The Smoke Hunter

Seeking out smoked meats for Fumare

Dick McCracken is a curator of the meatiest persuasion.

The former banker scours the city and suburbs, often with a human translator in tow, looking for locally smoked goods for his French Market stall, Fumare Meats. Prosciutto is the only import you'll find in Fumare's case; all else is sourced from Chicagoland's German, Hungarian, Polish and even Croatian producers.

He swears Ream's Elburn Market bacon has the perfect fat-to-meat ratio, so he brings in four kinds. Try the hickory-smoked, cinnamon-dusted variety–"It smells like breakfast when you fry it," says McCracken–and keep a hunk of the cured, unsmoked pork belly in the fridge to use like pancetta.

Fresh Polish blood sausage–which a British customer declared the best black pudding she's had–is available each Friday and Saturday ($6 per pound).

Bone-in smoked pork belly ($6 per pound) from the Polish smoker Alex's Delicatessen is made for braising; it adds a smoky heft to stews, and is delicious on its own when softened by a few hours of cooking.

After loading up on smoked meats, stop by the Pastoral stand next door for some Wisconsin Ader Käse blue cheese, a charming partner for Fumare's speck-like Hungarian pork loin.

Fumare at the Chicago French Market, 131 N. Clinton St.; 312-930-4220 or frenchmarketchicago.com