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Cooking with Ruhlman & Polcyn's "Charcuterie" (Part 1)

Charcuterie Cookbook

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#1 eG Forums Host

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 08:08 PM

As all readers of the massive Charcuterie topic topic know, it has become unwieldy. Thus we offer this new index, to aid readers in finding all of the information our members have contributed over the years. We've also started this topic, for new discussions of the recipes in Polcyn's and Ruhlman's book.

We ask that as discussion continues on this new topic, posters keep their posts focused on recipes and techniques from the book itself, and small modifications to those recipes. For general charcuterie discussion, that are not focused on recipes from this book, you will find many other topics devoted to them.

Thank you for participating! We look forward to more great contributions in this topic!

#2 Prawncrackers

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 10:09 AM

I was a bit intimidated by the 90+ pages of that old thread and never got round to reading any of it.... but i bought the book anyway!! What spurred me on was that my buddy and i bought half a Tamworth pig a couple of months ago and butchering it ourselves we found that we had so many off-cuts. We vowed next time that we'd make our own sausages, i suppose that why they were invented in the first place. So last weekend we got half a Gloucester Old Spot and here was the result:

Half a pig!
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Spanish Chorizo, Tuscan Salami & English Bangers (not from the book)
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A close-up of the chorizo - beautifully ruby red:
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Here is the chorizo & salami after 4 days hanging in my garage. Fingers and toes crossed that all will turn out ok in a few weeks!
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I'm also curing some pancetta and lardo, and brining half a ham. I love pork is all it's forms, and butchering my own meat means that getting this book was really a no-brainer for me.

#3 Magictofu

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 10:38 AM

I have had this book on my shelf for a long time but never took the time to actually try any recipe... I didn't care that much since reading is a pleasure of its own.

I have decided to start slowly. Two weeks ago I made gravlax combining elements from the book and from my own previous experiments. My partner had the last bit for lunch today. It was delicious but perhaps a bit too much on the salty side.

I now have belly curing in the fridge and an order for a meat grinder with sausage stuffing attachment has been placed. I plan to buy a whole pig this fall and to build myself a cold room this summer.

Getting pink salt in Canada is not an easy thing though!

#4 mkayahara

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 12:24 PM

Getting pink salt in Canada is not an easy thing though!

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Did you try ordering it from Stuffers? Just give them a call and tell them what you want, and they'll hook you up. It took about a week for mine to arrive.
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#5 Magictofu

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 08:31 PM

Getting pink salt in Canada is not an easy thing though!

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Did you try ordering it from Stuffers? Just give them a call and tell them what you want, and they'll hook you up. It took about a week for mine to arrive.

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Its funny I actually bought my casings from them but since they did not mention pink salt on thei website I did even thought about asking. Thanks for the information!

#6 mkayahara

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 05:21 AM

Getting pink salt in Canada is not an easy thing though!

View Post

Did you try ordering it from Stuffers? Just give them a call and tell them what you want, and they'll hook you up. It took about a week for mine to arrive.

View Post


Its funny I actually bought my casings from them but since they did not mention pink salt on thei website I did even thought about asking. Thanks for the information!

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You're welcome! It's actually buried pretty deep in the website, and they call it "Prague powder" instead of "pink salt." (And it's not actually dyed pink, either.) They sell both nitrite and nitrate, as Prague powder #1 and Prague powder #2, respectively.
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#7 Bailey

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 09:37 AM

That parted out pig looks strangely content. I hope those big ears got used for something good!

#8 Prawncrackers

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Posted 11 July 2008 - 03:24 AM

That parted out pig looks strangely content. I hope those big ears got used for something good!

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Don't worry I have the ears in my freezer. I got my buddy to singe the hair off and scrape the wax out, first and last time he does that job (mwahahahhaha)!!! I took the cheeks home too but the rest we binned, i don't think we'll take the head next time - for us a lot of useless weight onto the price. Now what to do with the ears, WWRPD? What Would Ruhlman & Polcyn Do?

#9 Adrian M

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Posted 12 July 2008 - 02:49 PM

Getting pink salt in Canada is not an easy thing though!


I ordered some online from Butcher-Packer. Although, yeah I felt silly paying ~$10 S&H for something that was what? less than $5 I think? The package has lasted me long enough that I don't mind.

#10 Prawncrackers

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Posted 17 July 2008 - 12:41 PM

Success!!!

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The chorizo and salami have turned out wonderfully. It took only 13 days of hanging to get to this point. I've tried a few slices of each and i'm particularly blown away by the taste of the chorizo. The salami has a very strong flavour of fennel and wine, more of an acquired taste i think :hmmm:

Okay let's just hope now i haven't poisoned myself!

#11 MikeHartnett

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Posted 21 July 2008 - 07:57 AM

Quick question:

I'm brining brisket for pastrami right now, and I've got two separate hunks- one about 2.5 lbs. and one 1.5. Since they are smaller than the recommended weight from Charcuterie, and in two pieces, how will this affect my brine time?

Thanks!

#12 Dave the Cook

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Posted 21 July 2008 - 08:03 AM

Brining is about shape and thickness, not weight. So if your hunks are cut from the whole brisket, and the same thickness as the whole, brining time is not affected.

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#13 dougal

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 05:46 AM

I'm brining brisket for pastrami right now, and I've got two separate hunks- one about 2.5 lbs. and one 1.5.  Since they are smaller than the recommended weight from Charcuterie, and in two pieces, how will this affect my brine time?

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As Dave indicates, time mostly has to with cure penetration depth.
Thinner pieces need less time because the cure has less far to go.

Where the total meat weight would matter is in the proportions of meat to brine, which can impact things. For long curing ("curing to equilibrium" - my preference - the FDA expect the curing salts to be taken up in proportion to the weight of meat versus the weight of meat+brine).
But for short cures, (as per those in the book), the FDA go by the weight increase in the meat from soaking up brine. Now, with smaller bits of meat, thus a larger surface in proportion to volume/weight, I'd expect the weight pickup to be a little faster - indicating another reason for a slightly shorter curing time.

But the book's recipe is only for a short 3-day cure anyway.
And expects a single 5lb piece.

Either way, I doubt you'd harm yourself, but I'd think of shortening your times a little - particularly for the little 1.5lb piece. I'd add that to the cure slightly after the bigger bit, so that they finished together. How much might you shorten the time(s)? I'd suggest that that would depend on how you compared your pieces' maximum thickness to what you might expect from the recipe's single 5 lb piece.

My guess is that adjusting the smoking and poaching times might be more important to the eventual result than the curing time - I'd be more worried about over-cooking than over curing! (Again its the thickness that's important...)
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#14 MikeHartnett

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 07:10 AM

Thanks, dougal. Really, I was just curious because I'm impatient and I'd really like some pastrami. Like now. I might take the small piece out tonight (after 2 full days) and smoke it, and then do the larger one tomorrow, which would be the recommended time.

#15 MikeHartnett

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Posted 25 July 2008 - 07:33 AM

So I made the pastrami(s). The little one, which I pulled out of the brine first, was good, but not spectacular. The second, which I pulled from the brine after 3 days, and was able to smoke a bit longer, was better, delicious even, but I want more flavor. I'm not sure how I'm going to achieve that. Probably better meat, for a start.

#16 Chris Hennes

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Posted 25 July 2008 - 07:36 AM

So I made the pastrami(s).  The little one, which I pulled out of the brine first, was good, but not spectacular.  The second, which I pulled from the brine after 3 days, and was able to smoke a bit longer, was better, delicious even, but I want more flavor.  I'm not sure how I'm going to achieve that.  Probably better meat, for a start.

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How long did you smoke it for? Or is it not the "smokey" flavor that is lacking, but the "briney" flavor you want more of?

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#17 FoodMan

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Posted 25 July 2008 - 07:41 AM

I just saw this new thread and I have tio say...WOW. Great job on that index, it is truly amazing!

Prawncrackers, I am very jealous. That stuff all looks beyond perfect, pig perfect ;-).

Chris-
I am planning on making a beef based sausage in a couple of weeks (one of 4 different varieties and a total of 40 lbs of sausage). It's based on Armenian sausage you'd find in Lebanon, lots of paprika, cumin and garlic. Let me know if you are interested and I can share the recipe I came up with (but NOT tested yet).

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contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com


#18 MikeHartnett

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Posted 25 July 2008 - 07:44 AM

So I made the pastrami(s).  The little one, which I pulled out of the brine first, was good, but not spectacular.  The second, which I pulled from the brine after 3 days, and was able to smoke a bit longer, was better, delicious even, but I want more flavor.  I'm not sure how I'm going to achieve that.  Probably better meat, for a start.

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How long did you smoke it for? Or is it not the "smokey" flavor that is lacking, but the "briney" flavor you want more of?

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I think the smokiness is fine for me. It's more the briney flavor I think, or it might just be that the meat is lacking a whole lot of flavor in the first place. It wasn't great quality, and to be honest, I bought it because I needed to make something tasty that would get me through a week or two of lunches without spending a ton of money. So I believe quality was a major factor.

#19 Magictofu

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Posted 25 July 2008 - 08:06 AM

I made the hot italian sausage from the book a few days ago but did not include enough fat in the mix (unavailable at the moment). They were a bit on the dry and crumbly side. The flavour was still good though.

My bacon turned out quite good but I think it might be a bit too sweet as it burns very easily in the pan, even at low temp. I followed the recipe (simple bacon) religiously that time and wonder if this normal.

#20 Chris Amirault

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Posted 25 July 2008 - 08:12 AM

I have been adjusting most of the recipes in this book by bumping up the fat and spice content to better effect.
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#21 MikeHartnett

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Posted 25 July 2008 - 09:32 AM

I made the hot italian sausage from the book a few days ago but did not include enough fat in the mix (unavailable at the moment). They were a bit on the dry and crumbly side. The flavour was still good though.

My bacon turned out quite good but I think it might be a bit too sweet as it burns very easily in the pan, even at low temp. I followed the recipe (simple bacon) religiously that time and wonder if this normal.

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I've seen someone else make this complaint about their bacon. My bacon has turned out quite well, and doesn't burn unless I forget I'm cooking it. I wonder why this is. I'll note that I put significantly less syrup in than the recipe calls for, but other than that, followed the recipe to a t.

#22 Chris Amirault

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Posted 25 July 2008 - 12:09 PM

I think that's it exactly: more sugar. I've dialed back the sugar on my bacon and cook it at lower temps when I use the Polcyn & Ruhlman recipes for this reason.
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#23 MikeHartnett

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Posted 25 July 2008 - 12:36 PM

I guess I sort of luckily stumbled upon it, then. Mine was more because I didn't want to overdo it with the syrup, and I thought I'd much rather have too little than too much. Hmmm...

#24 TheSwede

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Posted 25 July 2008 - 12:38 PM

Success!!! 

Posted Image
Posted Image

The chorizo and salami have turned out wonderfully.  It took only 13 days of hanging to get to this point.  I've tried a few slices of each and i'm particularly blown away by the taste of the chorizo.  The salami has a very strong flavour of fennel and wine, more of an acquired taste i think  :hmmm:

Okay let's just hope now i haven't poisoned myself!

View Post


That is so beautiful! What is that rolled thing lurking in the background? Pancetta?

Give us more details. How did you do the drying/fermentation? Are the receipes straight from the book?
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#25 ATram

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Posted 26 July 2008 - 10:54 PM

Hi, in my recent visit to the usa i bought this excellent book. I couldn't find it anywhere in my country so i had to wait a little...
Anyway, my main problem is that i can't find curing salts here! i dont know why because we have a lot of commercial chorizos and all kind of charcuterie, but no one wants to sell me curing salts!
So i was thinking, anyone knows the exact compositions of Insta Cure #1 and #2?
I have a friend who is chemistry and could get me food-grade sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate, but i don't want to poison myself or other people, so i would like to know the exact proportions.

Thanks!

#26 TheSwede

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Posted 27 July 2008 - 06:34 AM

The composition of pink salt (#1) is in the book.

Here in Europe we often use saltpeter instead of #2. That I can buy in some larger supermarkets here.

Perhaps it is the same in South America?

#27 RobertCollins

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Posted 27 July 2008 - 08:52 PM

Pink salt, #1 is by memory, 6.0% Sodium nitrite and the rest NaCL, [that is 1 oz. sodium nitrite to 1 pound NaCl per the CIA Garde Marche book] but do check your book.

Salt petre is Potassium nitrate and as said, used in Europe. In the US we have Sodium Nitrate. I don't remember which but have read that They taste different. I believe the difference to be minor as I love to eat all the sausages I've ever found in Europe and the Americas. I can't say which is better.

According to Great Sausage Recipes And Meat Curing, 3rd ed. by Rytek Kutas, Insta Cure #2 is 1 oz of sodium nitrite plus 64/100 oz of sodium nitrate plus a pound of salt. This book is published by Sausage Maker Inc. www.sausagemaker.com I think Kutsas founded the company.

I hope this helps but urge anybody to do their own look-ups.

EDIT: oz is ounce or 1/16 pound - I won't try to remember how many grams to the ounce

Robert

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#28 Jon Savage

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Posted 27 July 2008 - 09:41 PM

EDIT: oz is ounce or 1/16 pound - I won't try to remember how many grams to the ounce

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28.3 grams ish to an ounce FWIW.

Jon

 

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#29 MikeHartnett

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Posted 28 July 2008 - 12:05 PM

Up until now, I've been using some pretty low-quality belly meat from an Asian market near me. Now that I'm more confident with my bacon making ability (and after purchasing a poorer-than-normal belly), I'd like to try out some higher quality meat. I've looked at Niman Ranch, and while I'd really like to, I don't think I can justify paying as much in shipping as the belly costs. $75 bacon seems just a bit extravagant.

Does anyone have any suggestions as to good-quality meat that isn't going to cost me an arm and a leg?

#30 Dave the Cook

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Posted 28 July 2008 - 12:33 PM

A few people have had luck ordering Niman Ranch through Whole Foods. It seems that the likelihood of success depends on how cooperative the meat manager is, and whether or not you'll buy the whole case, or they think they can sell it.

Other possibilities: 1) make friends with the meat dude at your grocery store, then ask them to order for you; 2) call up Cochon and see if they'll sell you one; 2) find a better Asian market. I've been getting whole bellies from Super H Mart, and the quality is quite good.

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