Meet the Meats: La Quercia

Shop Murray’s Cheese for La Quercia Artisan Meats Now!

How did a family in Norwalk, Iowa come to produce some of the best cured meats in the world? It started with tradition: After three and a half years in Parma, Italy, Herb and Kathy Eckhouse brought classic techniques back home to create their signature salumi, something they say “expresses our appreciation for the beauty and bounty of Iowa”. Adding responsible sourcing and sustainability to the recipe means that their products don’t just taste great, they’re also produced with the highest standards and best quality ingredients around.

 

With the demand for awesome American meat constantly growing, Murray’s and La Quercia are now teaming up to help more people get a bite of the good stuff. We will now be stocking even more of their products, and helping Herb distribute his goods to more people. Here are some new products that you have to taste:

Tamworth Bacon - This is the “end all, be all” Bacon. Produced from the belly of the Tamworth pig, this Bacon is full of well-balanced smoky and fatty flavors. Tamworth pigs snack on acorn for a few months which leaves a smooth, lingering nutty flavor on your tongue after the fat melts away.

Pancetta - This pancetta is the perfect balance of herbaceous and fatty sweetness. Perfect for flavoring a dish, bright notes of Juniper and Bay leaf will immediately stand out. Making pasta for dinner? Throw in a bit of Pancetta to bring it to the next level.

Prosciutto – Finding a cured ham that can compete with the Europeans can be tricky, but La Quercia gives even the Italians a run for their money. Nutty, fruity, and slightly sweet, this prosciutto will easily convert the most devoted Italophile.

Lomo Americano – Unlike most cured meats, Lomo is produced from pork tenderloin. This makes Lomo slightly less fatty than some other cuts, but it sure doesn’t lack in flavor. Rubbed with pimento and cocoa, slightly spicy and has incredible depth. This guy is the perfect prosciutto substitute, and plays well with wine.

Speck - Some hams are smoked, others cured. Speck has the distinct honor of receiving both treatments. The smokiness and saltiness combined perfectly to create a meat that is made for pairing. From dense aged cheeses, to bright, tangy, fresh ones; speck can easily transition into many roles.

Iowa White Spread – Like Buttered bread? Yea, me too. But when I tried a schmear of this stuff on a toasted baguette, my world changed. White Spread is basically prosciutto fat that has been cured, and then ground leaving it smooth like velvet. Think porky butter.

Guanciale – Meaning check in Italian, this cured pork jowl is anything but cheeky. The jowl holds some of the pigs most highly concentrated flavors, making Guanciale perfect for cooking with.

 

– LEO RUBIN

When Leo is not mongering behind the counter at Grand Central he is pursuing his Food Studies degree at the New School or interning in the Murray’s Marketing Department or developing new recipes for the store or managing an event or eating cheese.

Spring Recipe Idea: Bacon Wrapped Dates Stuffed with Goat Cheese & Almonds

Just in time for Easter brunch – an easy and delicious recipe.

Bacon wrapped anything is just plain good. Wrap bacon around a scallop and you have an impossibly delicious land-meets-sea cocktail party morsel. Cover a chicken liver in bacon and you can make an offal-hater on a diet believe “fat meets fat” is a good thing (Fat is not a bad thing, by the way, but that’s a topic for another blog).

I started at Murray’s 3 months ago and one of my first assignments was to make our Bacon Wrapped Dates. I was quickly reminded of how much I adore bacon wrapped things when I pulled the first batch from the oven and – for professional reasons of course – popped one in my mouth.

The first rush is the smoky-salty perfection that is bacon, freshly sliced Nueske’s slab bacon to be precise. The bacon is wrapped around a plump Medjool date which any oven magically transforms into a gooey sweet candy. And here comes the kicker: inside the date is a creamy, tangy oozing bite of Bucheron goat cheese AND a surprising, pleasant crunch thanks to a single Marcona almond.

Crunchy, creamy. sweet, and salty – all in one bite. There isn’t a thing missing from this 3-D style hors d’oeuvres experience. It’s like a study in contrast of flavor and texture, I kid you not. Salty. Sweet. Creamy Crunchy. Want to make them? Of course you do. Lucky for you it’s incredibly easy. So get going, and bon appetit!

Bacon-Wrapped Dates     makes 10 pieces

10 Medjool dates (the large ones), pit removed with a paring knife

10 slices bacon (sliced thin)

10 whole marcona almonds

8-10 oz Bucheron

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Gently push 1 ounce of cheese and one almond inside each date. Squeeze the cut section of the date together. The natural stickiness will serve as a seal when you press the sides together and will help keep the cheese from oozing out.
  3. Lay a bacon strip down long ways and roll the date into the bacon.
  4. Place the dates on a baking sheet. If you have a wire cooling rack, place it on top of sheet pan and bake on this so the fat drips through the rack.
  5. Cook in the middle of the oven for 12-15 minutes, until the bacon is crisp.
  6. Dates will be hot! Let cool thoroughly to at or near room temperature before serving.

 

Michele Pulaski is a consulting chef at Murray’s Cheese. She has a way with words and can’t resist a colorful scarf.