Dingley Dell Charcuterie - giving Jamon Iberico a run for its money

OK people. Let's talk about salami. No sniggering please! This is very serious business. And big business at that. Over the last 10 years a quiet revolution has been gathering apace. On farms, at delis, in the cool back rooms of pub and restaurant kitchens, with great ambition and using time-honoured traditions, a new wave of charcutier has emerged. The results? They speak for themselves. Much as English sparkling wine has been clawing at the heels of Champagne (and often miraculously winning the battle), the salami, chorizo, lomo and coppa produced on British soil have been giving our neighbours on the continent a run for their money.

There are some stonkingly good brands to choose from. Marsh Pig. Cobble Lane. The Real Cure. But I begin this blog, my first post in fact, close to home in rural Suffolk, and with a collection of products I can honestly say stand head and shoulders with anything cured of the 'oink' variety I've nibbled in Italy and Spain.

Let me take you to Dingley Dell. A patchwork of fields sprawled across the county's scenic Heritage Coast. Picture ancient woodlands furnished with twisted oaks and well-trodden bridleways. Salty sea air. Quivering heads of buttercup yellow rapeseed as far as the eye can see. And hundreds of higher welfare pigs pushing their curious snouts into freshly turned earth.

The pork from Dingley Dell is revered not only in Suffolk and East Anglia, but is used by some of the UK's top chefs and restaurants, favoured for its higher welfare husbandry, and for the rich-tasting, incomparable quality of the end product.

Nearly a decade ago farmer and head honcho Mark Hayward mentioned in passing to a peer his desire to make the 'Holy Grail' of pork products. And so a happy new business relationship with born, joining forces with Direct Meats founder Martin Blackwell, and more recently British charcuterie expert Sean Cannon, to bring those dreams to life.

The results are astounding.

But it's been no mean feat. No expense has been spared in the creation of Dingley Dell's cured range. A breeding programme to essentially create the ideal pig for charcuterie was put in place, using the latest scientific advances and technology to measure the fat to muscle ratio for the 'sweet spot'. And the Red Duroc Suffolk pig bred by Mark and the team is now recognised by Defra.

"This is one of the best curing facilities in the country," says Sean. "This programme is really up there. It's a brilliant project to be involved with , and I feel this is going to take British charcuterie to the next level."

"The fat is where the flavour is," explains Mark. "When you allow these products to come to room temperature the fat, with the cure and spices, activates receptors in the mouth that massively heighten the taste. I honestly think we've made something that will stand up and hold its own against the best of Italian and Spanish."

And stand up they do. Let's take a look at some of the range...

Iceni Salami – This one’s speckled with large bites of black peppercorns and flavoured with white wine and garlic – similar to French saucisson sec. The finish is coarse, and not too salty.

Guillinbursti – Lomo style. Thin slivers of meat are dry cured with a peppery, slightly spicy edge. At room temperature the lomo absolutely melts in the mouth. Partner with dried figs and dates in autumn and winter, and with stone fruits in high summer.

Albion – Coppa inspired. This product is a deep shade of maroon with delicate ribbons of soft fat throughout. Sweet, and slightly herbal.

Elidure Chorizo – Infused with the finest Spanish paprika. A beautifully dark colour with evenly distributed pockets of fat, and a gentle, layering heat.

Moccus – Milano-style salami. Not too salty. Rich with sweet pork flavour and a hint of garlic and black pepper in the background.

Also from Dingley Dell Cured- dry-cured British prosciutto, bresaola-style British beef, pancetta, dried Kabanosy-style sausages, 36-hour smoked nduja, bacon, cooking chorizo.

Serve simply, with crusty bread, a few pickles, a glass of fizz.

Find out more and order here.

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