Sunday, April 2, 2017

Saturday Shopping, Macelleria Maggiore, Pimonte (Na)

An invitation to go shopping one Saturday morning by Sous Chef Giuseppe Romano took me by surprise.  It took me by surprise, but also sparked my curiosity.  You see, Romano wanted to invite me the small town of Pimote, his hometown, straight to his local butcher – Macelleria Maggiore.
Not just his butcher, but THE butcher for many of the top restaurants up and down the nearby Sorrento Peninsula.  I was about to find out why.

Sure, I’ve always known about how important the quality of the products are for any chef.  But to be honest, my focus was usually on top seasonal fruits and vegetables, fresh local seafood.  I rarely thought about the importance of the right butcher – until that Saturday morning just a couple of weeks ago.
There I was greeted by Gino Donnarumma  who was ready to walk me through his family’s butcher shop.

Gino Donnarumma
First stop, the back room behind the counter where his brother Lello was cutting up steaks.  I listened closely as the brothers pointed out the differences in cuts, spoke about the differences in flavors between the sexes of the cattle and the maturity.  A little complex, but interesting.  Some info can be found here.

Lello Donnarumma

We talked about the importance of fat in a good piece of steak that I’d like to throw on the grill, in contrast to a beef cutlet that should be practically fat free. 

But a butcher is not just steak!  Chicken of different colors and sizes can be found behind the counter. A couple of examples? Donnarumma pointed out a large yellow-skinned free range bird that would be perfect for a chicken cacciatore thanks to the fat that would be released during cooking.  A younger smaller bird is the type that I can find at my local rotisserie chicken stand.

It was time to head downstairs to the cantina.  To the area where Donnarumma’s family makes their salamis and other products that need to age in the cool fresh, natural environment.

 Products like pancetta.  I got a look, and made a video.

Though the video is in Italian, you can easily see the process.  Donnarumma cuts off the extra pig skin from the pork’s stomach. (This is done since this pancetta will be placed in its intestine, then packed in a plastic net – not sown up).  Afterwards, rolled up, the ends cut off.
Then unrolled, he places the ends inside the stomach..  Then time to spice it up with fennel seeds from the Amalfi Coast, pepper, and red chili flakes.  Donnarumma rolls it up again, stuffs it into pork intetstine, then again into a plastic net.  Next, the pancetta is tied and trussed. 

And there you have it!

 While there, I got a quick look at Donnarumma preparing sausage for a local restaurant.  A very busy morning- and it was only noon! 

Chef Romano, Donnarumma, and Chef Gerardo Garofalo

Back upstairs, the butcher shop was crowded, so Gino joined his brother and his mom behind the counter.  But not before I could thank him for his time and a look into his magical wonderful world.

Grazie, Gino!

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