Earlier this month I had a chance to visit the Apple Hill area in Placerville for the first time. I’d judged a barbecue contest at the fairgrounds and had just a little time in the afternoon to spare before heading home. I’d noticed the listing for Smokey Ridge Charcuterie on the visitors map and knew I had to squeeze it in.
Co-located with Smokey Ridge Ranch, the Charcuterie serves picnic lunches and sells a range of cured meats to take home. Full to the gills from the earlier barbecue, I had no room for lunch but did ask a lot of questions of the young woman tending the outdoor stand. Turns out I was speaking to Kara, the proprietress of Smokey Ridge Charcuterie. I jokingly said to her, “I hope you don’t take offense at this, but every other pitmaster I’ve met is a curmudgeonly, hairy ol’ guy, none as lovely and young as you are!” She said she’s been hearing this a lot.
Kara, pitmistress, and her menu board.
I was drawn to the tasso, since it can be hard to find in California. Kara said that’s one of the reasons she decided to make tasso. The six-ounce boneless hunks of smoked pork shoulder are frozen and vacuum-packed, selling for $6. I asked for a sample taste and really liked the allspice-dominant, highly seasoned condiment meat.
Besides tasso, I also bought the Spanish-style rillettes, $5.50, and shared them with some friends in San Francisco. We all liked them. For me, I would have preferred a saltier profile and more fat but I would still buy them again.
Besides selling at the apple farmstand during the season, Smokey Ridge Ranch products are available by subscription and at selected farmers markets.
Smokey Ridge Charcuterie
2160 Carson Rd, Placerville, CA 95667