This is “You Gotta Try This,” The Bee’s series featuring one particular must-have dish at a local restaurant. Each featured dish is nominated by a reader. Got a menu item you want to shine some light on? Email reporter Benjy Egel at email@example.com.
Restaurants such as The Waterboy, Hawks and Block Butcher Bar have rolled out house-cured charcuterie programs in the last 10 years. But happy hour’s hottest resurgence first popped up in the basement of The Citizen hotel in downtown Sacramento.
Brad Cecchi was the only cook in town doing charcuterie when he helped open Grange in 2008, he said. The art of turning blended, coagulated scrap meat into pâtés and terrines has since been passed down to sous chef Jason Shepherd, who chef de cuisine Evan Perlick said makes about 85 percent of Grange’s cured meats.
A former cook at LowBrau, OneSpeed and Paragary’s, Shepherd frequently changes his ingredients as seasons turn and customers come back. Grange charcuterie boards have included country pâté, foie gras terrine, ham hock terrine, pork rillete and, for Easter, rabbit liver mousse. When The Bee visited the restaurant, each $18 board had slices of ciccioli and chicken truffle terrine as well as a jar of duck liver pâté.
“We have a good repertoire and we like to keep the rotation going,” Perlick said. “Maybe if you come back again you won’t see the same thing, but that’s what’s kind of fun about the dish.”
The ciccioli starts by cooking Niman Ranch pork shoulder confit-style in its own juices, along with bay leaves and garlic. Once tender, Shepherd shreds it with a spoon and folds in black peppercorns, rosemary, thyme and other spices, then lets the fat solidify in a terrine mold overnight.
Duck livers are tossed in a 7:1 mixture of kosher salt to pink curing salt, with white peppercorns, before blending with red wine and egg yolks, Shepherd said. The blend is placed in jars and cooked in a foil-covered water bath for about 25 minute, then capped with a port wine reduction and gelatin after cooling.
For the terrine, Shepherd breaks down Del Monte Meat Co. chicken thighs in a meat grinder, whips that ground meat with heavy cream and egg whites, and folds in preserved truffles called tartufata. The mixture is placed in a prosciutto-lined terrine mold, cooked in a water bath for about an hour and pressed overnight to squeeze out excess moisture.
The “boards” themselves are circular wood cuts. They come with slices of Acme Bread Co.’s rustic levain batard that’s been rubbed with garlic thyme butter, grilled and rubbed again with raw garlic. Other accoutrements include Dijon mustard and housemade bread-and-butter pickles brined in a mixture of sugar, vinegar, turmeric, mustard seed, celery seed and onions.
One terrine feeds about 10 people, and Grange goes through about eight terrines every three or four days, Perlick said.
Charcuterie’s history dates back to at least the Middle Ages, when butchers developed preservation techniques to work around a ban on selling raw pork. The amalgamation of fat, skin, tongue, head and other less-desirable cuts lost popularity in the 1980s through the early 2000s, but can attribute its recent resurgence in part to the public’s interest in not wasting meat, Perlick said.
Now the chef and co-owner at Canon, Cecchi spent years experimenting with different meats before venturing into uncooked salumi like prosciutto. He continued running Grange’s charcuterie program even after being promoted to interim executive chef because doing so was easier than training the next-in-command, he said.
“It’s a skill. It’s not easy, and it takes a lot of time,” Cecchi said. “I’d put it more toward the pastry chef world. There’s an exact science, you have to be clean and organized ... you have to know your stuff to do it, and there’s a lot of people doing it well in Sacramento.”