20th December 2012

Native Breeds charcuterie

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Native Breeds is a small but influential charcuterie in Gloucestershire.

With a repertoire that includes plum liqueur-soaked paté and applesmoke-infused bacon, marbled wild boar salami and crumbly, aspic-drenched ham hock terrine, it's no surprise that their client list is a who's who of the foodie world. 

Using only rare breeds native to Britain and with all ingredients regionally sourced, Native Breeds holds a special place in British cuisine, delivering unique and
high-quality delicacies that reflect the country's regional gastronomic heritage.

Graham Waddington, mastermind of the culinary vision, talks us through his day.


Take us through the daily routine…

Well it can be a little bit crazy as every day is different. Anything from salting, brining, preparing recipes, cleaning the smoker, slicing, packing – any number of the above in any combination, and more. It’s a bit like a mad house but everything gets done somehow. Routine? That’s for the privileged. However, the work does have a rhythm and concentration that is very absorbing.

What inspired you to become a charcutier?
There are a few things; I remember going to the butchers as a very young child to buy bacon with my grandmother, and when I was a teenager I got a Saturday job working in a butchers in Wimbledon where I saw bacon and sausages being made; it was fantastic to watch. I also loved the River Cottage series when it first came out.

Tell us about the curing process.
It depends on what is being cured. I love brining (pickling with salt) beef with richly spiced flavours; it makes the meat very tender and juicy. I also like air-curing as it gives the meat a silky texture when sliced. We select meat carefully for different products. We make up all our own recipes and use quite ancient (by modern standards) machinery to mix salami or make black pudding.

How do you source your meat?
The meat is selected direct from farms that rear traditional breeds of pigs and cows. There are not many commercial rare breed farms that can supply animals to the welfare specification we require. We use a lot of local smallholders who we have very good working relationships with and we are proud of. There are two breeds of pig I really like, the Saddleback and Tamworth, and my favourite beef herd is Hereford. In essence, for charcuterie, the animals have to be extensively (not intensively) reared, older and a bit fatter; the meat lends itself more to curing as it is richer and more flavoursome.

Who do you supply?
We are lucky enough to have an extensive list of customers; we mainly supply to restaurants, plus some farm shops and retail outlets. Clients include Selfridges, Bubbledogs, Le Caprice, The Ivy, J Sheekey, The Hardwick, Jamie Oliver, Quo Vadis and Hix.

What’s the most crucial part of your job?
There are too many to single out. The thing about making charcuterie is that every bit from sourcing to packing is important for the finished product. It's also crucial to work with people that you love and trust; our staff and associates are truly magnificent, not least my wife Ruth. You really know everyone is pulling together, especially when it's as busy and crazy as it can be.

The most satisfying?
That’s tough. I still love the colour and smell of properly matured bacon coming out of the smoker. Seeing a concept product come to fruition. Hearing about how someone who you really respect has loved your product. Cleaning the mixer until it gleams! All of these and more.

The least?
Waste!

Tell us about your biggest challenge so far?
Trying to make hot dogs by hand to exactly the same size, using natural raw ingredients. Oops!

Have you ever had any epic failures?
A lot. Some operational ones; leaving the sausage filler on auto with black pudding mixture in is particularly memorable. Very messy.

How about your future ambitions?
I would really like to run more charcuterie apprenticeships and courses and help put excellent charcuterie more on the map. And for our Great British Frankfurter range to be the British public’s hotdog of choice!

In five words, describe a day in the life of a charcutier.
Fulsome, ravenous, edgy, intense and dirty.

 

To find out more about Native Breeds: www.nativebreeds.co.uk

Telephone: 07960 030509

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