first started which was way back in 2005 so that’s quite a long time ago. I think now, people realize that real food is good for you. And all of this thing is like from cooking on the bone and with a charcuterie, that is real food. It was a way people kept food or use lesser cuts of the animal and kept them through time. It’s really good. It’s much better than the super processed foods that you buy in the supermarket.
Right and just as they’re coming around now to butter or real fats that’s good for you. They keep you full longer, you eat less which is also…
Exactly, I always say with the Fat book. If you eat fat, you stay thin. And it’s true. People always said to me, they said, “Well, how come you don’t weigh 500 pounds?” I said because I eat fat. I don’t need a lot of sugar, I don’t need a lot of snack food and fat is very satisfying. And the other important thing about fat to remember is that’s where the flavor is. A lot of flavors are only carried through fat, so you can’t get the flavor out of a lot of food without fat. And that’s why if you eat fat-free food, it’s really not satisfying at all and you eat twice as much.
Right, sounds like the alcohol in wine. It’s the carrier of flavor.
People try to make de-alcoholized wines and it’s ugh.
Well, exactly, there is no, and you know it’s not that thing. I mean you don’t probably want to super high alcoholic wine but alcohol, fat, they carry the flavor, they add to the whole deliciousness of the product.
Absolutely, well that’s great. I like that. Now, maybe take us to one of the best moments of your career so far. I’m sure there are many more to come. But where were you, what happened? Why was it special for you?
I think probably, once you do, doing cookbooks is a great way to get to meet people and people invite you to different places. And I got invited to Australia which is where I’m from, which was great. And they have a festival there every year. The Adelaide Writers’ Festival. Now, I get invited to a lot of food festivals but this was a festival of writers. I was the only food person there. So I felt very, very special. And here I was with like some famous authors and people who wrote fiction and historical novels and it was this beautiful setting afterwards in Adelaide. It’s a beautiful city there. It’s not far from great wine district of Barossa Valley. And it was kind of like, it was a validation of what I was doing because I always wanted to do more than just a cookbook. Here, I was being acknowledged as a writer and so that felt very, very special and it was a very wonderful event.
Oh wow, and not to go down too far a rabbit hole here but I often see that sort of food writing and wine writing as some sort of genre that’s lesser than real wedding of fiction on fiction. Like how do you respond to that?
I think that’s not true because I think sometimes, it’s even harder because the English language is only so much vocabulary you have to work with and everyone’s saying the same thing again and again and you want to do something that’s different and real and that people understand and connect with. And that’s very hard to do, as you know Natalie.
Yeah, that’s true. There’s only so many blackberry, blueberry cassis, full body, whatever in the world but…
Okay, so Beverly joins us, Andrea’s here and Lise, of course. Everybody’s piling in, awesome and we’ve got Gillian, Simon and some others from Yellowknife. Kenn Starr is here. Thanks for the info. Excellent, you’re most welcome. Jennifer is a treasure trove of when it comes to this information.
Charcuterie is what we’re talking about. We’re going to be pairing it with wine and you’re here on the Sunday Sipper Club where we gather at 6 p.m. every Sunday to talk to the most interesting people in the food and wine world. Alright folks, so I’m back to seeing only five comments at a time. Facebook does love to play around. So if I didn’t acknowledge your comment or you have a question that I missed, just re-post it again. I would love to hear from you. So, Jennifer, let’s get to the charcuterie and wine pairing. I won’t ask you to hold up your glass. But what wine do you have there? What do you…
Well, I thought it was really interesting that you picked a Gewurz.
It’s a wine I love, but my husband doesn’t like it because it’s so floral. I think that puts people off. I remember with a girlfriend, she said it’s like my grandmother’s perfume. That rose floral, sometimes, that puts people off.
What would you say about that?
It can be polarizing. I know when I first tried it, I would recommend it. If you like Gewurztraminer, then you’ll like this – until someone wrote to me and why are you qualifying that? And recognizing that I wasn’t enjoying it myself. Now, I’ve come to like it and appreciate it but you’re right, it can be very polarizing. It’s rosewater, it’s lychee, it’s all of that. The floral, the lavender, your grandmother’s sachet or whatever is in the pajama drawer. But it’s also a very, such an iconic wine. And Gewurz means spice, so spiced wine and it often gets just lumped automatically into anything with spice including Asian dishes. But I think it has a lot to offer. When you’ve got strong flavors, salty flavors, spicy flavors as well, I think it’s a good match because you really need something very vibrant in your glass to pair with the food.
Yes, so it doesn’t get overwhelmed, the wine doesn’t get overwhelmed by the food.
Exactly, exactly. And so, would you, it’s knowing Gewurztraminer and knowing all the charcuterie that you’ve selected tonight, is there a particular one that you think the Gewurz would go with?
I guess if you if you actually got yourself a nice dried, like particularly spicy sausage, that would be good.
Yes, I do.
And maybe like a dried chorizo. I’ve got one here that’s got lots of peppercorns in it.
Okay, yeah, absolutely. I’ve got one as well, very spicy. And I think too, the heat of the spice is tamed by the wine, especially when we put a white wine that we chill, that helps on just the temperature factor.
Yes, ’cause it’s knocking back, ’cause you want your charcuterie platter to be all, of course, at room temperature, right? You don’t want any of these meats cold because they won’t have their flavor. They need to be, I think that sometimes people forget. And it’s charcuterie so most of it can sit up very safely but it needs to be room temperature. Don’t serve it cold because then, it will have no flavor. It’s like sometimes, if your wine is too cold, it has no taste.
That’s right, you can numb the heck out of it. And that’s only something you should do at art gallery openings and weddings with no budget.
Yeah, because usually the wine is so awful that you wanted…
Right, just numb the heck out of it. But you’re right with the charcuterie. It reminds me of cheese. A lot of cheeses don’t express their full flavor, textures and everything else until they come up to room temperature. So if we had all the charcuterie in the fridge, how long would you leave it out? When do you think it would hit room temperature? I think I’d probably take it, like it depends on the weather but I’d probably take it out about an hour before serving it.
An hour, okay.
Good, good, good.
I think that would be a good and it depends what you’ve got. Some things like if you had rillette. so that any kind of sausage that will warm up pretty well.
Right, okay, and what’s the difference between, okay so cured, does that mean it’s smoked? Is that what it means?
It can be smoked, it can be just air cured.
A lot of the saucisson sec, I just hung out to dry. They made like a regular sausage and they’re hung out to dry. They get air dried and then it’s very interesting because when in France, when you go to buy any saucisson, they’ll ask you if you want it dry or not too dry. Some people like it to be softer and chewy and easier to, I like it to be dry and hard, that’s the one I like. But sometimes it can get to the point where you can’t even slice it, it’s so dry.
Okay, and is there a story behind chorizo itself? I mean that’s the one we sort of know when it comes to cured sausages. It’s Italian, like is there any sort of origin story that would, with chorizo?
Yeah, I think in chorizo, being chorizo is coming from Spain. I mean every country has, and the Portuguese have their chorizo too, but like just think of salami. I mean that’s very familiar to people. That’s a thing that’s coming from Italy. They’re always, every country, I would say probably has some kind of cured sausage.
And that was mainly, I guess a preservative method back in the day when they didn’t have fridges and so on.
Yeah, when they would have the meat, they’d add some salt to it, they’d hang it up in a place, probably that was very well ventilated, it would dry, it would get good mold which is that white mold and it would be just developing flavours ’cause it’s drying out, it’s concentrating. Think of a regular sausage you would fry, it’s the same thing but the water is gone and it’s dry and more concentrated which makes it more delicious.
That’s great. Okay, Lise says I’ve taken part in making Italian cured meats hung in the basement from a whole pig. Wow, that’s ambitious, Lise. Curing agent was salt or sodium nitrate. And Lori said I saw Jennifer’s blood-cooked scrambled eggs today on her Instagram. What would you pair with that?
I don’t know. That’s a bit tricky, isn’t it?
Yeah, you got the egg but…
No, no, no, there’s no eggs in there. It’s just actually, it’s bacon and some shallot, fried with some garlic and what happens is the blood works like eggs. So what, what you might pair to blood sausage, anything like a blood pudding, an English blood pudding has a very similar taste profile.
Right, so probably a fairly robust red wine. Maybe even a shiraz or syrah. I’ve got an Australian shiraz here tonight and a French syrah. Just for some taste comparisons here. But, and then Stephen…
I’m glad to see you have an Australian one. That’s good.
Yes, I do. Yes, that was all deliberate. I know I’m here with you. Stephen Andrews says ‘’the Mennonites in Waterloo make all kinds of great sausage’’. Ah, I didn’t know that. I bet just artisanal and wine.
Yeah, they make a very good summer sausage which is delicious.
And what’s the difference between summer sausage and presumably winter sausage?
I don’t know. I imagine it’s the time of year it’s made but usually a lot of these things are made in the autumn because that’s when traditionally someone would kill the pig and they would have a lot of meat because they couldn’t eat all at once. So charcuterie, which means just cooked flesh. It could be a way for them to preserve the meat into the winter.
All right, excellent, wow. And do we say it’s serrano or serreno ham?
I say serrano but you know.
Serrano, okay. Because that’s very delicious. And where does it come from and how is it different say from prosciutto? Which looks a lot like it, it seems to me.
Yeah, no, and then there’s pata negra from Spain so it’s all these hams that had just usually come from different countries often. The difference between them is what the animal ate.
So pata negera is famous because it comes from a special kind of pig that actually has black feet. And they usually run wild in parts of Spain and they eat a lot of acorns.
And does that flavour come through? The acorn flavour?
Yes and the acorn flavour and it also gives their fat, they have a lot of fat on them and it gives their fat a softer consistency because of the acorns. So they would have a much softer fat than a pig that ate corn.
And even in North America, there’s a famous Smithfield ham which is a cured ham as well and they eat peanuts.
The softer, yeah. So that’s each of those what the animal eats transfers into their meat and when it’s dried or cured and it’s in the fat as well, it’s more concentrated so you pick that up. It’s actually interesting because one time, I went and they had Spanish ham. I’m on Iberica and they had three different kinds in this little Spanish restaurant in Paris where you could try the three different kinds on a platter. And I thought no, it’s all Spanish ham. How different can it be, right? But each of these dried cured hams had a different taste. One was like fruitier, one was dry, it was like, okay it’s shiraz, it’s all going to taste the same. It doesn’t, as work from it. It’s exactly the same with these products. It’s the terroir in there that gives them the different tastes.
Wow, that’s great. And again, like cheese where you get the meadowy flavours if the goats or cows or whatever we’re grazing on, meadows or flowers or whatever. It really is…
No, that’s exactly true and that’s also, you don’t get it much in Canada but that works with butter as well. And you actually can get spring butter and winter butter and when they’re out in the meadows and having the flowers, you can actually taste that flowerness in the butter. And what they’re eating is moister. So the bada has a little bit less fat in it and more moisture. And if you’re a pastry chef, you want winter butter because it has less moisture, it’s drier, so higher fat content and it’s much better for baking with.
Fantastic, wow. Okay, learning lots here. Sam is here from BC. He loves a BC Gamay with charcuterie or a better quality Beaujolais. Yeah, that’s nice. Especially a Pinot, even if you can get nice spicy character in some of those wines and they don’t have the heavy tannins, I would think that would go well. Lori, it’s so interesting that the pigs account. Sorry, the pigs, something about the pigs in this Smithfield pigs. Who knew what they eat accounts for their taste? Got it.
Lois, “does the pickled vegetables accompaniment affect the wines you choose”? Yeah, Lois, that’s a good question. And I’ll just give you my thought out, unless Jennifer too. Though she says her expertise is the charcuterie and was leaving the wine pairing to me tonight. But I think she’s just being modest. Anyway, but I think pickled and brined foods are tough on wine because they’re vinegary and we don’t want that to happen to wine ever. So when you put wine with anything that’s brined, pickled et cetera, you’ve got to have a wine with a lot of really good acidity. Almost searing acidity because otherwise, by comparison, the wine is going to taste flat insipid, dull and wimpy.
So wines with high acid would include, like a Gruner Veltliner, a Sauvignon Blanc, a dry Riesling. All of those, you really want something that has got that acid to stand up with it to it. The universally best pairing I think for foods like that is often champagne or sparkling wine because it’s got the acid and it’s got those swarm of bubbles to cleanse your palate. Jennifer, do you have a take on brined and pickled foods with wine?
With wine, I like something a little pickled or acid with my charcuterie platter because you’ve got a lot of fat there. So you’re getting all that fat coating your tongue and sometimes, you need some acid. So what I would do is if I’ve got like that fat coating which I like, I would have maybe a little bit of acid and then some more fat before I hit the wine. I wouldn’t drink my glass of wine after I had the pickled cornichon or the pickled onion or the pickled vegetables. I’d kind of use it, the pickled vegetables, like as a palate cleanser then go back to the fat. The pate, the terrine or the fat in a sausage and then have that with the wine.
I love that. I’m going to borrow that tip if I may. It’s like you can’t buffer, yeah.
Yeah, no, and also, it cleans out your palate a little bit because sometimes like even with wine or any food, it can get overloaded. So if you want to switch they would just, with like when I was tasting the three different hams, between each one, I had to get something to kind of clean up my palate so I could taste the next one afresh and sometimes, you need to do that with a charcuterie platter. But I love your idea with champagne. I think champagne goes with absolutely anything.
It does, including more champagne.
Yeah, maybe even your cereal for breakfast.
Exactly. Breakfast of champions. It’s the universal, it’s a great way to start the day. So with the serrano ham, I guess we’d be looking at, I’m finding the red or the white would do well with this. We’ve got the spicy character of the syrah and the shiraz. Both deep, rich, dark plumy fruits. Some dark pepper, especially on the Australian shiraz. I think that’s lovely with just about anything here. But I think I could even go back to the Gewurztraminer and I don’t think it’s going to be overwhelmed by the ham but any thoughts there on the serrano ham with wine?
Yeah, I don’t know. I was kind of, it was one of the people on Facebook, they were saying Gamay. And I’ve become a big fan of Beaujolais. And I don’t know if you find it might be a little too wimpy but for me, it’s one of those super friendly food wines and it kind of just goes with everything and there’s different kinds of Beaujolais and…
Unbelievably delicious with this kind of food as well.
Absolutely. Yeah, the Beaujolais, especially the non-nouveau kind. So not that one that cuts about in November. But the aux cru that’s meant to be aged. So Beaujolais, as you may know, folks, is just the southern region of Burgundy. It’s the Gamay grape instead of the Pinot Noir grape that’s in the northern part of the region. And it’s a delicious wine. It’s usually medium bodied, supple, meaning there’s no sticky tint and harsh tannins that make your mouth dry out. And often, you can even get some with almost a black pepper note on the nose and it’s just such, I think it would be a beautiful combination with charcuterie. So it’s a great, great wine.
And I also think they are usually at an affordable price point place, mostly. And it’s interesting, I think that’s what you said, about the Beaujolais Nouveau. I know when I introduced my husband to them, he was only thinking Beaujolais Nouveau which is a very special kind of thing that you don’t want to drink very often. The actual crus of Beaujolais and there’s flurry and something like mobile which is a more cousteau or stronger and heavier. Absolutely delightful wines to drink and I think people should spend more time looking at them.
Absolutely, and Beaujolais is one of those wines that in the past, had a maybe not so great reputation and so the wines are so well-priced. As our dry rosé as another category or Riesling from Germany, especially. We got these categories of wines that just get either for changes in flavour or style from what they used to be or just they’re misunderstood but they’re such fabulous values. Great, great taste but great price too as you said.
How do you feel about Riesling with charcuterie?
Yeah, I think it could work. Definitely, Riesling has that acidic backbone which is nice and sprightly to cut through any cheese’s on the plate. And then I guess with the fat, like if we have the pate or the salt. Actually, the saltiness of the serrano ham might be a good match for an off dry Riesling because you’ve got the acid and a bit of touch of natural sweetness. So I would say sweetmeats but it also deals well with salt, just a bit of sweetness.
That’s true, that’s true ’cause it’s balancing out the salt and usually, when you’ve got charcuterie platter, you’re going to have salt there because that’s often how they’re cured and things as highly seasoned. So sweetness is something that balances off salt.
Absolutely, and I think of like a, a glazed ham with chutney and so that’s a perfect match for an off dry Riesling. So you’ve got the meat, the salt, the sweetness of the chutney and it’s pretty much, to me, acid in wine is like salt is to food. It brings forward flavor, it’s a balancer but it also will call out to salt, if you will, in the food. It really does well with salty foods.
So, oh my goodness. Let’s see. Robert Margadonna. Sorry, I don’t have my own glasses so here we go. I’m vainly trying to read comments I cannot see. ‘Gewurztraminer is very different from different parts of the world’. Absolutely, Robert.
Stephen Andrews says ‘a Spanish red with very little tannin’. That’s what he would recommend for charcuterie. Gillian Dawe-Taylor and Simon up in Yellowknife, are enjoying the serrano with a Cote du Rhone village. Good choice. Yeah, you don’t have to get the exact same wines that I got as I mentioned on the blog post. Just trying to get something in the genre, you’ll see the different styles and how they pair with that. Lise says ‘Jennifer, what would you pair with a French creton or cretel’? I’m not sure if I’m reading that and then your comment disappeared. Is a French creton a French charcuterie?
It is a very fatty, yeah, a very fatty thing. So you’d want something to cut through that fat. You’d want something to cut through that.
Nice acid or something like that, yeah.
Okay, I have some pate as well. I got one with cognac in it. I thought that was one step in the right direction with some wine already interlaced there. So now we’re into something that’s very fatty. We’ve done sort of the spicy hot with the chorizo, a really nice saltiness of the serrano ham and now, sort of more of a fatty texture with the pate. So again, I probably be thinking something with a good acidity but I’m curious if the red will work at all. I’m not sure but I’m going to give it a try.
Do you have pate with you there?
Yeah, I do have some pate here. I have a game pate so it’s stronger probably than yours.
Which I think would be fine with a red.
Yeah, it actually goes nicely, beautifully, actually, with the smooth shiraz. So the pate is rich and luxurious but the shiraz from Australia is equally mouth coating and rich and plumy and juicy so that all works. But you have a stronger flavoured pate?
Yeah, I have a one that’s got wild boar in it.
But it’s working, I’ve got a shiraz here too. It’s working with the shiraz.
Okay, yeah, I don’t think we can go far wrong. I’m trying to think of wines that would not work with charcuterie. I think you can go all the way up to full-body weight, really full about reds and even Amarones and Ports, I would think.
Port might be…
I’m going to say sweet. Might be a little bit too much on the sweet side, pretty. I mean I think probably you can pair whatever you like, whatever suits your palate, that’s good. But I’m thinking maybe Port might be a little bit over the top.
Yeah, with the extra alcohol, the sweetness and everything else. And then I think on the opposite end of the spectrum, again, if you love Pinot Grigio or something really light and floral or just light, period, would probably be a little wimpy beside these strong flavors, so.
Yeah, and I’m not sure how much I’d love a Sauvignon Blanc with it.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s true.
But I might, I might. I might take a Sancerre or something but even then, you know.
From the lower valley Sauvignon Blanc. Yeah, this is 13% alcohol, this Gewurztraminer. So it’s fairly rich and as I like to say, unctuous and mouth-coating so it really works well, I think, as a white wine with the charcuterie but yeah, some of those lighter whites might not be as good.
Yeah, they don’t have that depth and complexity ’cause I think averts has a bit more complexity. Sometimes, you got this a little bit just more acidic on your own liking.
Absolutely, yeah. Alright folks, if you are enjoying our conversation, please take a moment to share this. All you have to do is click the share button and just let your friends, whomever go, why are enjoying it. At the end of tonight’s broadcast, I’m going to be drawing a winner from last week’s show who will get a signed copy of the Veuve Clicquot book. So keep that in mind. Stay with us for the end of this show and next week, of course, we’ll draw another winner. If you want to know when we go live, click the follow button and our new thing is clicking on scheduled broadcasts.
So that’s what we did tonight and we are weathering through it technologically. Almost got it all working. And Jennifer’s being a great sport here with us and doing a radio interview instead of a television interview. She’s right there. Anyway, so Jennifer, what are your best tips for putting together a charcuterie plate at home? What are we looking for?
I think you want to try and bury the textures. I think that makes it very interesting. So some kind of dried sausage. Like you’ve got the chorizo, then it could be a salami, it could be a French sausage and there’s a lot of these being made in Canada or in the US now. In my local deli, they have ones. And maybe you want to slice it thinly as possible because I don’t think you want super thick slices. A rillette or something that’s softer like a moosey kind of terrine or pate that’s maybe spreadable on a good French bread. Maybe some kind of dried ham like a serrano, prosciutto and get the person at the deli to slice it nice and thinly for you. And then even though it’s going to fight a little bit with the wine, I would put something on there like cornichon gherkins, maybe pickled onion or a lightly pickled carrot that you’ve just cut up yourself and then dropped into a little vinegar and sugar and some spices just for an hour or two. So it’s not really pickled, it’s still crunchy and it’s just got a little bit of acid in it. Maybe even some cherry tomatoes which are lightly acid as well.
Okay and why do we slice it thinly? What’s the difference between some of those things if they’re sliced thinly or thickly?
I think it’s just nicer to eat. You don’t want to be chewing a lot. You just want something that’s going to melt on the palate. Think of prosciutto, if it’s too thickly sliced, it’s quite difficult to eat, thinly sliced it’s delicious and then whatever you do, don’t cut the fat off. Leave the fat on there because that’s where all the flavor is so I’m scared of that. So with a thin slice of fat, it’ll be delicious.
That’s true. That is the temptation. I’m going to stop doing that. Taking all the fat away as though I’m eating healthier.
No, no, no and you’re not eating healthier, actually, because that’s very good fat. It’s a load of very good things for you in that fat and it also be much more satisfying. And that fat will coat your mouth and give you that wonderful flavor thing so then when you have the wine, it’ll be that wonderful combination of the wine going around your mouth and I’m sureness as my charcuterie, I’m sureness of your wines. It’s just like such a great thing in your mouth. Very apt a bit. I mean you could do a charcuterie platter where you just do all different kinds of sausage like dry sausage. It’ll be kind of interesting to do too. I mean I know people put cheese and if you want to put cheese but for me, cheese doesn’t belong there. I don’t really like cheese at the beginning of the meal and I think charcuterie is something that you have in the beginning of the meal. It’s a way to, if you could have it at the table before a meal, so it’s a way to people to share and talk to each other and discuss things and so you pick different things what you’d like to eat before you go onto the main meal.
And why don’t you like cheese on charcuterie and or at the beginning of a meal?
I guess I’ve just been to ingrained by the French. Cheese does not come until the end of the meal. It doesn’t belong anyway and plus, there’s a lot of fat and cheese. I think it’s hard to pair and wine and cheese sometimes.
And maybe it’s too filling before the meal starts.
Yeah, yeah and it just, like, belongs at the end of the meal. That’s just where I stand.
That’s just good. We’re making some course corrections tonight which is great for better living.
And strictly speaking, charcuterie is cooked flesh. So really on that plan. It doesn’t just have to be. People don’t realize, you can make streams made out of fish and trout and seafood and there’s rillettes made out of salmon and sardines. So it doesn’t have to be all meat orientated. You could have some fish in there as well. Like you could maybe have a smoked fish, you could have a salmon rillette. There’s different things it doesn’t all have to be about pork. And maybe the other thing to look at is mixing it up. And I have a butcher outside of Toronto that’s South African origin and they make South African like a smoked, it’s not smoked, it’s a spiced meat but it’s beef. And there’s air dried beef so if it doesn’t all have to be pork. You could put beef on theirs as well.
And what’s the difference between pate, terrine and rillette?
Well pate and terrine, I think it’s very hard to tell the difference. Some people say that pate is a pate and a terrine is a pate made in a terrine dish, right? In a way.
In a ceramic dish. But rillette is different. That’s very spreadable and usually it’s either duck or rabbit or pork and it’s cooked in fat for a long time until the meat becomes very, very tender and then it’s made into a paste. So it’s very spreadable. It’s got a lot more fat content in it, whereas a pate will be just ground meat. Pate is really just a fancy name for a meatloaf. A very good meatloaf, very interesting meatloaf.
Sounds like it’s tastier than meatloaf too.
Well, I make a pretty tasty meatloaf.
I bet you do.
It’s basically a mixture of meats cooked together whereas rillette is usually one kind of meat and then it’s cooked in a lot of fat and that fat added back to the meat so it makes this very soft, spreadable, delicious, delicious thing to put on like a little slice of baguette or perhaps a cracker.
Wow, that’s fantastic. Well, we have our homework cut out for us here this week. Jennifer, you’ve given us lots and lots of great suggestions. Tell us a bit about where we can connect with you online, where are your favorite places for readers to find you.
Well, as someone’s already following me, I do love Instagram. I have a website which is jennifermaclagan.com. So you can find me there and you can send me a message if you want to. But blogs are a lot of hard work. It’s easier to stick up something on Twitter or throw up a photo on Instagram and it’s much more immediate and I like that response and I’m very original. It’s just my own name on both my Twitter handle and my Instagram handle, it’s just my name. So that’s where you’ll find me and at the moment, as people who have been following me will discover, I’ve been cooking a lot of things using blood, which is my latest interest, so, which usually turns most people off, but…
No, it’s fascinating and is that the subject of the next book or would it be part of it?
I’m thinking of doing a small book. It’s very hard to interest a publisher in something on blood.
Well, I’m sure you’ll find a way. You’re very determined when you’re on to a course or a subject. You’ll get it done, I’m sure.
I just like to do things that are off the radar because there’s a lot of stuff out there. It wouldn’t be very interesting for me or for anyone else to read my 101 favorite pasta recipes ’cause other people have done it better than me. So if I could do something that people go, ‘oh wow, I hadn’t thought about doing that’, or ‘I hadn’t thought about eating that’ or ‘hadn’t thought about that ingredient’. It was the same with Bitter and Bitter, a very interesting thing. You probably do that with wine. Bitterness, people think, is a negative but sometimes, it’s a positive flavour in there because bitterness, there can be bitterness in the wine but it doesn’t always taste bitter. The bitterness just completes the flavour profile. It gives a completeness and balances it. And someone told me, I don’t know if you feel there’s often a bit bitterness in Cote du Rhone wines. It’s just an undercurrent there but it’s not like you’re drinking an Amaro. It makes that wine more interesting to drink because it does have that bitter layer in there that brings all the other flavours together.
Absolutely, like an orchestra too. It might be used too much of a cliché, but it’s those undertones of whatever. A deep cello or bass makes the top notes even sweeter.
Exactly, and it’s not like you’re just hearing the bass. In fact, you have to go, oh…
Yeah, there is.
Oh, there is that bitterness there and that’s what’s, if it was gone, then you go,’oh this orchestra isn’t very good’. This wine is kind of hmm, it’s kind of lacking something, right?
And even in the charcuterie, often, there’s a little bit of bitterness coming out from different kinds of things and that’s what pulls it altogether. Gives us this wonderful taste and flavour.
Wow, that’s a great way to wrap it up, Jennifer. I want to thank you so much for your patience and your great participation. At least we could hear you and get all your stories and I’ll be posting everything on the blog and sharing it on social media. So you’re a wonderful guest. You look fabulous. I can see you and no one else can.
Well, they can always have a look, if they want to see what I look like, they can see on my page or name.
Exactly. So I’ll say good night. Folks, I’m still going to stay online so don’t go away. I’ve got lots of announcements for you. But again, thank you Jennifer and I wish you all the best with your next project.
My pleasure, Natalie. It was fun to chat.
All right, take care.