Canard de Rilletes at Sea Breeze Farms ($39/pound)
If I could transform ducks into anything like Sea Breeze Farm's canard de rillettes, it might be worth the hassle of raising them. Based on Vashon Island, Sea Breeze breeds chickens, ducks, sheep, pigs, and cattle and shows up, every weekend, to the Ballard and University District Farmers' Markets with fresh cuts, charcuterie, eggs, and dairy products. The rillettes owe their deliciousness to grass-fed Grimaud ducks and not much else. Dark, rich meat is cooked long and slow with plenty of fat until it's meltingly soft. Shred, salt, mold. I could eat it with a spoon.
Cured and Smoked Pork Sirloin at The Swinery ($12/pound)
The Swinery in West Seattle offers a curated selection of local meats alongside house-cured bacon, house-made sausages and lunch-ready sandwiches. Sometimes, rather than eat out, I like to brown-bag it. Cured and smoked pork sirloin is the perfect cold-cut for my own house-made grinder. The double-muscle —loin and tenderloin — is treated to a brown sugar and salt bath before getting bronzed in the smoker, sliced thin and piled onto a sandwich. For a special treat, ask for an extra-thick slice and throw it on the barbecue. Once you've got grill marks, you've got dinner.
Landjaeger at Bavarian Meats ($9.95/pound)
When you think charcuterie, you might not think Bavaria, but think again: German cuisine is crowded with knackwurst, kassler and liverwurst. You'll find all this and more at Bavarian Meats, a family-run operation at the Pike Place Market. Bring your (or someone else's) kid along and you might score a free wiener, but landjaeger is the real prize. The smoked, dried sausage —a secret blend of beef, pork, spices and family know-how — is the original energy bar. Stuff a few of these in your pack and you'll be up the Matterhorn in no time.
Pork Liver Mousse at Rain Shadow Meat Squared ($16.99/pound)
Rain Shadow Meats Squared is the ambitious younger sibling of Capitol Hill's Rain Shadow Meats. Like its older brother, the Pioneer Square shop is a mecca of butchery arts, with the addition of a full menu to boot. Rain Shadow is a nose-to-tail kind of spot, and excels at transforming lesser-loved animal parts into beloved charcuterie. Take pork liver, for instance. With milk, cream, seasonings, heat, and time, Rain Shadow transforms the assertive organ into a delicate mousse with the goes-down-easy smoothness of an R&B song. I recommend it for breakfast.
Mortadella with Pistachios at Dot’s Delicatessen ($22/pound)
I recently wrote an ode to the grilled beef tongue at Dot's, but my affection doesn't stop there. The mortadella, for instance, is as enlightening as any charcuterie you'll find. It's baloney with a PhD, but more employable. Eat it alone or on a sandwich, or incorporate it into a simple pasta or salad. Using pork from Oregon's Carlton Farms, Dot's chops the meat fine before folding in pistachios, seasonings and the all-important pork fat. Stuffed into a casing and smoked, the velvety meat manages sophistication while satisfying my eight-year-old palate.
Cured Meats sampler at Salumi ($13.50)
Tourists know Salumi as the creation of Armandino Batali, father of star chef Mario. Locals know it for the block-long line at lunch hour. The sandwiches owe their popularity to a combination of old-world know-how and modern technology that transforms porcine parts into coppa, culatello, and guanciale tasty enough to make nonna proud. Their air-cured salami is the ultimate charcuterie. Sopresetta, paprika, finnochiona, and molé are a few of the varieties. To try them all, order the cured meats sampler, but good luck choosing a favorite.