Published on November 15th, 2013 | by Joe Lawler
Django, Centro are now curing its own meat
When a business wants to cure its own meat, like Norwalk’s La Quercia, there are federal guidelines in place to cover food safety. But restaurants are regulated by the state, so when George Formaro and many of the chefs with Orchestrate Hospitality (Django, Centro, Malo and others) were interested in curing their own meats to serve in the restaurant, they discovered that there were no easy answers on how to do it. No other restaurant in Iowa was curing is own meat.
Formaro, Scott Stroud (executive chef, Malo), Derek Eidson (executive chef, Centro) and Johan Larsson (executive chef, Django) spent a year undergoing training on how to cure meat and building area in the basement of Django to cure meat. Formaro said the idea came from the desire to purchase whole pigs to use in the restaurant, but that a single pig has a limited amount of things like ribs and pork chops that work well as specials. Now that the restaurants can cure their own meat, they can make their own charcuterie, bacon and other items.
“People think that because people have been curing meat for thousands of years that it’s as simple as adding some salt,” Formaro said. “It’s a very involved process to ensure the safety of diners.”
That process is known as hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP), a systematic preventative approach to food safety regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. The process, which involves identifying and eliminating “critical failure areas” (aka things that can go wrong/make you sick) was developed through a collaboration between NASA, Pillsbury and the U.S. Army Laboratories. So the space program, the Dough Boy and scientists from G.I. Joe basically teamed up to make your meat safe. There may be an extra step or two and an exaggerated detail in there.