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- D'Artagnan is an organic, antibiotic- and hormone-free meat purveyor that's been playing the DTC game since 1985.
- Specializing in French standards and delicacies alike, you'll find everything from humanely raised beef, poultry, and lamb to wild game, caviar, and truffles.
- D'Artagnan remains a staple for us when we want to splurge on decadent meats, and it's been a chef favorite for over 30 years.
- Now through November 29, you can take 30% off during its Black Friday sale on meats like chicken, duck, quail, and more.
- See more: Where to buy meat online
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In 1985, Ariane Daguin and George Faison were working in a New York City charcuterie shop, when a farmer walked in and pitched his foie gras — the first to be domestically raised and produced in the United States. After the shop owner declined to sell said foie gras, Daguin and Faison formed a duo and took on the farmer's proposal, founding D'Artagnan.
First, the brand started out supplying lobes of foie gras directly to restaurants, but soon branched out with a whole line of game meats and humanely raised, free-range, organic, antibiotic-and-hormone-free livestock and poultry. To ensure quality and consistency — both where animal husbandry and processing are concerned — Daguin and Faison developed a network of around 1,500 small farms nationwide.
Today, you can find D'Artagnan in specialty stores and supermarkets all around the United States, but it's through the brand's online shop that you can buy everything from wild truffles and uncured Wagyu beef bresaola to semi-boneless quail, caviar, rolled wild boar shoulder, and, yes, foie gras (for now — pay attention to changing laws).
I've been buying from D'Artagnan (on special occasions) for over 10 years, and while I have always been familiar with certain items (namely the muscovy duck breast and the chicken), I decided to retest the brand and get a better scope of its product line. My sensory memory has not failed me: across the gamut, everything was just as I remembered it, and the entire array of charcuterie further affirmed D'Artagnan's place among the best and most inveterate DTC brands from which to buy high-quality and responsibly raised, processed, cured, and uncured proteins. Here's what I ordered.
Everything I ordered
Artisanal Dry-Cured Saucisson Sec, Pork
"This is the sort of dry sausage you'd find handmade in the mountains of France," my French taste tester exalted as her eyes rolled back in equal parts ecstasy and nostalgia. Ever upset with the charcuterie at our disposal stateside, this is the only one that's gotten her approval.
It's a milder, middle-of-the-road crowdpleaser that's not likely to offend. A little salty, the pork is the centerpiece here, and there are no surprises. Garlic, white pepper, celery extract, and nutmeg are obliquely present flavors, but not so much as to detract your attention from the meat.
Artisanal Dry-Cured Saucisson Sec, Duck
For brevity's sake: If you like duck at all, you'll probably love this stuff.
Because it's ground duck, you can slice this a little on the thicker side, but be prepared for a heavy, herbaceous, Chinese-five-spice set of flavors. Clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, garlic, and black pepper stand out, and there's a semi-sweet finish.
This is a leaner sausage, but the richness of dark duck meat more than makes up for the lack of fatty acids therein.
Artisanal Dry-Cured Saucisson Sec, Wild Boar
This is a gamier, funkier, dry sausage. It's something that you'll often get with wild boar and other game, and you either love it or hate it. There is a bit of an iron-y, gamey kind of finish reminiscent of offal. If you like organ meats, your palate should have no trouble at all accommodating this, and it's nowhere near as strong as liver, kidney, or tripe. Again, it's not for everyone, but if you're looking for something different — and especially if you're familiar with wild boar — it's a star.
Wagyu Beef Bresaola
There may well be nothing quite so decadent in D'Artagnan's product line (or on the earth's surface) as the Wagyu Beef Bresaola, a hand-crafted, air-dried Wagyu beef eye round. An Italian style charcuterie, you could think of it as a red-meat version of prosciutto, though it's much less briny, richer, and a touch fattier — maybe closer to an Iberian jamon, which is exactly how you'll want to treat this at the cutting board. In other words, you should not approach this 1.75-2.25-pound work of art with anything less than a deftly sharpened samurai sword. Thin, almost translucent slices are paramount to enjoying one of these, and if you come up short you might think you were chewing salted leather. Granted, the same goes for most if not all whole cuts of cured meat.
The portion, 1.75-2.25 pounds as mentioned above, is about 18 inches long and as round as a fist, meaning you'll serve one massive gathering for hors d'oeuvres, or you and your choicest loved ones for at least a few nights. Just make sure someone with some good knife skills makes it to the party.
In keeping with tradition, and out of respect for all things good and decent surrounding beef, you're not going to have any surprising, exciting, or interesting flavors or herbs stealing the show here. Think mostly muscly, dark meat (from the eye round) and a little celery salt, the way any good chef would treat a cut of steak.
Jambon de Bayonne
On the (relatively) lighter side, the paper-thin, pre-sliced Jambon de Bayonne is just salty enough to qualify as ham. Anything you'd do with prosciutto you could easily do with Jambon de Bayonne.
To earn the label Jambon de Bayonne, pigs need to be PGI-certified (Protected Geographical Location) to prove that they're raised in the Bayonne region of France, and the salt used for curing comes from Salies-de-Bearn.
D'Artagnan's Jambon de Bayonne is cured for at least 12 months "where the warm wind of the Pyrenees Mountains meets the humid air from the ocean." That may or may not mean anything to you, but if there were ever a ham for summer, it is Jambon de Bayonne. It's the perfect accompaniment to melon or other summer fruits.
If you're familiar with small game birds, you know fairly well what you're getting, but these quail come with the assurance of D'Artagnan quality. There won't be bits of plumage left to pluck out, and they're partially deboned so you have less work to do.
Raised in open barns and fed an all-grain diet, these are rich, dark-meat quail as they were intended to be eaten, and with v-shaped grill pins already in place, they're all set for stuffing and grilling or smoking.
If you want small game birds that don't require a lot of work, you'll have a hard time finding ones as well-prepared for you as D'Artagnan's — I myself haven't found anything close as of yet.
I brined mine in a few herbs and stuffed them with garlic and bay leaves before smoking them for about an hour. However you decide to cook them, just take note of how small they are, and, incidentally, how quickly they'll cook.
Muscovy Duck Breast
Like the quails, D'Artagnan's Muscovy ducks (large ducks native to Central and South America) are raised to full maturity in open barns.
The meat from these ducks is on the leaner side, and the skin is much thinner (and also much leaner) than what you'd find on, say, a Peking duck. Whatever you do with your Muscovy duck breasts, you can think of them as a healthier alternative to chicken and turkey.
I smoked mine and it came out a little on the dry side, which is grounds for any and all ridicule, but I've personally bought D'Artagnan Muscovy duck breasts every year or so (on special occasions), and as a lean, dark-fleshed fowl, it's about the best you'll find anywhere.
Boneless Wild Boar Shoulder
Usually, I'd recommend buying pork shoulders on the bone, especially if you're looking to end up with pulled pork. The flavor really comes out when you leave the bones in, and if you're slow-smoking, it helps keep the meat from drying out, too.
But this rolled and tied wild boar shoulder is something else, and you might consider braising it in the oven instead. Because I already had the duck breasts and the quails going on the smoker, I tossed the shoulder on, too.
Like the wild boar saucisson, it is a darker, redder, and richer meat than what you'd get from farm-raised pork. D'Artagnan's wild boar is wild-caught (trapped) in Texas, where the animals forage on grass, roots, nuts, fruits, acorns, and grains, according to the brand.
If you decide to smoke this cut, consider setting it on low smoke (maybe 160 degrees Fahrenheit) for eight to 12 hours, or even longer depending on how you like it and how your smoker works. If you'd rather eat it as a roast, you could slow-cook it at around 250 Fahrenheit until it reaches the desired internal temperature.
The bottom line
Are you going to find more affordable charcuterie? Yes, and that goes without saying. Are you going to find more affordable foie gras, caviar, and truffles? That's up for debate. But you are getting high-quality food that's fully organic, antibiotic- and hormone-free, and about as humanely raised and processed as anything on this fair planet. And where packaging is concerned, according to the brand, your order is supposed to arrive in (relatively) eco-friendly packaging, which is biodegradable corn-starch-based foam wrapped in plastic, but ours came in old-fashioned EPS styrofoam due to an increase in order volume and a shortage of the brand's regular packaging material — a concession we'll make considering the state of things.
If you've got the money, or you're looking to splurge for any and all reasons, we're convinced that there's no safer bet than D'Artagnan.
Pros: Top quality charcuterie and other artisanal delicacies delivered right to your door
Cons: On the pricey side, packaging could be more environmentally friendly with biodegradable foam
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