LOCALLY SOURCED, WITH international flair. That's not a contradiction once you taste the dried sausage from Jacuterie in Ancramdale.
On the ground floor of what used to be a storage facility at Herondale Farm, Jack Peele has founded the first state-licensed charcuterie facility in Columbia County. The son of Herondale owners Jerry and Iva Peele, Jack hand-crafts multiple varieties of dried sausage, as well as several varieties of bacon and fresh sausage.
The oldest of three children, Peele was born in London, lived in Bermuda for seven years before moving to the United States, and then relocated to Ancramdale when his family purchased Herondale in 2002. He still maintains dual citizenship with the United Kingdom and has completed extensive travel throughout Europe. "Our unique upbringing has definitely influenced what I'm doing here," Peele says. "I really wanted to incorporate an international feel into Jacuterie."
Jacuterie currently offers five varieties of dried sausage. The French-derived saucisson sec is the most basic-the other varieties build on its flavors. Peele produces Italian finocchiona (fennel, garlic, red wine) and soppressata (red pepper, garlic, white wine), Spanish chorizo (paprika, garlic, chile pepper), and his latest creation, a Swiss-derived alpine cervelat, which includes mustard seeds, nutmeg, ginger and coriander.
Trained as a pastry chef at the French Culinary Institute in New York, Peele worked in film and photography before returning to the farm in Columbia County. He began experimenting with charcuterie on his own and returned to the French Culinary Institute for a weekend course on the subject, only to find that he had figured out much of the process on his own. "It gave me the confidence to keep going," he says.
As he mixes the spices for a new trial flavor of sausage, Peele takes on the personality of a mad scientist. Each step is recorded in one of several notebooks, which include recipes as well as measurements of temperature and pH. Peele uses meat from the hams of the pigs, which, if not from Herondale, are sourced from local farms practicing the same sustainable and antibiotic-free farming methods. The back fat, however, is solely from Herdondale. "I tried using fat from other farms, but it just didn't compare," he says. "Maybe more so than the quality of the meat, the quality of the fat makes a huge difference in the overall quality." Peele says the casings also make a difference-he uses all-natural casings sourced from a Syracuse-area supplier that exclusively uses American pigs.
Despite the international flavors and packaging, Peele is proud of his still very local products. "If you do it locally and in small batches, the quality is so much higher," Peele concludes. "I make everything myself by hand, so I can speak directly to the end result." His path to charcuterie has been anything but traditional, but he's found his passion now. "I'll never get tired of the smell of ground pork," Peele jokes. "It still makes my mouth water every time."
Jacuterie's dried sausages, as well as bacon and fresh sausages, are available at the Herondale Farm Store and the Millerton Farmers' Market.