Smokin’ It Old School: Surry Farms Surryano

by Connor Pelcher

The first British settlers arrived in Jamestown  in 1607, bringing hope – and hogs. The pigs were left to their own devices, rapturously descending on the wild nuts and acorns scattered throughout the lush Virginia woodland.

By spring, the Jamestown colonists were keeping their hogs on an island just across the river from the Jamestown settlement. The pigs loved roaming through the thickets and streams, and the farmers could rest easy knowing they wouldn’t wander away. The island soon became known as Hog Island, and still is today, over three centuries later.

But well before English colonists came ashore, and before their hogs rooted through the swamps and sea-meadows of Virginia, Native Americans inhabited the area, smoking, salting, and drying wild fish and game, taking full advantage of that which the forests and ocean bountifully provided.

With the help of the natives, these early colonists adapted their meat preservation techniques to fit their own needs. They began rubbing the pork with salt obtained from evaporating seawater, forcing out the moisture from inside the meat, prohibiting the growth of harmful bacteria.  They finished the hams by smoking them over hickory and oak fires and leaving them to age for up to a year.  These cured hams proved to be a reliable source of income for the colonists during a time when the prices of cotton or tobacco could fluctuate wildly from season to season.

In 1926, S. Wallace Edwards, the young and affable captain of the Jamestown-Surry ferry, began selling ham sandwiches to his passengers. The ham had been cured by him, according to their generations-old family recipe, on the farm that carried his family name. Before long, the demand for his hams let him quit the ferry business and cure meat full time, eventually growing his business to a nationwide operation.

Surryano ham is still made according to the time-honored family recipe: cold-smoked for seven full days and aged for another 18 months.  The Edwards family treats their heirloom six-spotted Berkshire hogs with the love and attention that their forbears would lavish upon their own livestock; after roaming the pasture all day, they get a rich, fatty dessert of raw Virginia peanuts.

That diet and exercise lends a deep, mahogany color and nutty flavor to the amply marbled meat. The smoke adds a stunningly complex depth to the palate, complimenting the flavor of the pork without overpowering it. The plentiful streaks of taupe fat melt on your tongue and coat your mouth with flavor.

While Surryano can be melted on a flatbread pizza, rendered for a savory pasta dish, or even wrapped around melon, the true appreciation for this meat can only be achieved by eating it straight – one perfect, smoky slice at a time.

Connor’s Homemade Surryano Ravioli

Surryano Ravioli

Cloumage, Parmesan, Thyme, Brown Butter

Serves 6

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

4 eggs plus 1 yolk, for wash

2 tsp olive oil

1 sprig fresh thyme

1 tsp minced garlic

¼ lb butter

¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

1 10oz container Shy Brothers Cloumage

1 4oz package sliced Surry Farms Surryano Ham

 

Combine 2 ½ cups flour and salt in a stand mixer. Mix on low with a dough hook and add the eggs one at a time. Slowly add the oil. Finish by adding the rest of the flour until the dough forms a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and rest for 30 minutes.

With a sharp chef’s knife, cut the Surryano into small squares. Mix with Parmigiano-Reggiano and Cloumage in a mixing bowl.

 Remove the dough ball from the plastic wrap and cut it in half. Dust a large portion of your counter with flour and form each half into a rectangle. Feed it through the pasta machine two or three times before reducing the setting. Continue until the machine is at its narrowest setting. The dough should be paper- thin.

Lay out the dough on the floured counter. Brush half of the sheet with the extra egg yolk. Spoon a tablespoon of the Cloumage filling onto the pasta, about two inches apart in a grid.  Fold the other half of the pasta sheet over and use your fingers to push out excess air around each mound to form a seal.  Use a knife or a crimper to cut out each ravioli.

Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat until the milk solids separate and begin to turn brown. Add the garlic and thyme and lower the heat. Cook for about a minute and remove the sprig of thyme.

Cook the ravioli in salted, boiling water for 4-6 minutes. Serve with the brown butter sauce.

Fig-et About it! A Sweet and Savory Murray’s Melt

 

Forget about your boring old lunch! We’re taking a tried and true taste-bud-pleasing combo, sweet and savory, and kicking those flavors into the stratosphere by melding together this gooey, delicious grilled cheese sandwich that is abso-figly de-swine, dahling.

Spring Brook Reading is ideal for grilled cheese (it’s recipe is based on classic Alpine melter, Raclette); made from raw cow’s milk up in Reading, VT, we’re all about the salty, nutty flavors that emerge when it warms up. Add to that thin slices of silky Surryano ham and sweet Mitica Fig Jam, and you’ve got a union of complex and complementary flavors: sweet, meaty, salty and creamy. Aw, yeah!

The Fig-et About It

Per Sandwich:

Spring Brook Reading, rind removed, sliced: 1.5 oz
Mitica Fig Jam: 1 TBS
Surryano Ham: 2 slices
Bread: 2 slices from your favorite loaf, we recommend Sourdough
Butter: lightly spread on outer sides of bread

Putting it together:

The sandwich can be made stove-top or in a panini press. Slice bread into thick slices and butter each slice on the side you’ll be toasting, then spread a thin layer of fig jam on one of the opposite sides. Layer the Surryano atop the jam (cut it or fold it to fit inside the bread), then layer your sliced Reading so that will melt evenly. Press two sides together and place in sandwich press; if you’re grilling stove-top, pre-heat your skillet on medium for a minute and place sandwich, butter-side down, flipping after 2 minutes.

In a sandwich press: cook for 4 minutes
On the stove-top: give each side 2 minutes per side, pressing lightly with a spatula or small plate

Cut, serve, enjoy!

Sides: Green apples, pickled carrots, green salad

Hankering for some more fig n’ pig tastiness on your plate? We’re right there with you! Here are few more ideas to get those piggies and figgies together, right where they belong:

* Crumbled fresh goat cheese (Vermont Creamery’s fresh Goat Logs are perfect), fresh figs (quartered), a drizzle of Mitica Acacia Honey
* Toasted baguette slices, Loire Valley Goat Cheese (Valencay, Selles Sur Cher), and slices of La Quercia Prosciutto Americano and dried Pajarero figs – superb for party platters and brunch spreads
* Big blues, like Blu di Buffala, Roquefort and Bleu du Bocage, paired with Speck, chocolate covered figs (ChocoHigos) make an impressive dessert to serve along side Port and Grappa

 

Sláinte: Irish Farmstead Cheese & Microbrew Pairings

http://smashingtopten.com

Forgo the green food-coloring and crowded pubs and taste these Hibernian curds alongside their luckiest matches, selected by Murray’s Assistant Manager and resident suds expert, John David Ryan. Trust the man–he knows his beer AND cheese.

Sláinte!

Doppelbock & Mossfield Organic

Mossfield is an organic cow’s milk cheese from Ireland. Though fairly mild and sweet, the flavor grows more intense as it ages. Complement the cheese with a doppelbock—a strong, malty German lager. These beers carry toasty notes of dark fruit, figs and brown sugar.

Suggested beers: Spaten Optimator, Schneider Aventinus, Troegs Troegenator

Saison & Ardrahan

Saisons are traditionally farmhouse ales brewed during the winter. While they tend to be complex beers with earthy, musty aromas, they are also fairly light and easily drinkable. Ardrahan is a funky, stinky Irish washed rind whose bark is worse than the bite—its paste is smooth and creamy with a nutty taste. The wheaty, grassy flavors in the beer play off the rich, creamy interior of this washed-rind cheese.

Suggested beers: Saison Dupont, Brooklyn Sorachi Ace, Ithaca Ground Break

IPA & Murray’s Irish Cheddar

It doesn’t get more classic than this: pick a great hoppy beer to go with a great Irish cheddar. This is easily my favorite pairing. That big, lactic flavor from the cheddar (that people often describe as “sharp”) holds its own against a bright, bitter beer.

Suggested beers: Dogfish Head 60 Minute, Evil Twin Falco, Ithaca Flower Power

http://brooklynbrewery.com

Coolea is a Gouda-style cheese made using a Dutch recipe by a family in Ireland. It’s got the rich, sweet, almost caramelized tones you expect from great Goudas. The slightly sweet profile of a brown ale helps to highlight all the things I love about this cheese. They both have just a little bit of sweetness, which makes them a great pairing.

Suggested beers: Anchor’s Brekle’s Brown, Smuttynose Old Brown Dog, Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown

Stout or Porter & Cashel Blue

Beware: bold flavors ahead.  The creamy, crumbly interior of Cashel has a fantastic salty punch that only a well-made bleu cheese has. Wash it down with the chocolate and coffee tones of a boozy stout.

Suggested beers: Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, North Coast Old Rasputin, Hitachino Sweet Stout

 

By: John David Ryan

It’s Murray’s Mania!

It’s Murray’s Mania!

Forget about the Sweet  16…. funky is so much better! It’s the cheese showdown of the year, and we are doing it up the only way we know how: big! And we’re asking YOU to crown the Champion of Curd!

When you cast your vote, you enter the contest to score some pretty rad swag. Complete and submit the full bracket by Wednesday, March 5th  for a shot to win.  If you’re a real cheese wiz, and guess all of the winners, you’ll be entered into a drawing for a $100 Murray’s gift card.

It doesn’t stop there!

From March 6-30th, we’ll be pitting cheese against cheese in the greatest American cheese-off of ALL TIME. Come by one of our shops, in New York or nationwide, and give the two contending curds a nibble (the tasting schedule is to the right). Once you have settled on a favorite you can go online to vote for your favorite! Each time you vote, you’re entered to win big!

Prizes:

Grand Prize: Slam Dunk! We’re going all-out with this one! One lucky participant will win something really funky – a cheeselover’s dream trip to Seattle! That’s right, we’ll fly you and a pal out to Seattle, put you up in the Beecher’s loft, treat you to a fancy dinner at Boat Street Café, AND a day of cheese-making over Beecher’s Cheese!

 Runners Up: Even if you don’t win the grand prize, 15 will win a  spectacular cheesy gift set, packed full of Murray’s gear.

Below you’ll find some more information on the different producers we will be highlighting during Murray’s Mania. Click on the cheese for even more tasty info!

Want to learn more about Murray’s Mania, or enter the contest? Click here for details!

Oscar Party Cheese Plates: IT’S AN HONOR JUST TO BE NOM NOM NOM-ED

We’d like to thank all the little cheeses…and help you be fancy and impress guests at your Oscars Party with our 2014 cheese plate picks! We can’t wait to enjoy the show on March 2nd and, obviously, cheese is a must.

When serving cheese plates, remember these rules of tongue:

-stick with 3-5 cheeses
-select a variety of milk-types (goat, cow, sheep, water buffalo) or styles (bloomy, washes, fresh, blue…)
-one ounce of cheese, per cheese/ per person
-let cheese sit out at room temp for AT LEAST an hour for ultimate flavor and texture perfection
-serve from mildest to strongest

The Best Dressed List

For the Red Carpet: Bijou – Downy, creamy, round baubles—forget diamonds, this cheese is a girl’s best friend.

For the Opening Number: St. Nectaire – Golden earthy tones are just the thing to bring substance and balance to your plate.

For the Ceremony: Ossau Iraty – Classic features keep this complex, French sheep milk cheese in style all the time.

For the After-Party: Bleu d’Auvergne— Slink into velvety royal blue to end the night with decadence.

Timeless Classics

Caveman Blue

The Ingénue: Torus – Elegant and coveted and by all with eyes and taste buds

The Meryl Streep: Parmigiano Reggiano ‘Bonati’ – A classic that’s undisputed in its reign, respected and hailed as royalty; it can do no wrong.

The Foreign Contender: Scharfe Maxx – a powerful presence from abroad converts audiences with smoothness and flavors that evoke comfort foods

The Method Actor: Caveman Blue – raw yet refined; a tour de force; completely enfolds you in the authentic experience.

 

This Year’s Blockbusters

American Hustle Fresh Mozzarella –There’s no faking this whole milk, Jersey-made favorite– it’s got smooth moves and groovy style.
Her(b) Goat Log –A soft-at-heart goat cheese that’s really just looking to connect…with your mouth.
Wolf of Wall StreetBlu di Buffala – It’s a bull market for buffalo milk blues, and this one tastes money both on and off your yacht.
Nebraska  – Prairie Breeze Cheddar –Too much family-time can wear you down…find comfort with a few bites of sweet, grassy cheddar.
Gravity – Torta del Casar – Much like Anton Cuarón’s blockbuster, this cosmically delicious washed-rind has a strong lead and thought-provoking complexity.

Best Supporting Accompaniments

Marcona Almonds

Fig Jam – Sweet goes with savory like Carol Lombard goes with Clark Gable.  This spread is versatile and great to have on hand.

Marcona Almonds – A well-seasoned performance with salt-of-the-earth crunch. Think Brando in On the Waterfront…

Seashore Honey – Like Mary Pickford, this honey is pure gold, whipped into sweet, sweet perfection. It’s honey taken to a whole ‘nother level, doll.