Charcuterie is deeply rooted in the Old World, specifically Italy, France and Spain. When a charcuterie board appears at our table, we often see the usual suspects: prosciutto, speck, saucisson sec, and if we’re lucky jamón iberico. But what would we see if charcuterie took a trip to the New World?
The answer to that question is Smoking Goose. Founder Chris Eley, a former Chicago fine-dining sous-chef, openly admits that there’s no Old World connection for his products… and he doesn’t come from some storied generations-long lineage of famous European butchers. Rather, in 2007, the chef moved back to his native Indianapolis simply looking for a change from high-pressure big city kitchens. He decided to open a butcher shop, producing small amounts of cured meat, with only a handful of small restaurant clients.
Chris’ charcuterie immediately stood out for its noticeable all-American approach. Rabbit, elk, lamb and of course goose, sourced from 23 different local Indiana farms, joined the traditional pork on his charcuterie menu. Saucily named flavors such as “Hillbelly” or “Gin ‘n’ Juice” featured daring ingredients like organic blueberries or herbaceous juniper berries, reminiscent of gin. He was pushing the frontier of traditional charcuterie tastes and techniques.
Chris always had a knack for being “different.” But it’s more than just his rebellious nature. He believes that Old World cured meat remains the gold standard because of makers’ dedication to local ingredients and preserving natural flavor. (Think terroir but for meat.) Instead of trying to copy another region’s products, Chris respects American meats. His uniquely New World products are taking down the bastion of Old World charcuterie, earning a Good Food Award in 2015.
We have salumi (from Italy) and charcuterie (from France). Is it time we have a new word to designate these small-batch American cured meats? In New World parlance, perhaps the only word is Eureka!