Eugenio Roncoroni has a genuine passion for the world of charcuterie and here he tells us how it was born and how he cultivates it within his recipes.
He collects skulls and tattooed pig’s hooves: the chef who animates the Milanese nightlife with his two venues seperated by the kitchen in the middle can never be called conventional. The gourmet experience on the left, the street food on the right, a restaurant whose mere mention makes the mouth water. It is, of course Eugenio Roncoroni, who has now been delighting Milanese palates with his ‘Al Mercato’ for ten years. Before that, camemany experiences abroad, with a predilection for California. The United States is half his homeland ( on his mothers side)and from there Eugenio has brought to Milan a way of cooking that is absolutely original.Unusual.Out of the box. In fact just like the man himself is in everyday life.
For him, cured meats are a passion, refined in moments away from Italy and perfected back in the old country. But it is with Salumi Pasini smoked bacon i that he found the perfect squareaddition to his hamburger, so acclaimed by the Milanese.
What’s your first memory of a cold cuts?
In our family we used to celebrate the pre-Christmas vigil and there was always a very long salami on the table that was sliced obliquely. I loved it so much! I’d say that’s my first memory.
How did your passion for cold cuts grow?
My passion grew stronger when I lived in the United States. I met one of my first mentors there, Angelo Garro: he’s a hunter and he makes his own wine and cold cuts,He’s in Alice Waters’ group and he taught me how to make cold cuts. Strangely enough, my passion started there. I meanafter all, good cold cuts traditionally didn’t come from California but I could see the Americans doing a great job,and in the end I learned and some of it I still make at home.
How did you find out about Salumi Pasini?
Salumi Pasini was a discovery during my personal research. I was tired of taking cold cuts around Italy. As a good Milanese, I always try to buy from local producers who work well. I was looking for an excellent product that had a taste that wasn’t too extreme. I’ve come into contact with a lot of producers but often they offer things that are only good for a certain type of people. I was looking for something that would satisfy not only a niche. I was looking for a local producer who could guarantee me product consistency, which is the great strength of this company. The product always the same and the quality is always exceptional.
The smoked bacon Salumi Pasini is a must of your famous burger!
I use a lot of smoked bacon for the burger.Compared to the bacon that you normally find, I immediately understood that the product from Salumi Pasiniwould give me a much better result. Generally the bacon that is used for burgers is not good, while I needed something of quality. This is really perfect for what I wanted to do.
People ask me all the time where I buy it, because once you taste the burger you immediately realize that it is a high quality product.
Do you use cold cuts for anything else?
I have them as a selection at the restaurant. I like to serve them with my pickles, which I’m very proud of. I became fond of pickles because I find them in all traditions as a ‘degreaser’ and accompaniment for meat and fish, and I started to produce them. Then I use cured meats as an accompaniment in some dishes at the restaurant, which always has off-paper specials.
And then I also prepare them, I like to try them, I prepare two or three things but it gives me satisfaction and I care a lot: it’s fascinating how the same preparation is repeated all over the world, even in the East. After all, cured meats are a method of preservation, and it’s nice to see how the same thing is repeated all over the world with different spices and processes.
What is the strangest cold cut you have ever tried?
I’ve tried Chinese raw ham. Made with their spices and Sichuan pepper, very seasoned, it looks almost like bacon. It’s probably the most unusual thing I’ve ever tasted. I generally go crazy over everything that’s made from pressed pork face. I also make a bowl of pork ears that I really like. It’s not a sausage, but it looks like one.
What about in your daily diet, when do they appear?
Almost daily. I’ve changed my diet in a very radical way in the last few months, because I’ve discovered that I’m very intolerant to gluten. In this change I have never stopped eating cold cuts: they are something I could not give up, I really love them.
I know it’s not really indicated, but even just a slice of raw ham when I come home I’ll allow myself.
Read Chef Eugenio Roncoroni recipe for Salumi Pasini >