With the economy still in the tank and some of us marginally employed, why would we purchase Czech bacon at the price of $7 for a half pound?
First, it’s pork. Second, it’s one of our favorite artisan foods: charcuterie. This is the preparation of pork (mainly, though other meats can be prepared similarly) specialties such as pâtés, rillettes, sausages, and, of course, bacon.
If the product is made by those who adhere to a “slow-food” ethos, it becomes even harder to resist. This was our pleasurable predicament after sampling from the Kocurek Family Artisanal Charcuterie Saturday at the Pearl Farmers Market.
The Kocureks have been selling prepared sandwiches and packaged sausages, bacon and other hand-crafted foods at the Pearl market for some weeks now. Their stated mission is to “preserve the art of traditional charcuterie using local, free-range, hormone-free meat and game, and above all else, the preservation of our happiness in making authentic food with our family.”
Lawrence and Lee Ann Kocurek met at culinary school a decade ago, then moved to New York. Lawrence is an honors graduate from The French Culinary Institute and Lee Ann is a certified sommelier from the American Sommelier Association. They have a young son, born in 2009, who was their inspiration, after careers with top restaurants and wine merchants, to go into business for themselves in Austin.
As Lawrence described it, the bacon is not as salty as American bacon. It is seasoned, however, with a lengthy list of herbs and spices. The flavor was plenty bacon-y, and we didn’t miss all the salt we have become accustomed to. It sizzled nicely in the pan and turned very crisp. It was utterly delicious with scrambled eggs, green chile salsa and hot corn tortillas for breakfast, and in BLTs at lunch.
Later on Sunday, my husband and I pan-broiled the Kocurek’s Saucisse de Toulouse, a half-pound French sausage made with pork, wine, garlic, nutmeg and other seasonings. Served with an herb-scented pilaf of tiny green French lentils seasoned with salt pork and sliced fresh tomatoes, it was a perfect Sunday supper.
John Griffin took home with him his own packages from the Kocurek booth, not being able to resist the Boerewors sausage, a taste of South African-seasoned beef, pork and bacon with red wine, garlic, coriander, nutmeg, allspice, cloves and Worcestershire sauce among the spices. We’ll look forward to the report on that— or, better still, a taste!
To look at a comprehensive product list of the Korcurek family’s charcuterie, a schedule of the farmers markets they visit, and to sign up for their newsletter, click here.
For the French Lentil Pilaf with Wine recipe that we served with the Saucisse de Toulouse (see below), click here.
Photos by Bonnie Walker