Feeling Adventurous in the Kitchen? Learn How to Cure Your Own Ham at #GFFchi

Curing your own ham might sound a bit intimidating, but Rob Leavitt of The Butcher & Larder will break it down for you step-by-step at the 12th Annual Good Food Festival & Conference.

“It is a subject that a lot of people are curious about. Ham in all its iterations and cured meats in general are very popular. I get asked almost every day by a customer how best to learn about curing. There aren’t a lot of resources out there, and regardless, it is difficult to get a clear understanding of how to cure meats from a book.” Leavitt says.

Rob and his wife Allison opened their restaurant, mado, in the Bucktown neighborhood of Chicago in April 2008. After three years of critical acclaim for their local, sustainable, whole animal approach to cooking, they decided to take the next step. The Butcher & Larder is an evolution of their years of experience working with farmers and doing what they can to bring responsibly raised local meat to their community. They are proud to operate Chicago’s first local, sustainable, whole animal butcher shop.

“People who come in here and ask lots of questions about the meat that we buy and we are happy to answer them. We’re not trying to hide anything. Wednesday is when we get most of our animals in and we butcher them right at the table. There’s no ‘back room.’ Everything’s right out in the open….”

This year’s workshop will be Leavitt’s third at the Good Food Festival & Conference. Last year he taught festival-goers about charcuterie and helped field their questions about Good Food.

“Like every Good Food Festival demo, it was great. Lots of folks interested in the subject asking great questions. There are always people who want to know about dry curing versus pâté and other kinds of cooked charcuterie, so I answered the questions as best I could, but that’s how the idea for this class was born. That and my intense love for cured ham.”

Rob hopes attendees will leave this year’s workshop with a better understanding of different types of cured hams, weather dry cured, brined, bone-in, prosciutto, country or serrano and the differences between and uses for each. He plans to demonstrate the different procedures for making a variety of hams and show that, while the methods and techniques aren’t overly complicated, the nuance takes skill and practice.

Rob Levitt of Chicago’s The Butcher & Larder shows the loaf he made for a country pâté at a charcuterie workshop at FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Festival last year.

“I want to show, too, that there are more uses for a ham than just curing. Ham is a fantastic primal with lots of really great cuts for quick cooking.” says Leavitt.

So take some time and learn the unique art of curing from a pro, dine on a few tasty samples, and come away with a new appreciation for how versatile ham can be.

Be sure to check out all of the great programming at the 12th Annual Good Food Festival this year. Admission to the Good Food Festival includes Rob’s session as well as DIY workshops in the Organic Valley Good Food Commons area.

Buy online and save ‐ tickets available at
Hours: 10 a.m.‐5 p.m March 26. Admission: $10 online ($15 at the door); kids 12 and under are free.

Rob Levitt of Chicago’s The Butcher & Larder filled a room for a charcuterie workshop at FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Festival Saturday.

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