Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing

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W. W. Norton & Company

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The only book for home cooks offering a complete introduction to the craft. CHARCUTERIE—a culinary specialty that originally referred to the creation of pork products such as salami, sausages, and prosciutto—is true food craftsmanship, the art of turning preserved food into items of beauty and taste. Today the term encompasses a vast range of preparations, most of which involve salting, cooking, smoking, and drying. In addition to providing classic recipes for sausages, terrines, and pâtés, Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn expand the definition to include anything preserved or prepared ahead such as Mediterranean olive and vegetable rillettes, duck confit, and pickles and sauerkraut. Ruhlman, coauthor of The French Laundry Cookbook, and Polcyn, an expert charcuterie instructor at Schoolcraft College in Livonia, Michigan, present 125 recipes that are both intriguing to professionals and accessible to home cooks, including salted, airdried ham; Maryland crab, scallop, and saffron terrine; Da Bomb breakfast sausage; mortadella and soppressata; and even spicy smoked almonds. 50 line drawings.


Brian Polcyn
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W. W. Norton & Company
W. W. Norton & Company
Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing
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Thomas Keller

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Pros: To the point, thorough, perfect recipes, large variety of content within the charcuterie niche
This is by far the best book for any kind of charcuterie. The recipes in"Charcuterie" are great standard recipes that you can improvise or not.The instructions and mise en place show a broad range of variety within the charcuterie niche. In other words, It teaches you ways to make something exactly, and it gives you tips on how to improvise if you have limited resources. I learned almost everything I know about charcuterie from this book and this book was referred to me by several of Baltimore's best chefs and a friend who cooked at Commander's Palace and August. If you are interested in Charcuterie, I strongly suggest you buy this book over any other book. If you have any friends who know anything on the subject, ask them. Chances are, they will recommend this book over anything else
I love cookbooks.  I had better as I have hundreds upon hundreds of them in my home office, a fact that doesn't always please my wife especially when we move.  And yes, I have read each and every one from cover to cover.  While I do love cookbooks, after having read so many it is easy to become a little desensitized or jaded to their offerings.  Bookstores abound with mediocre cookbooks full of mediocre recipes and it becomes harder and harder for me to find those “hidden†gems.  Luckily for me I came across “Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing†by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn.  This is one of those rare cookbooks that has me even re-thinking my whole career path.  After reading “Charcuterie†I am ready to give up the whole restaurant business and open my own little Sausage shop or Salumeria!  I can't remember the last time I got this excited over a cookbook.

Of course I shouldn't be surprised with the likes of Ruhlman and Polcyn behind this book, it had to be great.  Michael Ruhlman has authored a number of books on the Chef profession and helped Thomas Keller write 2 cookbooks.  Brian Polcyn is a fantastic chef and first came to fame when he was featured in one of Ruhlman's earlier works, “The Soul of a Chef.† Together again, they have created a winning combination of recipes, “how-tosâ€, and essays on the art of Charcuterie.

For the uninitiated, charcuterie covers a whole range of food preparations, but mainly concerns itself with the making, curing and smoking of “sausages,†from fresh, farmhouse breakfast sausages to brats to cured and dried sausages such as salami and summer sausage.  It also covers the making of things such as hams, galantines and various other preparations.

Each aspect of charcuterie is given its own chapter, each one building on the lessons of previous chapters.  After a lengthy introduction, the first chapter concerns itself with salt-cured foods.  The next chapter deals with smoked foods which first require curing or brining, skills learned in the chapter before.  Next comes chapters on fresh sausages followed up by a chapter on dry-cured sausages, so as you can see, the book follows a very logical progression in which each chapter builds upon the previous

Ruhlman and Polcyn also include chapters on pates, terrines and confits, all an integral part of the world of charcuterie.  And finally there is a chapter on sauces and condiments to accompany your just created sausages and terrines.  All of this information compiled into a book 320 pages long, and while they could have gone on to create a book 3 times this size, on a subject as expansive as charcuterie, this book gives the beginner a great place to start, and the confidence to expand their culinary skills.


Do you know anything of Ruhlman and Polcyn's "Charcuterie?" That has been the one I tend to see the most but I have some apprehensions simply because there are dangers involved with certain Charcuterie products with regard to botulism, etc. My apprehension comes from the fact that Ruhlman is a food writer (though trained and I love Ratio) and not necessarily a professional chef in that sense and I'm not familiar with Polcyn's work and what he produces with regularity. I've just read here and there that some of the dangers of these techniques are not fully addressed in Ruhlman's book. Do you know anything of it? Also, do you have any tips or suggestions for someone trying to approach this when they live in a small apartment? I think I can talk the wife into letting me hang things in the kitchen (though she doesn't like the pasta too much anymore), I just want to know if some of these products can be produced in such a small place.
This is it. I actually didn't know Ruhlman or Polcyn had anything to do with it. I always knew that Thomas Keller was an author. Not only is he a professional chef, he's "the" professional chef. Honestly, I trust this book for all of my charcuterie basics and most of the advanced stuff I so. The only thing this book doesn't cover in depth is doing whacky things like smoking garlic inside of onion peels. If you're worried about botulism, there is a lot about sanitation within the contents. But, I learned all of my sanitation from "The Professional Chef"...Rules are rules, and they're almost always the same.
Haha, I live in a small apartment in Baltimore city, and it took some convincing to get my girlfriend to let me cure meats in the house. I told her it would pay off, and it did. I've cured pancetta and duck breast pancetta in the fridge and in my closet. In "Charcuterie" for each recipe, there are ideal temperatures written, but some times its better to go lower than go higher. I'll cure meat in the fridge if it's summer.
I hope this helps you out. If you have any more questions, let me know.

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