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David Gingrass is one of San Francisco's most versatile charcutiers, though perhaps not as well-known as Bruce Aidell who has dominated the San Francisco sausage scene since the mid-1980's and the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market until the arrival of Gingrass Family Sausages. (Is it just a coincidence that two of the Bay Area's famous sausage makers have wives who are famous chefs!?) All of the Gingrass sausages are made by hand, using traditional mixing and stuffing techniques. David has an excellent website at http://www.hawthornelane.com showing pictures of the sausage-making process.
How David Got into Sausages
David began making sausages just after graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in 1982 and for the next 13 years, including during his tenure as co-chef (shared with his wife Anne Gingrass) at Postrio Restaurant, he worked on perfecting his sausage-making technique and developing recipes. David's sausages have been featured in some of Postrio's classic dishes such as David's Charcuterie Plate and Sun-Dried Tomato Sausage with Pasta and are now featured in dishes at Hawthorne Lane Restaurant such as Spicy Fennel Sausage with Cabbage Risotto, Smoked Lamb and Garlic Sausage with Roasted Red Pepper Confit and Curried Chicken Sausage with Cucumber-Potato Salad.
David's public retail debut came in the fall of 1993 when he began selling at the Saturday San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market. But from the fall of 1994 to the fall of 1995, he had to suspend his participation while he was involved with Anne in transitioning from Postrio to their own newly-opened restaurant, Hawthorne Lane Restaurant.
He rejoined the farmers' market scene in the fall of 1995 and appears regularly at the farmers' markets in Marin (Thursdays); San Jose (Fridays); San Francisco-Ferry Plaza ( Tuesdays and Saturdays) and again at Marin (Sundays).
Sausages and More
David currently makes 8 varieties of fresh and smoked sausages, smoked Atlantic salmon, smoked "Belusa" sturgeon, smoked salmon cream cheese, pancetta, lamb pastrami and liverwurst. Prices range from $5.00 -7.00 lb. for sausages, $5.00 lb. for pancetta and $6.00 lb. for lamb pastrami. All are pre-weighed and pre-wrapped, averaging about 1 lb. or more. The Curried Chicken Sausages pack the lowest amount of calories (114.3 per 2 oz serving) and Duck and Fruit Sausages pack the most calories (178.1 per 2 oz. serving).
Working from the kitchen at Hawthorne Lane, he stuffs 800 lbs. of sausages a week: 150 lbs. are used at the restaurant itself and 650 lbs. are sold during the week at the 5 farmers' markets he participates in.
David reports that his best sellers are the Sweet Herb Chicken Sausage and the Chicken and Mushroom Sausage. But I find that 2 of his tastiest charcuterie products are his pancetta and lamb pastrami:
To my knowledge, David Gingrass and Robert Helstrom (chef at Kuleto's Restaurant) are the only two chefs in the Bay Area who make true Italian-style pancetta. Helstrom uses all of his pancetta in his various restaurants, but fortunately David sells his to the public as well as supplying to Hawthorne Lane. Curing pancetta is a slow process. David starts with slabs of fresh pork bellies, coats each one with a mixture of salt and spices, rolls it into a tight bundle, wraps the bundle in a plastic wrap and lets it cure in the refrigerator for 2 weeks. He makes 50 lbs. of pancetta each week.
For the home cook, the only minor inconvenience is that David's pancetta is sold in pre-packaged chunks 2 - 3 " long. Slicing it into thin slices by hand may be difficult for most home cooks. However, those with a sharp knife will be truly rewarded by one of the tastiest pancetta's of the New World!
This is one of David's truly unique and tastiest items. Don't miss this unusual treat! It's a lamb shoulder, coated on the outside with a thick layer of coarsely crushed black peppercorns and cured as pastrami. It's sold thinly sliced and it's perfect for sandwiches. David says started making lamb pastrami to use up lamb shoulder that the restaurant had little use for after using the primer cuts of the whole Sonoma lamb. It takes about 3 days to cure the pastrami.
Our Sunday lunch is usually a open-face lamb pastrami sandwich served on warm focaccia just out of our oven, and topped with arugula and thinly sliced red onions. A Market treat!
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