Jake Levin

The Roving Butcher


Jake Levin is the author of The Smokehouse Handbook. A butcher and charcuterie expert who trained at Fleisher’s Grass-fed and Organic Meats in Kingston, New York, he has worked in whole-animal butcher shops including The Meat Market in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and Eli’s Manhattan in New York City. He currently produces cured meats at Jacuterie, an artisanal charcuterie in Ancramdale, New York, and travels nationwide conducting workshops on how to slaughter, butcher, and cure meats. He and his wife live in New Marlborough, Massachusetts.

Jake will be speaking at the Pennsylvania Fair.


Check It Out!

The Fundamentals of Smoking

This workshop takes the audience through the fundamentals of smoking meat. Butcher and charcuterie expert Jake Levin begins by giving a basic introduction that situates the process in its historical roots as a way of preserving meat. Emphasizing the humble nature of the work, Levin explores the idea that, with some basic equipment and knowledge, anyone can produce high-quality smoked meats at home. He shares a brief history of smoked foods throughout the world. Learn how smoking meat involves the interplay of three basic elements: the meat itself, the temperature, and the wood. In terms of the meat, Levin describes what cuts are best suited for smoking and why. He also talks about the importance of various kinds of salt, as well as sugars and other spices for flavoring (as well as helping with preservation). Find out about the differences between hot smoking and cold smoking. Discover some of the most common fuels or sources of smoke (such as oak and fruitwood), as well as some of the less familiar (such as hay, tea, and even dung). Levin introduces various smoking techniques, including smoking on a grill, pit roasting, stove-top smoking, barbecuing, and using a smokehouse. Next, he covers the basic tools and pieces of equipment needed to produce smoked meats at home, from the most rudimentary to the fairly involved and high end. Hear about some of the smokers you can buy and various kinds you can make in your own backyard (including grill pits, barrel smokers, offset smokers, and the design for Levin's tri-purpose smokehouse).
Modern Homesteading Real Foods

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Smoking Around the World

This workshop takes the audience around the globe, looking at five different smoking traditions: American Barbecue from the Carolinas to Texas, Bavarian Black Forest Ham and Speck, West African Smoked Fish, Chinese Tea-Smoked Duck Breast, and Argentinian Asado. Each region allows butcher and charcuterie expert Jake Levin to explore different techniques and styles of smoking, as well as the way in which place and culture come to inform these traditions. Through American-style hot smoking, Levin discusses the merging of West African, Spanish, and indigenous American food traditions. He describes why Carolina barbecue focuses on pork and woods such as oak and cherry, whereas with Texas barbecue, beef reigns supreme (and it's often peach or mesquite wood that's used). Turning to Bavaria, Levin highlights how using non-hard woods (such as fir and juniper) as a source of fuel imparts a distinctly bitter flavor. He also talks about cold smoking and dry curing pork. Through a consideration of West Africa, Levin looks at pit smoking, smoking fish, and using grass and hay as a source of smoke. Argentinian Asado traditions illustrate how you can smoke over an open grill and smoke goat and lamb. Through a discussion of Chinese Tea-Smoked Duck Breast, Levin talks about smoking poultry, stove-top smoking, and getting more creative with your source of smoke (including rice and tea).
Modern Homesteading Real Foods

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Smoked Sausage Production Demonstration

Make smoked sausage at home! Beginning with a brief history of the process, butcher and charcuterie expert Jake Levin explains what cuts of meat are best suited for sausage production and why. He demonstrates the best conditions for grinding meat and reveals how to achieve different textures. Learn how to decide what to include in sausage and what ratios to use for salt and other ingredients. Levin provides frameworks for coming up with original recipes, and he describes and demonstrates how to mix meat and spices. Watch as he stuffs farce in casings and outlines options (including different sizes, synthetic vs. natural casings, and more). Focusing on methods pertaining to smoking, he demonstrates techniques for linking sausage. The workshop ends with a talk about steps for smoking, depending on whether you're making sausage to hot smoke or to cold smoke and dry cure.
Modern Homesteading Real Foods

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Me and My Smoker

This workshop focuses on the smoker that butcher and charcuterie expert Jake Levin designed and built with his brother. He reveals why they made the design decisions they did, and how their project resulted in a working tri-purpose smoker. Levin's first experiment with it was cold-smoked lox, and that same winter they pit-roasted a whole pig for 60 guests using an ancient Mayan recipe. Levin now celebrates his birthday and his brothers' by smoking anywhere from 5 to 20 ribs, a couple of pork shoulders, beans, and more. Follow his personal journey learning to smoke meat (and writing a book about the process) in this workshop that includes descriptions of various smoking techniques and styles of smokers.
Modern Homesteading Real Foods

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