We’re all familiar with French charcuterie. Whether it’s a torchon of foie gras or just a rustic country pâté, every French bistro in the city offers some sort of homemade cold-cured meat. We’re getting pretty good with the Iberian versions, too — even your most amateur eater these days can tell a chorizo from a linguiça. Heck, even the Scandinavians have a recognizable tradition (lox, anyone?). But here’s an item you rarely see: Irish charcuterie. The Irish are in on this, too? Yup. And it’s delicious.
Brookline might seem an unlikely location for the most authentic Irish food in the city, but the first thing you’ll notice on the menu at Matt Murphy’s is that there are no Celtic quesadillas, Emerald Isle pizza shooters, or any of the like that grace the menus of most other Irish pubs. In their place are items such as rabbit pie ($19), braised oxtail ($8), and lamb-sirloin sandwiches ($9). Equally impressive is the charcuterie Farmhouse Plate, which starts with an apple and orange-peel-studded rustic liver pâté. No dainty slices here: the pâté is spooned onto the plate, ready to be spread thinly onto crusty bread. There’s always more room in my diet for salt and pork, and the quarter-inch-thick slices of Irish bacon deliver both in a particularly luxurious and tasty manner. As an adolescent, I fell in love with corned beef, but since then, our relationship has become all familiarity and no romance. All it took was for Matt Murphy’s to add a few warm spices, and to serve it thick-sliced and cold with spicy mustard, and it was like the beef and I were on our second honeymoon. But like an edible Mr. Potato Head, the meats are only a base for which to play with a host of condiments. In the bucket of parts: a chunky apple chutney, neon-yellow pickled cabbage, thinly sliced fennel in a sour-cream sauce, toasted walnuts, cornichons, and slices of spiced roasted pear. Favorite combo of the night: pâté, whole-grain mustard, and pear on raisin-nut bread, eaten in two bites, with a cornichon chaser. It packs a punch that makes foie gras seem positively lily-livered.
Available for $10 at Matt Murphy’s, 14 Harvard Street, in Brookline. Call 617.232.0188.
: Hot Plate
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