Last week, the new location of Ranch Foods Direct (1228 E. Fillmore St.) and its chef Kevin Campbell hosted the Food Report for a preview of mouthwatering proportions: house-made charcuterie courtesy of Campbell.
The chef, seen on the local pop-up dinner circuit and a mainstay of RFD, unveiled quarter-inch-thick bacon, head cheese, bologna, tissue-thin smoked ham, and three kinds of salami. All this was paired with moist and crunchy bread from Sourdough Boulangerie and pickles from The Good Jar in Boulder. Both are available in the new store.
“I’ve been doing nothing but this for the past year: traveling, visiting with people, reading, working, working with the masters,” say Campbell. “I just got back from Seattle, did a master butchering and charcuterie workshop with a woman named Kate Hill. She came out from France with her butcher; she has this farm outside of Bordeaux, which I need to go visit next month.”
All the meat used for the new charcuterie program, which should be available to customers by fall in individual and sandwich form, is raised by owner Mike Callicrate on his Kansas ranch. It will be harvested there and arrive split in Colorado Springs, where the meat will be broken by Campbell.
This particular board brought chorizo, wagyu and chuck salami. The wagyu shone brightest in my opinion — the deep flavors complimented by wagyu fat and a hint of truffle salt — but any would be worth the $10 or $12.
The bacon was thick and chewy, salty and and a little obscene. It got its start curing for 14 days, resting another two weeks, and then seeing cold smoke for eight hours after a hit of salt, pepper and sugar.
A slab of head cheese tasted clean, sweet and meaty, but the smoked Virginia-style ham was the true star: It acted more like a funky prosciutto, paper-thin pieces tearing apart under their own weight. It took a year of work, and you could taste the invested time. And no complaints about a soft bologna.
“There are a few people in Denver doing it,” Campbell says. “Nobody’s doing this here.”
See below for more images from the new Ranch Foods Direct, where you can find Springside Cheese from Pueblo, Elevation Organic Ketchup from Denver and more.
[Images: Bryce Crawford]