Did you take it in? How could you not, right?
That, my friends is some house-made coppacola from our friends over at Hillcrest Artisan Meats. You may have heard me mention them a couple of hundred times. Hey, when the food is this good, a man’s gotta talk about it, you know?
So I’m sitting at work last week, and I load up Twitter to find a message from H.A.M. that I should stop by the store to try something new. At almost the same instant, I get a text message from Steve Shuler over at the Little Rock Foodcast telling me that it would most definitely be in my best interest to head up to the Hillcrest butcher shop. Neither message let on what is awaiting me there, and since I don’t need much of an excuse to go hang out at the meat counter, I hurried that way as soon as I got off.
What greeted me was that lovely display you see up top: pork cured with salt and sugar, rubbed with cayenne and left to air-dry for 4 months. Unlike other versions of this salume I’ve had, this wasn’t dried to the point of having a leathery texture, instead possessing a chewy, unctuous texture that hit the sweet spot that comes with the perfect balance of muscle with fat. The flavor was salty, spicy, earthy, and wild all at once, with a sort of elegant funk to it that gave it one hell of a character. I chewed a couple more slices in silence, eyes half closed, experiencing one of those food moments that only seem to happen to me with good pork. It was a delightful and delectable triumph, and a sign of more good things to come from the H.A.M. crew.
Special thanks to Brandon and Tara Brown for sharing this particular delicacy with me — I made sure to buy a pound of hanger steak as a thank you (and I still got the better end of that deal, because I had hanger for my supper). Yet another reason why Little Rock has the best butcher shop in these United States. Happy eating!