POAKA NEW ZEALAND
Poaka Finocchiona Fermented & Dry Cured Salami
WHAT DO YOU DO with a farm that’s too small to farm commercially, and a 10-hectare orchard planted with sweet Spanish chestnuts? Raise pigs, was Josh Hill’s answer, then make salumi.
Twenty-five years ago, Josh’s father planted a sweet chestnut orchard with the intention of exporting chestnuts. However, this market didn’t develop and the orchard lay underused. After flying helicopters, working in the renewable energy sector, and latterly managing farms in the sheep and beef sector, Josh (pictured above) began to wonder how to make the best of the family farm. If he was prepared to start from scratch and develop a herd of heritage breed pigs, he decided he could raise these special animals on the available pasture and use the chestnut crop to produce world-class salumi. That way he could control his own free-range farming supply chain from scratch and ensure the very best pork. So, today Josh raises Tamworth, Berkshire and Wessex Saddleback pigs on 40 hectares in Aylesbury near Christchurch. From these pigs he produces Poaka handcrafted bacon, sausages and salami.
He chose those heritage-breed pigs as they survive and grow well when raised completely outdoors with pasturebased foraging making up a large part of their diet. “Tamworths are capable of looking after themselves and they can’t be beaten when it comes to foraging.” This makes them ideal for finishing in the chestnut orchard during the autumn cycle, where they snuffle through the fallen nuts, deftly nipping off the green spiky outer shell and gorging on the sweet nut flesh. Josh says that the grass, herbs, and particularly the chestnuts result in a fat that creates the perfect texture for melt-in-your-mouth salumi.
But raising happy pigs is only part of the story. To produce the best artisanstyle salumi Josh had to build his business around small-batch processing and commit to a business model that depends on time – time to properly mature the animals and to let natural processes occur at their speed. Poaka pigs are raised for 12-14 months (at least twice as old as commercially farmed animals), as older pigs have more flavoursome meat and thicker fat. The salami is made in the traditional Italian way, the meat mixed with organic salt, pepper, garlic and wine, fermented for 2-3 days then into the maturing chamber to dry for 8-12 weeks. “We work with nature where we can, using natural casings, natural starter cultures and natural moulds.”
Cuisine Artisan Awards head judge Fiona Smith says, “Poaka handcrafted finocchiona salami is so reminiscent of the really premium salamis of Italy, you feel transported. The salami is traditionally fermented and matured, has the perfect fat-tomeat ratio and is delicately flavoured with fennel seeds.” poaka.co.nz