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List of Errors in Charcuterie by M. Ruhlman

Charcuterie Cookbook

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#1 Okanagancook

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 09:57 AM

Many who have used this book a lot note that there are many errors in it. We have used it for some sausages and the bacon only and we have found the following errors:

page 42, Fresh Bacon: 9th line down: "adding 1/4 cup/30 grams of dry cure" should read "adding 1/4 cup/50 grams of dry cure"

page 120, Breakfast Sausage with Fresh Ginger and Sage: fourth ingredient calls for 30 grams of fresh sage. Well, that's a whole lot of sage. I put in 16 grams and found it to be more than plenty.

What are the other errors that people have found? Help.

#2 JBailey

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 10:25 AM

"I'm shocked, shocked to find that..." My gosh, such an illustrious book by such a professional author to have errors? Didn't Ruhlman say recently

The text, and there is a lot of it, is proficient and as compelling as my high school science textbooks. But artful prose is not the point. While the quantity of aspirin required to read this straight through can be measured in thousands of milligrams, the goal was clarity and thoroughness, and the information is indeed clear, sound and, if anything, too thorough. Buried in the verbiage is a treasure of insights, some truly original, some familiar but described from new and compelling angles. Sometimes overly proud of itself, at other times it is recklessly (and admirably) opinionated.



No doubt he will be issuing errata on his site.
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#3 BadRabbit

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 10:44 AM

The recipe for Russian dressing contains no tomato or ketchup despite describing it as a mayonnaise and tomato-ey dressing.

#4 Guy MovingOn

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 10:45 AM

"I'm shocked, shocked to find that..." My gosh, such an illustrious book by such a professional author to have errors? Didn't Ruhlman say recently

The text, and there is a lot of it, is proficient and as compelling as my high school science textbooks. But artful prose is not the point. While the quantity of aspirin required to read this straight through can be measured in thousands of milligrams, the goal was clarity and thoroughness, and the information is indeed clear, sound and, if anything, too thorough. Buried in the verbiage is a treasure of insights, some truly original, some familiar but described from new and compelling angles. Sometimes overly proud of itself, at other times it is recklessly (and admirably) opinionated.



No doubt he will be issuing errata on his site.

I wish there was a "like" for this post as there is on Facebook...

#5 Jose Nieves

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 11:42 AM

I do feel bad for Polcyn for writing a book with Ruhlman.

Although, I should point out that while visiting some family in Ann Arbor, we drove to Five Lakes Grill and I spent a nice chunk of cash on some charcuterie (smoked pheasant sausage, bratwurst, etc) that could only be described as inedible since it had been "over-smoked" and the texture was completely wrong. I was told that they had been made by the sous since Mr. Polcyn was out of town..

#6 jmolinari

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 11:45 AM

How about the fact that the salt levels in Ruhlman's Charcuterie for Soppressata is downright dangerous? 1.7%? That is well below any and ALL accepted minimums of 2.5-3% for cured meats.

How about that his recipe for Coppa is just wrong. It's not a "variation" on coppa. It's wrong. Coppa is not chunks of shoulder. WRONG.

Or that he tells people to use 1/4 pack of starter culture for a 5 lb batch of salame, where it would be more than enough for 50 or 75 lbs of it?

#7 chriscook

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 12:41 PM

page 42, Fresh Bacon: 9th line down: "adding 1/4 cup/30 grams of dry cure" should read "adding 1/4 cup/50 grams of dry cure"

page 120, Breakfast Sausage with Fresh Ginger and Sage: fourth ingredient calls for 30 grams of fresh sage. Well, that's a whole lot of sage. I put in 16 grams and found it to be more than plenty.


I noticed the bacon error, mainly because the numbers differ from the maple sugar bacon.
I'm not sure the other is an error. I've made thr breakfast sausage with close to 30g of sage and really liked it.
Chris...

#8 BadRabbit

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 01:34 PM


page 42, Fresh Bacon: 9th line down: "adding 1/4 cup/30 grams of dry cure" should read "adding 1/4 cup/50 grams of dry cure"

page 120, Breakfast Sausage with Fresh Ginger and Sage: fourth ingredient calls for 30 grams of fresh sage. Well, that's a whole lot of sage. I put in 16 grams and found it to be more than plenty.


I'm not sure the other is an error. I've made thr breakfast sausage with close to 30g of sage and really liked it.
Chris...


Yeah, I thought the ginger still overpowered the sage even at 30g of sage. Overall I wasn't a big fan of the breakfast sausage. Not because I disliked it as much as I didn't think it tasted like breakfast sausage.

#9 FoodMan

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 02:06 PM

Why not try and stick with plainly incorrect recipes here, since I believe Ruhlman deserves a lot of credit for how many are into making their own sausage and curing their own meat (I know I am). Just browse through the tons of pages through the years that are dedicated to his book! Simply bitching about him seems just wrong IMO.

Anyways, the recipe for Bread and Butter pickles is clearly wrong. I forget why since I do not have the book with me, but if you read it you can tell. I think he does not use one or two things from the ingredient list. I emailed him about it a long time ago and he said it will be corrected in subsequent printings (were there any?? I hope so)

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#10 Okanagancook

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 02:16 PM

After adding 16 grams of sage to the sausages, I honestly thought, oh, 30 grams must be a typo since there are others.

#11 gfweb

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 03:14 PM

It wouldnt surprise me if some of these mistakes arent typos. Ruhlman seems to have a casual attitude toward what most think are established food safety principles. There have been a few things on his website that have bothered me in this regard.

His response to criticism of these lapses has essentially been " I have never had a problem so it must be safe" which is a pretty knuckleheaded and dangerous approach.

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#12 Moopheus

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 03:26 PM

The recipe for Russian dressing contains no tomato or ketchup despite describing it as a mayonnaise and tomato-ey dressing.


Well, "tomatoey" sounds like a word one might use to mean "contains no actual tomatoes".
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#13 Trev

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 03:43 PM

I do have an issue with the lemon confit recipe, as I've noted in another thread. The lemons do not simply cure. The liquid has to go somewhere and when I changed the salt in my cure I recovered (drained) a tremendous amount of liquid from the salt. There's no mention of changing the salt in the directions he gives and now that I've done that it's clearly a step that needs to be taken. I'm certain I'll need to do it again, too. He calls for only 1kg of salt for 12 lemons. I used 2 kg of salt and 8 lemons and it's still clearly out of whack. I feel that by the time I'm done and the lemons are tan in colour I'll have used upwards of 6kg of salt to achieve desirable a moisture level. On the positive side, they smell fantastic!
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#14 BadRabbit

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 06:11 PM

I don't think you should remove the salt from the lemons and since most preserved lemon recipes call for adding lemon juice, I don't think removing the liquid should be something you want to do either.

#15 Jose Nieves

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 07:26 PM

Why not try and stick with plainly incorrect recipes here, since I believe Ruhlman deserves a lot of credit for how many are into making their own sausage and curing their own meat (I know I am). Just browse through the tons of pages through the years that are dedicated to his book! Simply bitching about him seems just wrong IMO.


I agree with you that simple bitching, even when it's directed to someone who in my opinion deserves it, is not worth it. One honest question I have is whether you all think that this book is that well perceived in the field. I'm asking because I have a fairly decent selection of books in this particular area but never thought that Ruhlman's book as one to purchase.. partially because of my opinion of the guy.

#16 Trev

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 07:27 PM

I don't think you should remove the salt from the lemons and since most preserved lemon recipes call for adding lemon juice, I don't think removing the liquid should be something you want to do either.

Are cured lemons supposed to be wet or dry? I'm not making lemon juice, I'm trying to cure the rinds.
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#17 Chris Hennes

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 07:28 PM

Ruhlman and Polcyn's Charcuterie quite literally changed the course of my life: it's not that it's a great set of recipes, or at all flawless, but it's such a friendly introduction to what can be quite a daunting topic, I think it has dramatically influenced a lot of beginning charcuteriers.

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#18 Marlene

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 07:29 PM

I"m just going to say that this is not necessarily Michael's fault, although some may be. In his latest book, which is due out in the fall, which I can't talk about yet :laugh: all I can say is, three times we got galleys. In each galley we'd make corrections, only to receive the next galley with the corrections not made. it's rather frustrating. And this is Bryan's book as much as Michael's. The title of this thread is misleading If you're going to take aim at one, take aim at both. Both would have received galleys and submitted corrections. And their second book together, on the same subject, is due out either this summer or fall.

Edited by Marlene, 11 May 2011 - 07:37 PM.

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#19 avaserfi

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 07:36 PM

Ruhlman and Polcyn's Charcuterie quite literally changed the course of my life: it's not that it's a great set of recipes, or at all flawless, but it's such a friendly introduction to what can be quite a daunting topic, I think it has dramatically influenced a lot of beginning charcuteriers.


Exactly the same for me.
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#20 Chris Hennes

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 07:41 PM


I don't think you should remove the salt from the lemons and since most preserved lemon recipes call for adding lemon juice, I don't think removing the liquid should be something you want to do either.

Are cured lemons supposed to be wet or dry? I'm not making lemon juice, I'm trying to cure the rinds.

Maybe we're talking about completely different products, then. The preserved lemons I make are whole lemons, stored in a very salty liquid brine. I don't recall what the recipe in the book is for: is it not that kind of preserved lemon?

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#21 Trev

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 09:03 PM

I guess that's what I'm unsure of, Chris. If I knew what kind of texture I was going for, or moisture content, then I'd be more confident about what to do next, if anything. In the final notes he says that he scoops out and discards the pith and uses the rind, and that it's tan in colour. What I see is the dryer lemons are tan while the wetter ones are still bright yellow. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to say the recipe is wrong, I'm only saying for someone like me who's not a chef it's kind of hard to follow. It's only lemons, though, so if I had to do it over I wouldn't lose any sleep. It's not like I messed up a shoulder of Berkshire or something.
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#22 lancastermike

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 04:23 AM

Like Chris H. This book was my start in this area . Though I never tried the dry cured items I found the book to be easy to read and inviting to the beginner. Nothing wrong with listing mistakes. It would be the rare cookbook of any type that does not have some.
Not sure where all the hatred for Ruhlman is coming from. To a professional in this field perhaps the book does not meet their standards. I don' think it was written for the professional.
Again I don't get the hate, but if it makes you feel better and superior feel free to continue.

#23 jmolinari

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 05:30 AM

lancastermike, i believe the "hate" or "dislike" for Ruhlman is coming from the fact that he, to me at least, come across as pompous and self righteous. The information in the book is good, but the fact that some of it is so flawed as to be dangerous makes me question his understanding of the subject. He presents himself as an expert in it, but clearly, based on his writing in the book and the blog, his understanding is at best superficial.

#24 abadoozy

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 05:30 AM

This isn't really an error, but it's something I got wrong and I think a lot of people could make the same mistake.

In the Goose Confit recipe, it says to take a whole 10-lb goose, cut it into 4 pieces, and confit it. The salt ratio is for 10 lbs of meat.

The way I interpreted the recipe was to cut the goose into 4 pieces - 2 breasts and 2 leg/thigh quarters, and use the back and various trimmings for stock. Nope. My confit was ruined, because the it was WAY too salty. After comparing the salt the recipe called for with other confit recipes in the book, I saw that it was appropriate for 10 pounds, but not for the reduced weight I ended up with after trimming the bird.

And indeed, the recipe doesn't call for doing anything but cutting the bird into 4 pieces. I honestly don't know why I'd confit the back and all the other bits of the carcass, but there you go. Truly user error, but I doubt I'm the only one who might not read the recipe carefully and make the same mistake.

That said, I agree with Chris Hennes and others - Charcuterie is an amazing book, and it's taught me a whole lot about how to handle meat. Sure, it's got some mistakes, but I don't see it as any more error-prone than is typical with a book of this type.

#25 BadRabbit

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 06:06 AM


I don't think you should remove the salt from the lemons and since most preserved lemon recipes call for adding lemon juice, I don't think removing the liquid should be something you want to do either.

Are cured lemons supposed to be wet or dry? I'm not making lemon juice, I'm trying to cure the rinds.



They are supposed to be wet during the curing process. Once they are fully cured, you can remove everything but the rinds (I leave a little flesh on mine).

Here's a recipe from Paula Wolfert:

http://www.epicuriou...d-Lemons-231570

As you can see, the lemon juice is important enough that she suggests adding some if the lemons are not covered.

#26 Trev

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 06:17 AM



I don't think you should remove the salt from the lemons and since most preserved lemon recipes call for adding lemon juice, I don't think removing the liquid should be something you want to do either.

Are cured lemons supposed to be wet or dry? I'm not making lemon juice, I'm trying to cure the rinds.



They are supposed to be wet during the curing process. Once they are fully cured, you can remove everything but the rinds (I leave a little flesh on mine).

Here's a recipe from Paula Wolfert:

http://www.epicuriou...d-Lemons-231570

As you can see, the lemon juice is important enough that she suggests adding some if the lemons are not covered.

Thanks for that, BR, much appreciated. It's getting clearer now, especially with Wolfert's instruction.
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#27 dls

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 08:49 AM

I was an early buyer of Charcuterie, and have enjoyed it immensely. It's probably the only cook book that I have actually read cover to cover. A wealth of knowledge and insight, especially for those with little or limited knowledge about the subject. As others, I have found several flaws, the most significant of which is the recommended of curing salts. In the not to distant past I sent inquiry to Michael regarding the subject, and he did respond.

My inquiry to Michael follows:

"The corned beef recipe in Charcuterie was the one of first ones I tried when I purchased the book a few years ago. I've since repeated the process many times, occasionally with a few tweaks of my own, but with one exception, nothing major. I've corned the beef to cook and serve on its own, or as a step en route to pastrami. The final results have been nothing less than excellent.

That said, I do have one issue with the recipe - The amount of pink salt called for. I buy most of my curing supplies from Butcher Packer which, if I recall correctly, is recommended as a source in the book. Their web site and the packaging clearly state that 4 ounces of the pink salt will cure 100 pounds of meat. The recipe calls for 1 ounce (5 teaspoons), or enough to cure 25 pounds of meat. My adjustment for a 5 pound brisket is to use 1 teaspoon, and have never had a problem with the finished product."

Michaels response follows:

"We're reevaluating pink salt levels for the new book so can't answer specifically. That's Brian's recipe. The Govt recommended level of nitrite in a product is 200 parts per million, so if you're good at math, figure out 200 ppm for the weight of the brine and meat combined. Don't forget also that it's simmered, which leaches out salt. Also, nitrite converts to nitrous oxide so I'm not sure how much nitrite you're getting in final product. Trying to research this now!"

While it was kind of him to respond, I know no more than I did before the inquiry. I guess we'll have to wait for the new book to see if there are any revisions or corrections. In the meantime, I'll stick with my ratio.

#28 gfweb

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Posted 13 May 2011 - 07:55 PM

Kind of him to answer but as you said it wasn't much help. I'm troubled that he hadn't checked to see the recipe in his book met the safety guidelines and doesn't seem all that it might not.

Most details in recipes aren't that important in a life or death way and an error has no real consequences. An author ought to know which ones do.

#29 jmolinari

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Posted 13 May 2011 - 07:59 PM

Like I said, his seemingly lackadaisical attitude towards really critical, potentially harmful recipe deviations or errors demonstrates that he either doesn't know, and therefore shouldn't be considered the expert he purports to be, or just doesn't care...which is possibly worse.

#30 gfweb

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Posted 14 May 2011 - 07:47 AM

Like I said, his seemingly lackadaisical attitude towards really critical, potentially harmful recipe deviations or errors demonstrates that he either doesn't know, and therefore shouldn't be considered the expert he purports to be, or just doesn't care...which is possibly worse.


My sense is that he is partially trained and thinks that he knows more than he does. When one goes around speaking at South Beach, having adoring fans of one's website, and hob-nobbing with hotshot chefs, one might begin to think that their words have some authority. As Rumsfeld said, you have to know what you don't know (paraphrase).





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