Baltimore, a Butcher Shop, and Bologna: Bringing Back Local Whole-Animal Charcuterie

by Sean Kenniff
Antoinette Bruno
August 2014

Recipe

Restaurant

Marsh’s favorite charcuterie resource: The Art of Making Fermented Sausages by Stanley and Adam Marianski  

Fav tool: “Boning knife, of course.”

Fav equipment: “Talsa sausage stuffer. I love the simplicity of the design. It pumps up and pumps down; simple and incredibly efficient.”

Bologna has a new first name, it’s l-e-b-a-n-o-n. In the Charm City: Baltimore, Maryland, Chef-Butcher George Marsh of Parts & Labor is blowing minds with b-o-l-o-g-n-a. He’s reaching back into the Mid-Atlantic region’s rich charcuterie history and reminding meat lovers why there’s a word for bologna in the first place. Enter two distinct styles of bologna: the pickled ring and Lebanon—whose methods were developed by the Pennsylvania Dutch in the 1800s.

“We make these two styles because they are delicious, but also because they’re staples in this region, particularly in Pennsylvania where they hail from,” says Marsh. “Both are key in the utilization of trim and also in some of the larger muscles from beef and pork, which tend to be more difficult to move in a retail setting.”

Full Butcher’s Board: N’duja, Copa, Pickled Ring Bologna, Lomo, Mortadella, Smoked Boar Snack Stick, Garlic Salami, Fennel Salami, Cajun-style Sausage, Chorizo, Pickled Cauliflower, and Pickled Kohlrabi

Full Butcher’s Board: N’duja, Copa, Pickled Ring Bologna, Lomo, Mortadella, Smoked Boar Snack Stick, Garlic Salami, Fennel Salami, Cajun-style Sausage, Chorizo, Pickled Cauliflower, and Pickled Kohlrabi

Full Butcher’s Board: N’duja, Copa, Pickled Ring Bologna, Lomo, Mortadella, Smoked Boar Snack Stick, Garlic Salami, Fennel Salami, Cajun-style Sausage, Chorizo, Pickled Cauliflower, and Pickled Kohlrabi

Full Butcher’s Board: N’duja, Copa, Pickled Ring Bologna, Lomo, Mortadella, Smoked Boar Snack Stick, Garlic Salami, Fennel Salami, Cajun-style Sausage, Chorizo, Pickled Cauliflower, and Pickled Kohlrabi

Butcher George Marsh of Parts & Labor- Baltimore, MD

Butcher George Marsh of Parts & Labor- Baltimore, MD

Parts & Labor- Baltimore, MD

Parts & Labor- Baltimore, MD

Part & Labor sells charcuterie and meat over the counter, like any ordinary butcher shop. But it’s also a restaurant (with 24 beers on tap!). And oh, it’s also a 5,000-sqaure-foot meat processing facility. Anything but the ordinary butcher shop, Parts & Labor is part of the Spike Gjerde group of restaurants, and it provides any and all meat products to Woodberry, Artifact Coffee, and Shoo-fly.

Now back to bologna. Like anything worth doing, making bologna takes a while. From fabrication to slicing the finished product, “a ring bologna takes three to four days. If we pickle it, it takes about three weeks. The Lebanon is a fermented sausage made using the same approach you would use for most salamis. It takes about a month or so,” Marsh says. “The Lebanon requires the most attention.” Because this bologna is fermented and dried or aged, there are many points at which the process may go awry. Timing, temperature, and humidity all affect the final flavor and texture. The fermentation is crucial. It lowers the pH of the meat, making the bologna edible, sellable, and crave-inducing.           

At Parts & Labor, Marsh slices the bolognas and serves them on a charcuterie board with house everything: n’duja, copa, lomo, mortadella, smoked-boar snack stick, chorizo, Cajun sausage, and pickled veggies. “We’re constantly experimenting with new styles and recipes,” says Marsh. “There’s always competition from larger operations, but we didn’t decide to make either of these bolognas with that in mind. We have to be resourceful, utilizing everything from each animal. The more value we can add to each part of the animal, the more we can make back. That's the way we compete with bigger, industrialized meat processors.” 

So, it’s not all about the bologna. But they’re an important part, and emblematic of how a business model like this works. “It’s uncommon for a small producer to work solely with local farms, using strictly whole animals. There are others out there, but we’re sadly few and far between.” We couldn’t agree more! But if sales of Marsh’s bologna are any indication, Parts & Labor is creating an increasing demand through consistency, texture, and flavor—encased in an exemplary ethos, skill set, pride, and dedication.