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Cooking & Curing from "Charcuterie": Part 2

Charcuterie Cookbook

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#361 Doc-G

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Posted 10 May 2006 - 06:18 AM

Those jowls do look a little 'funky'. I dont know whether the stuff leached is from a gland because the gland should be inactive as the animal is dead. Dont quote me on this however.

However something else unwanted might produce those liquids (ie when meat starts to turn, it becomes slimy as a result of the bacterial build up). Smelling it should give you the answer.

When I did my smallgoods making course, we were told ALWAYS to look for small glands whilst trimming our pork. In the first piece I was given, I cut out 3 of the little suckers. They are about the size of your little fingernail and not quite meat coloured and obviously not white like fat. They were kind of 'pinkish-purple'.

Best of luck with your products. It will be interesting to hear what happens!

Cheers,

Doc-G

#362 Bombdog

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Posted 10 May 2006 - 07:16 AM

Well, onto the next project. I was wanting to do another salame, but something larger. I sort of (until I tackled it) liked the idea of larger grind, actually diced. Using the sopressata recipe in the book I started with 8 lbs of fatty butt and 2 lbs of fat back.

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You can probably imagine what a job it was to dice this.

Well, then imagine what it was like to stuff this by hand.

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This is what 10 lbs of sopressata looks like after inoculating the bactoferm. Into the curing chamber this morning. I'll post back in a few weeks with results.
Dave Valentin
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#363 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 10 May 2006 - 07:24 AM

Well, the jowls have absolutely no "off" smell whatsoever, which makes this a very strange situation. In fact, they have almost no smell at all.

A reader who frequents this thread sent me the following information, which she found at the University of Virginia's web site. It very well might apply in my situation but given that the jowls were sourced from Niman, I'd hate to think so:

Pale, soft and exudative pork (PSE) - Pork that is very light colored and lacks firmness is less desirable for curing. Pale and soft pork experiences more loss of moisture through weeping. This condition, which is responsible for poor cured color development, yields pale colored pork that sometimes has a gray or green tinge after being cured. The soft appearance gives a lower quality appearance and the exudative condition is responsible for more weight loss during curing and makes the pork more difficult to handle due to the moist condition. A soft muscle structure causes more muscle separation and uneven cure penetration. Greater muscle separation may permit more microbial contamination and insect invasion during storage.

The PSE condition can be corrected by slaughtering swine that are rugged, thrifty and with enough finish to have 0.7 inch or more of backfat thickness over the back . . . The PSE condition can be minimized by proper temperature control from slaughter to curing.

At this point, I plan to stay the course. I'll continue to cure them, then I'll dry them and smoke them over the weekend. If nothing else, it'll be an interesting experiment but I have to say that I'll be somewhat nervous about actually tasting them. And I'm disappointed. I've cured and smoked over 10 slabs of bacon since I started down this crazy road and this is the first time I've had any mysterious problems pop up while doing so. I'll continue to update as I go and please, feel free to share any theories about what might be going on here.

Thanks,

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#364 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 10 May 2006 - 07:25 AM

Dave, the sopressata looks great. I'm sure it was a ton of taxing work. Hopefully, it'll pay off big-time. Can't wait for the updates.

=R=
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#365 Abra

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Posted 10 May 2006 - 11:14 AM

Wow Dave, what do you mean by "hand stuffing?" As in, you pushed the stuffing in with your fingers, or a chopstick?

Ron, I don't think you have to be too nervous about tasting your jowls. I'm pretty sure that bad meat always smells terrible, so you'd know right away. If I'm wrong, though, somebody please save Ron's life by speaking up! I wonder how old that PSE info is. I wonder because it describes a pig as "thrifty," not a word we'd normally associate with swine in this day and age.

It greatly improves my vocabulary, however, to be able to denounce someone as pale, soft, and exudative, and unthrifty into the bargain!

I wonder whether I'll still be able to see any glands after my guanciale finishes curing, which should be later this week. If so, I'll remove them, but I'm imagining that they've all shrunk up by now. Will they taste vile?

#366 Bombdog

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Posted 10 May 2006 - 12:35 PM

Abra, I used a piece of pvc pipe just a bit smaller diameter than the casings and about 12 inches long. I would fill the pipe and then push it down with my KA wooden plunger, then start all over again. When I got approximately the size I wanted I would then squeeze the filling to tighten the casing, twist and start all over again. What a pain in the butt! Hopefully it pays off in a few weeks.

Here are some pictures of my jowls that I took out of the cure today.

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The green here is from the fresh herbs in the cure.

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Here they are, rinsed and ready to be tied up for hanging in the curing chamber.

Abra, how long have you let yours cure? Are you going by weight loss or time?
Dave Valentin
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"So, what if we've got it all backwards?" asks my son.
"Got what backwards?" I ask.
"What if chicken tastes like rattlesnake?" My son, the Einstein of the family.


#367 snowangel

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Posted 10 May 2006 - 12:43 PM

Dave, that stuffing sounded like a lot of work! How long did it take?

I was thinking about something someone mentioned way up topic, and I don't know if this would have worked for you or not. The idea was to take a 1 or 2 litre pop bottle, cut the bottom off and use that as a stuffer. I don't know if the mouth would have been big enough, but it strikes me it sure would have been an easy way to stuff given the size of the plunger.
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#368 Bombdog

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Posted 10 May 2006 - 12:55 PM

Dave, that stuffing sounded like a lot of work!  How long did it take?

I was thinking about something someone mentioned way up topic, and I don't know if this would have worked for you or not.  The idea was to take a 1 or 2 litre pop bottle, cut the bottom off and use that as a stuffer.  I don't know if the mouth would have been big enough, but it strikes me it sure would have been an easy way to stuff given the size of the plunger.

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That's a good idea Susan. I'm not sure that the opening in a pop bottle is much bigger than the snout on the KA filler though. As we have discussed up thread, I am certainly going to get a different stuffer before I attempt this again.

I thought that the pieces would fit through the KA fill tube when I started. What I didn't think of is that little piece that holds the worm drive in place. It really constricted the opening and it only took a few minutes to find out it wasn't going to work. At that point I was pretty much frantic, as I had 10 lbs of bind that needed to be filled into something NOW.

Lucky me, I had a brand new piece of PVC that fit the bill.

I think it took about 2 hours once I got the PVC cut and cleaned enough to use it. No big deal now. It'll just make the salame taste all that much better in the end.

Edited by Bombdog, 10 May 2006 - 12:56 PM.

Dave Valentin
Retired Explosive Detection K9 Handler
"So, what if we've got it all backwards?" asks my son.
"Got what backwards?" I ask.
"What if chicken tastes like rattlesnake?" My son, the Einstein of the family.


#369 aarontighe

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Posted 10 May 2006 - 05:52 PM

Abra, how long have you let yours cure?  Are you going by weight loss or time?

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Abra, I would be interested to know too.

My jowl has been hanging for ten days now. Took it out for a quick photo yesterday.

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It has lost some 5-6% of its weight, but based on the consistency and moisture content I think it has at least another 14 days to go. Can't wait for endless plates of spaghetti alla carbonara and bucatini al amatriciana.

I put some pancetta in at the same time, 'Charcuterie' cure. The belly was so thick that I could not roll it. The good news is that it should be ready to go tomorrow.

Posted Image

I will be taking 1lb of it up to NY this weekend to cook brunch for a bunch of people. Pics and comments to follow.

#370 Chris Amirault

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Posted 10 May 2006 - 08:17 PM

So many chacuteriffic things to discuss....

Aaron! Most excellent! I'm eager to see what you'll do with your products -- so eager, in fact, that I just created this topic devoted entirely to what we do with these remarkable products we're making. Go share!

Meanwhile, I'm still working to enter the world of the bacterially-prepared foodstuffs. Thanks to my dad and some dowels, I think I have a decent curing chamber for starters:

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It's basically a big plastic bin with an off-center rack supported by two oak dowels. I think there's plenty of room below for a pan of salted ice water. And for the good little charcuterie pixies to play, warding off the evil charcuterie demons with their joyful songs about good bacteria and high humidity.

...

All right, I admit it. I'm freakin' out, man!

Bleached equipment? Distilled water? pH levels? 1/4 cup of bactoferm?? What happened to ziplocks, kosher salt, and finger-poking?

And even if I get the prep right: what then? I don't know too much about my basement, but the mold, mildew, and who knows what all down there is probably evil, fuzzy, and green, not friendly, dusty and white. Them bad bacteria probably treat high humidity like an E-ticket ride at Disneyworld!

Can I get some reassurance here? I'm about to grind up a few pounds of chuck, mix it with who knows what, and throw these links into a black box. Is this as insane as it feels?
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#371 snowangel

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Posted 10 May 2006 - 08:30 PM

Can I get some reassurance here? I'm about to grind up a few pounds of chuck, mix it with who knows what, and throw these links into a black box. Is this as insane as it feels?


Yes and no. I'm on a burn to delve more seriously into all of this stuff, but I've also got a serious burn that needs to be taken care of (my house and yard in prep for a 50th anniversary party for my folks with 100+ guests, catered by your's truely).

So, a plastic bucket, some dowels, and some chuck. It's only money, and not that much, when you thin about it, and what we probably flushed away far more Frivolously when we were young and carefree. Damn it, we now have responsibilities. The care and keepking of kids means keeping them in charcuterie!
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#372 Abra

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Posted 10 May 2006 - 08:56 PM

Well, my guanciale has been hanging for just about 4 weeks now. I'm going by the poke test, and I think it needs a little more time. I'll be cutting a slice off it pretty soon to check it out.

My pancetta hung for a full 4 weeks, and the duck prosciutto, a much smaller piece, took about 2 1/2 weeks. Now the lamb prosciutto, having been double-cured in the fridge for 3 weeks, already looks farther after only hanging for a week along than the guanciale does after 4. I finally wised up and weighed the lamb, though, so this time I can actually report on weight loss.

Chris, I haven't seen the least sign of any mold on anything so far, and this is Seattle. If there's mildew/spores/algae/weird microorganisms to be had, we have 'em. I say go for it.

#373 tazerowe

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Posted 11 May 2006 - 06:56 AM

Ok, I've read the book and I've tried to follow the whole thread, but I do have a few lingering questions.

I have some smaller pieces of fatback and venison that I am consider turning into lardo and bresaola, respectively. (Per the earlier discussion on the venison, I am comfortable with the parasite risks, I think. The meat has been frozen to take care of trichinosis and we usually eat it seared but rare without trouble, so I don't think I am taking much more risk...I hope.) Rather than the recommended 3-5 pounders, I have something closer to a pound each, maybe even a little less. Size-wise, the venison loin is maybe 2-3 inches in diameter and 6 inches long, and the fatback is something like 6 inches square by 1 inch or so thick. My questions:

1. I am concerned about how much cure to use to be safe but avoid excess salinity. Can I use the dredge method and assume I am ok? Does this work for both types of cure, #1 and #2? In the case where the cure is added in two stages, do I just re-dredge or do I clean off the first cure before dredging a second time?

2. For a curing location, I have very old, dusty basement. Right now, it is in the 60-65F range with maybe 60% humidity, so I am probably ok, if a little warm. However, I am very concerned about cleanliness. This is a very old house. The basement leaks and well, I wouldn't want to guess in what century it was last given a real cleaning - it just isn't that kind of space. I can't imagine it is a mold-free environment. My other option is the fridge. I know there are issues, but some have suggested that it might work, especially coupled with the smaller sizes I am considering.

Any thoughts?

#374 Chris Amirault

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Posted 11 May 2006 - 08:29 AM

Hi tazerowe!

1.  I am concerned about how much cure to use to be safe but avoid excess salinity.  Can I use the dredge method and assume I am ok?  Does this work for both types of cure, #1 and #2?


I can't answer for cure #2 (yet...), but I found that dredging bacon with a cure #1 mixture is a very inexact science, and you can pretty much count on a good cure with the ratios in the book even with a fairly light dredge. You also can cut back on the salt a bit more than the book suggests, I've found.

2.  For a curing location, I have very old, dusty basement.  Right now, it is in the 60-65F range with maybe 60% humidity, so I am probably ok, if a little warm.  However, I am very concerned about cleanliness.  This is a very old house.  The basement leaks and well, I wouldn't want to guess in what century it was last given a real cleaning - it just isn't that kind of space.  I can't imagine it is a mold-free environment. 

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That's a pretty good description of where I'll be hanging those peperone tonight, so perhaps we need a little joint experimentation to find out! And, if Abra's experience is a guide, we're probably likely to be ok.
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#375 Bombdog

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Posted 11 May 2006 - 12:04 PM

Can I get some reassurance here? I'm about to grind up a few pounds of chuck, mix it with who knows what, and throw these links into a black box. Is this as insane as it feels?

View Post


Chris, relax. You're on the way. The only worry you will have in a few weeks is a bigger chamber to cure in. You'll get that one filled up and realize you're hooked and need MORE.

I said it up thread, and I'll say it again. "Help, I'm curing and I can't stop!"
Dave Valentin
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"So, what if we've got it all backwards?" asks my son.
"Got what backwards?" I ask.
"What if chicken tastes like rattlesnake?" My son, the Einstein of the family.


#376 Abra

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Posted 11 May 2006 - 02:28 PM

On the "help, I'm curing and I can't stop" front, today I put up, using all Charcuterie recipes:

the diced and seasoned mix to make Italian sausage tomorrow (yay, my first sausage at last!)

tasso - now curing briefly, to be smoked later this afternoon with a mess of chicken thighs

lardo - I really can't wait for this one!

pork confit - curing until tomorrow before its oil bath

Actually, it was easier to do all of this at once than doing the individual items at separate times. Having one 7 lb Niman butt and about 6 pounds of back fat out, plus, the curing salts, made doing all four projects pretty easy. It took me about 2 hours to get all of them squared away, and that included dicing the meat for the sausage. Now they're all resting peacefully in the fridge, along with the soaking casings, and 4 lbs of back fat, properly divided and bagged up, is back in the freezer.

Tomorrow we stuff!

#377 alanamoana

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Posted 11 May 2006 - 07:37 PM

Tomorrow we stuff!

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That would make a great sig line for someone on this thread! hehehe

I'm trying to keep up with this, but you are all working too fast for me! I bought the book based on the first couple of pages of this thread...if only I wasn't so lazy.

I'm very impressed by all the wonderful charcuterie you have produced. Every form, every shape, every flavor just looks delicious.

I wanted to thank you all for the photographs documenting all the stages of your work. It is an amazing resource. I only wish the book could have all those photos too. I normally only buy cookbooks with pictures, but I'm sure it would have cost a fortune to print (and the retail price would have shot up).

So thank you all for the great work! It is much appreciated.

#378 Chris Amirault

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Posted 11 May 2006 - 09:20 PM

After over four hours of strangely anxious labor, I now have 2.5 kg of peperone inoculating in my oven:

Posted Image

It is very odd to write that sentence. I'm inoculating my food. What a strange world curing is!

I followed the peperone recipe in the book pretty faithfully, save for a few things based on the advice here: scaling way back on the bactoferm (1 1/2 tsp for 5# of chuck), using the coarse plate on my KA grinder, substituting 2 T of red wine vinegar for the wine, and adding 2 t of black pepper to the spices. I also combined the spices, dextrose, etc. (not the bactoferm) to the diced cold meat before grinding, which I've been doing consistently for a while to mix the spices in more effectively. Grind, chill, beat for the bind, chill, stuff, and finally hang in the oven with the light on. It's probably going to be about 70 in there, max, so I'm going to give it a blast of heat in the a.m. and then leave it a bit longer than 12 hours.

Ruhlman is right: there's something very odd about doing all this work and then hanging a bunch of raw meat around the house.
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#379 Bombdog

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Posted 12 May 2006 - 04:07 AM

Great job Chris! Those look fantastic. Keep us up on how they cure (and taste of course) I don't think you'll be disappointed.

I think I'll go slice some right now for breakfast.
Dave Valentin
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"So, what if we've got it all backwards?" asks my son.
"Got what backwards?" I ask.
"What if chicken tastes like rattlesnake?" My son, the Einstein of the family.


#380 Chris Amirault

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Posted 12 May 2006 - 07:20 AM

Thanks, Dave. I appreciate it! I have a question, though. They've been in an oven that's been around 70F most of the night; I gave them a little more heat around 11 and 12m, then at 8a and 9a, which bumped the temp up to 90F max. I can't imagine they were in the 75-85 range more than 2 hours total.

I can run home at noon and take them out -- 13 hours -- or I can just do it when I get home from work at six -- 19 hours. Given the lower temp, should I leave them extra? Or should I stick to the 12 hour timing?
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#381 Bombdog

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Posted 12 May 2006 - 07:28 AM

Thanks, Dave. I appreciate it! I have a question, though. They've been in an oven that's been around 70F most of the night; I gave them a little more heat around 11 and 12m, then at 8a and 9a, which bumped the temp up to 90F max. I can't imagine they were in the 75-85 range more than 2 hours total.

I can run home at noon and take them out -- 13 hours -- or I can just do it when I get home from work at six -- 19 hours. Given the lower temp, should I leave them extra? Or should I stick to the 12 hour timing?

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I normally put my stuff in the oven with the light on and leave it overnight, or about 12 hours. I laid an instant read thermometer ontop of the sheet pan once and it read 78. I think your 13 hours is fine. I have never left anything in for much longer so I really can't say if it would cause you any problems.
Dave Valentin
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"So, what if we've got it all backwards?" asks my son.
"Got what backwards?" I ask.
"What if chicken tastes like rattlesnake?" My son, the Einstein of the family.


#382 Pallee

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Posted 12 May 2006 - 07:36 AM

I've made the peperone twice and agree it seems so weird to have it hanging at such high temps for the first fermentation. Goes against all the food safety stuff I know, but I've brewed enough beer to know that fermentation is your friend. I've been hanging it in the bathroom with the heater on and have kept it at 85 -90' for almost 24 hours before moving it to the 65' wine cellar.

Just finished smoking my second batch of bacon yesterday. I took a smaller piece of belly and stuffed garlic cloves into it. Looking forward to tasting that. I gave my brother bacon of the month club for Christmas a couple years back and the garlic stuffed bacon was their favorite.

Have yet to make the salami, but that's next on the list, with andouille close behind!

#383 Chris Amirault

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Posted 12 May 2006 - 07:45 AM

Since I'm cooler than 78F I'm going to split the difference and take it out late tonight. Do you think that 70F is too low for the inoculation?

edited to clarify -- ca

Edited by chrisamirault, 12 May 2006 - 07:47 AM.

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#384 Bombdog

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Posted 12 May 2006 - 07:54 AM

Just finished smoking my second batch of bacon yesterday. I took a smaller piece of belly and stuffed garlic cloves into it. Looking forward to tasting that. I gave my brother bacon of the month club for Christmas a couple years back and the garlic stuffed bacon was their favorite.

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That sounds awesome! How did you do it?

Since I'm cooler than 78F I'm going to split the difference and take it out late tonight. Do you think that 70F is too low for the inoculation?

edited to clarify -- ca

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Actually, confession time. The first Tuscan salame I made (before someone mentioned the idea of the oven with the light on) I just covered the sheet pan with a towel and placed it in my laundry room (with my dogs, nothing is safe on a counter) for a few hours. I'm certain the temp never got above 70F, and that project turned out just fine.

I think you are okay Chris.
Dave Valentin
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"So, what if we've got it all backwards?" asks my son.
"Got what backwards?" I ask.
"What if chicken tastes like rattlesnake?" My son, the Einstein of the family.


#385 Chris Amirault

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Posted 12 May 2006 - 07:57 AM

That's actually quite a relief. I don't know why I'm finding this so extraordinarily stressful....
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#386 hwilson41

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Posted 12 May 2006 - 08:10 AM

I don't know why I'm finding this so extraordinarily stressful....

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Maybe because it is possible to poison yourself if you're wrong :raz:?
"My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne." John Maynard Keynes

#387 Bombdog

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Posted 12 May 2006 - 08:16 AM

That's actually quite a relief. I don't know why I'm finding this so extraordinarily stressful....

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I'll admit to being a bit weirded about the entire process when I did my first batch of Tuscan salame.

Speaking of which:

Posted Image

I just removed my second batch from the curing chamber.

Yummy!
Dave Valentin
Retired Explosive Detection K9 Handler
"So, what if we've got it all backwards?" asks my son.
"Got what backwards?" I ask.
"What if chicken tastes like rattlesnake?" My son, the Einstein of the family.


#388 hwilson41

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Posted 12 May 2006 - 08:30 AM

I'll admit to being a bit weirded about the entire process when I did my first batch of Tuscan salame.

Speaking of which:

I just removed my second batch from the curing chamber.

Yummy!

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Dave, beautiful work, as usual. You seem to have the gift with these dried salames. But what in the world do you do with all the food you're turnout out :biggrin:? Surely your family isn't that large...is it?
"My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne." John Maynard Keynes

#389 Bombdog

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Posted 12 May 2006 - 09:31 AM

Dave, beautiful work, as usual.  You seem to have the gift with these dried salames.  But what in the world do you do with all the food you're turnout out :biggrin:?  Surely your family isn't that large...is it?

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Thanks much. I'm not sure it's as much knack as it is luck...but I'll take either one. As far as where it's all going.....I've asked myself that recently. I guess I give away more to my son and my neighbor that I realize.

Edited by Bombdog, 12 May 2006 - 09:38 AM.

Dave Valentin
Retired Explosive Detection K9 Handler
"So, what if we've got it all backwards?" asks my son.
"Got what backwards?" I ask.
"What if chicken tastes like rattlesnake?" My son, the Einstein of the family.


#390 mdbasile

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Posted 12 May 2006 - 04:01 PM

Hey all -- I have been reading and doing some posting in the restaurant area here, but this is my first post(I think) here.

I have made my own version of the salmon half a dozen times, the fresh brats, sweet/hot italian, duck sage sausage, and the tuscan salami.

I am planning on doing some more salami and sausages this weekend, but I realize that I do not have any more bactoferm. I want to make the spanish chorizo... just how obligatory is the bactoferm?

Can you make it without?

Yes Yes -- I will post some pictures too -- when I stop being so lazy...





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