Cured sliced pork belly from the charcuterie kitchen of RL Reeves Jr

Rick Reams of RJ’s Meats in Hudson, Wisconsin gets feted in The Growler. Reams is a ‘Master Meat Crafter,’ and went through an extensive training program at University of Wisconsin to attain that title.

It does roll off the tongue.

We’ve been fortunate to roll across Wisconsin taking in the rural and urban charcuterie scene and it’s nearly unfathomable how many mom and pop cured meat shops there are in the region.

This past weekend a lot of people made some incredible statements about the gumbo we prepared for the big Scrumptious Chef pop up at Little People’s Place. To wit: this is the best gumbo we’ve ever eaten, what’s your secret? There’s not a single secret. The gumbo took four days to prepare and all the meats were smoked by hand. But; the one ingredient we put in that would be uncommon was city ham from Jeanfreau’s Meat Market, and it is of course cured.

Throw a few pounds in your next pot and see if you agree.

You become inured to delicious sounding things after a few decades in the game but a couple times a year you read a headline that makes you pick up the phone to order airline tickets to some far-flung destination so you can eat.

We’re heading to Austin.

Chef Jesse Griffith has created a “wild game Italian sub sandwich” at his Dai Due restaurant on the city’s east side. We were reading the Nueces County local newspaper when we ran across a report that outlined what went into this outburst of chef creativity. And then we picked up the phone.

Is serving the “The Best Ham in Dallas” sort of like being the “best ballerina in Galveston?” The title sounds a mite precarious. But now that Enrique Tomás had debuted jamón ibérico de bellota in Big D we do have to admit that our curiosity is a little piqued.

The two-story bodega-restaurant on Henderson serves tapas, jamón-laced plates, and wine, and it is your avenue for whole legs. If you indulge in a whole leg—the jamón (back leg) or paleta (front leg)—for a party, they’ll send one of their handful of cortadors, expert carvers. Mere mortals can’t be trusted.

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