Cuisine - - DISCUSS -

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

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