Pennsylvania Has an Amazing New Charcuterie Trail: Here's Where to Go
In Paxinos—located in central Pennsylvania—stop into Masser's Farm Market for soupie, the local nickname for the Italian dry sausage soppressata, and head to Kowalonek's Kielbasy in nearby Shenandoah for a taste of the polish sausage. In Marianna, Heritage Craft Butchers serves their house-made liver sausage called braunschweiger on a 150-year-old charcuterie table, and in Philadelphia, shoppers can visit the 82-year-old DiBruno Bros. to taste prosciutto, salami, and Italian pepperoni. They're all stops on Chopped, a Charcuterie Trail, part of a series of Pennsylvania's four recently-launched culinary trails.
"When many people think of the word charcuterie, they're usually thinking fancy meats," says Mary Miller, a cultural historian and professor who spent two years researching and developing the new trails. And while some stops do feature luxe charcuterie, the trail also includes cured meats that are more rustic—like Kielbasa shops started decades ago by Polish immigrants and Lebanon Bologna care of Pennsylvania Germans. The aim is to highlight and honor the state's past, and to make sure these food traditions continue.
Other new culinary trails include Baked: a Bread Trail, Picked: an Apple Trail, and Pickled: a Fermented Trail. They're meant to entice visitors to explore the history and culture of the foodways as much as to sample the best of the state's sourdough bread, apple cider, root beer, and more regional delicacies.
In 2019, Pennsylvania launched an ice cream trail with stops at dozens of family-run dairy farms and small-batch makers. They gave out passports, which could be stamped at each and mailed in for prizes. Within the first year, visitors from 30 states turned in a passport, signaling the trail was a smashing success. The same formula could be used to highlight more of Pennsylvania's food history, and Miller, a professor at Pittsburgh's Chatham University's Center for Regional Agriculture, Food, and Transformation (CRAFT), worked in collaboration with PA's Department of Community and Economic Development to bring the trails to fruition.
"It was something that we knew setting out a long time ago that this wasn't just a food trail, this was truly our culinary heritage," says Carrie Fischer Lepore, Pennsylvania's Deputy Secretary of Marketing, Tourism, & Film. "We are trying to give people a greater sense of who and what Pennsylvania is through our foods."
The Chopped Trail is actually broken into five different trails, each highlighting a different region of the state to account for Pennsylvania's sprawling size. Pack a cooler and read on for a sampling of stops from the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Dutch, and Lehigh Valley region, which promises to be a "non-stop, meat-inspired thrill ride."
Stop 1: Central Market, Lancaster
Kick off the trail in Lancaster, about 80 miles west of Center City, Philadelphia, at Central Market. The country's oldest continually-operating public market houses roughly 70 stands, filled with everything from Uruguayan empanadas to Lancaster-style soft pretzels and Pennsylvania Dutch donuts. The market is also home to a cluster of meat purveyors, carrying on the tradition of the region's farmers preserving meat to eat long after the fall slaughtering season ends. Stop by S.Clyde Weaver, open since 1920, for housemade ring bologna, venison and elk snack sticks, and beef jerky.
Nearby stand Rooster Street Butcher works with local farmers, making house-cured meats like duck prosciutto and Smoke N Whiskey dried sausage made with bourbon from pasture-raised animals. At the Turkey Lady, find 21 varieties of turkey sausage, jerky, and more.
Stop 2: Charles Ilyes Roadside Stand
About 30 miles southeast, the Charles Ilyes roadside stand sells fruit and vegetables grown on the nearby farm, as well as fresh and smoked meats. Along with sweet bologna and half a dozen varieties of meat snack sticks (think honey jalapeño, teriyaki, and pepper) don't miss the scrapple, the Pennsylvania Dutch delicacy made with pork scraps, trimmings, and cornmeal. (Note: the stand is open from May until the fall, but in the off-season you can visit their stall at the Penn Farmers' Market, 12 miles north in York.)
Stop 3: Smoke and Pickles
Stop for proper lunch in downtown Mechanicsburg at Smoke and Pickles, an artisan butcher shop less than 30 miles northwest of the roadside stand. Owner and chef David T. Mills specializes in whole animal butchery, and the menu at the butcher shop-slash-restaurant features housemade hot dogs, all-beef burgers, and a charcuterie board splashed with cured meats, artisan cheeses, and pickles, called the Charc Attack.
Stop 4: Black Swan Antiques
From Smoke and Pickles, start making your way back east, about 25 miles, to Black Swan Antiques in Palmyra. Inside the co-op of about 60 antique vendors, you can find an outpost of Seltzer's smokehouse meats. The nearly 120-year-old company specializes in Lebanon bologna, a slightly-sweet regional delicacy made with beef and spices.
Stop 5: DiBruno Bros.
Back in Philadelphia, head for DiBruno Bros. in its original Italian Market location. The specialty cheese shop has been slicing off samples of Parmigiano and provolone for shoppers for more than 80 years, but also sells a wide assortment of cured meats. Pick up some souvenirs in the form of Abruzze sausage, Sicilian pepperoni, and finocchiona, a classic Tuscan salami spiced with fennel.
Stop 6: Royal Boucherie
Finish the day with a celebratory, meat-infused meal at Royal Boucherie in Old City. The warm American brasserie helmed by executive chef Matt Buehler is known for its charcuterie boards—an artfully arranged sampling of house-cured meats like chistorra (similar to Spanish chorizo) and thinly-sliced coppa, along with pickles and mustards.
"What makes our coppas so great is that they are hand picked by the butchers at Primal Supply Meats, so we get the best marbling and fat content," Buehler says. Round out the meal with oysters from the raw bar, roast chicken, and a specialty cocktail like the A La Philly, made with Northbound rye from local Boardroom Spirits.