When then line cook Scott Bridi spearheaded Gramercy Tavern’s charcuterie program, something clicked. “I really fell for making these things,” Bridi recalls. “I knew I would be making charcuterie or involved with it for the rest of my life.”
Bridi continued breaking down whole animals during stints as chef of Lot 2 and butcher at Marlow & Daughters. In 2010, he turned the art of transforming meat and fat into “something smooth, delicate and…sexy” into a business: Brooklyn Cured. To Bridi, Brooklyn Cured is about more than preserving meat; he hopes to keep the legacy of Italian-American pork stores alive. It’s a tradition deeply rooted in Bridi’s own history, as an Italian-American who grew up in Bensonhurst, an Italian neighborhood in Brooklyn where pork stores and butcher culture have long thrived.
Sourcing from local, sustainable farms, Bridi brings modern flavors to many cured classics. In addition to year-round standbys, Bridi likes to “focus on ingredients that are seasonal and that people are craving at that time of year…like a broccoli rabe and parmesan pork sausage when broccoli rabe’s in season; sour cherry mostarda and dandelion greens sausage when dandelions greens are at the greenmarket; and turkey chestnut for Thanksgiving.” All of Brooklyn Cured’s products are handmade and nitrate-free (with the exception of the ham and country pates, whose relatively low, slow cooking temperatures make them more susceptible to bacteria).
You can find Brooklyn Cured’s bratwursts, chicken chorizo, hickory-smoked bacon, pastrami and more at markets, shops and restaurants across the city, including at 61 Local, the craft-happy Cobble Hill “public house” where Brooklyn Cured’s spring classes take place.
“Accessibility and transparency are key,” says Bridi of the classes, during which students learn sausage making skills they can use at home—no meat grinder or sausage stuffer required. After some hands-on practice, students will have a chance to stuff themselves, with 61 Local’s select beer pairings to wash the links down.
When it comes to sausages, does Bridi play favorites? Sort of. “I love them all equally. Our lamb sausages are probably at the top of my list in terms of what I actually enjoy eating, like the lamb with black olives, the lamb merguez… and we’re working on a spring lamb sausage with oregano, charred lemons and Greek yogurt folded into the mix. We’re also working on some all beef hot dogs. Anything new is my favorite.”
March 20: The Classics: Italian Sausage, Bratwurst and Bangers
April 24: Who Needs Pork? An Ode to Poultry and Lamb Sausages
May 20: Memorial Day Grilling Sausages: Kielbasa, Chicken Chorizo and TBA
All classes are 7-9pm and cost $45 (plus fees).
61 Local, 61 Bergen Street (at Smith Street), Carroll Gardens
Images courtesy of the featured restaurants.