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Cooking & Curing from "Charcuterie": Part 2

Charcuterie Cookbook

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#181 Dave Weinstein

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Posted 19 April 2006 - 04:47 PM

The Chai spiced bacon was a mixed success. The flavorings worked well, but there was a bit too much cure and the result was overly salty (requiring a blanch before using).

I'll do another test batch before posting the recipe.

--Dave

#182 Chris Amirault

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Posted 19 April 2006 - 05:03 PM

Dave, your post reminded me of something I've figured out but haven't yet shared about the appropriate amount of cure. My first batch I put waaaaaaaay too much cure on the bacon, and it produced an unpalatable saltiness. I've realized that a good guide is to think that I'm dredging the belly; I don't want cure caked onto the belly in any spots, but I want it coated thoroughly with the cure. If that makes sense. :huh:
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#183 Dave Weinstein

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Posted 19 April 2006 - 11:14 PM

Dave, your post reminded me of something I've figured out but haven't yet shared about the appropriate amount of cure. My first batch I put waaaaaaaay too much cure on the bacon, and it produced an unpalatable saltiness. I've realized that a good guide is to think that I'm dredging the belly; I don't want cure caked onto the belly in any spots, but I want it coated thoroughly with the cure. If that makes sense. :huh:

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I'm working with smaller pieces (because I can get them easily at the local market, and that means I can experiment more) and using vacuum sealed bags for the curing, so I'm sprinkling rather than dredging. I just used a slightly larger piece (by about 1/3 lb) than I had been, and over-compensated.

--Dave

#184 Michael Ruhlman

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Posted 20 April 2006 - 04:36 AM

a response to a few points of discussion here. three tablespoons of salt or 4 tablespoons of basic dry cure will cure as much as five pounds of belly, but dredging as described above is also a sure method of getting the right amount of salt.

believe it or not, you can use rendered fat to make an emulsified sausage or any sausage as long as it's freezing cold and ground. remember though that it no longer has water in it so increase that a little.

for the mortadella that wants more pinkness and tangyness, you might try increasing the pink salt to one teaspoon, and also perhaps seasoning the mixture with an acid, lemon juice or white wine vinegar (but not enough to actually taste which acid it is).

boudin blancs are a great sausage to make--make sure your spices are very fresh.

#185 melicob

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Posted 20 April 2006 - 09:49 AM

Another silly question...

I'm thinking of getting a Hygrometer, but am not ready to fork over the big bucks. Has anyone tried the small hygrometers for reptile terrariums (like $3 or something)? Is that going to give me a close enough reading or do I need something with precision? What are the +/- on the humidity and temp that still makes conditions acceptable? (I know the actual answer to this is “it depends” but if anyone can add a little more guidance it would be greatly appreciated.)

Also, does the room smell sausagey when it’s hanging? (Not that I have a problem with this, just looking to manage my & husband's expectations.) And do I need to put some kind of drip pad under it to catch the water? (All the jamon serrano I saw in curing Spain had the little fat hats on the bottom of them to catch the drips, but I didn’t know if that was specific to ham.)

Thanks for all the pointers!

#186 Bombdog

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Posted 20 April 2006 - 11:15 AM

Another silly question...

I'm thinking of getting a Hygrometer, but am not ready to fork over the big bucks. Has anyone tried the small hygrometers for reptile terrariums (like $3 or something)? Is that going to give me a close enough reading or do I need something with precision? What are the +/- on the humidity and temp that still makes conditions acceptable? (I know the actual answer to this is “it depends” but if anyone can add a little more guidance it would be greatly appreciated.)

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I use a digital one that I swiped from an unused cigar humidor and it works fine for me. I mean, all you are really trying to do is find out what the RH is. The books gives you a 20 percent variation, I believe, so nothing fantastically acurate is necessary.

My box (an unused refrigerator) stays at about 48-53 degrees and the RH is anywhere from 50 to 70 percent. I have a container of salted water in the box to help keep the humidity up.
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#187 snowangel

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Posted 20 April 2006 - 05:45 PM

Happy dance...I have back fat. A lot of it.

I want to do a venison sausage. The venison sausage (smoked) in the book just doesn't turn my crank. I've been thinking of subbing the vension for the turkey in the turskey sausage with dried tart cherries, except I can't seem to find dried tart cherries that don't have any sugar added.

Some suggestions, please. I'd like to do a sausage with something other than meat, fat and spices. A veg or a fruit. Lighten it up. Ideas, please. I still have one deer in the freezer.
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#188 Bombdog

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Posted 20 April 2006 - 08:10 PM

Happy dance...I have back fat.  A lot of it.

I want to do a venison sausage. 

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Susan, I did the Hungarian smoked sausage from the book, where I substituted venison for the beef. It's nearly done (been hanging for about 5 weeks) and it's quite tasty. However, it doesn't have near the gamy flavor of venison that I wanted.

That's why I was asking for recipe ideas last week. I ended up making a venison salame that I incubated yesterday and hung today. My thought was that a dry cured version would have more of the gamy venison flavor I was looking for.

I really have little experience with game, so compatible flavors are a mystery to me. I suppose I'll have to wait a few weeks to see how this project turns out.

If Michael can get Brian to respond perhaps we can get some ideas from him.

Edited by Bombdog, 20 April 2006 - 08:12 PM.

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#189 FoodMan

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 08:36 AM

Happy dance...I have back fat.  A lot of it.

I want to do a venison sausage.  The venison sausage (smoked) in the book just doesn't turn my crank.  I've been thinking of subbing the vension for the turkey in the turskey sausage with dried tart cherries, except I can't seem to find dried tart cherries that don't have any sugar added.

Some suggestions, please.  I'd like to do a sausage with something other than meat, fat and spices.  A veg or a fruit.  Lighten it up.  Ideas, please.  I still have one deer in the freezer.

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Do you have any Whole Foods near by or any other "natural" foods store? they should carry cherries with no sugar added in their bulk bins.

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#190 tazerowe

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 10:28 AM

Speaking of venison:

1. I did the venison terrine from Charcuterie a couple of weeks ago and was very pleased. It had a nice texture, and the cherries worked well with the meat (although they remained rather alcoholic after a soak in brandy and a very slow cooking.

2. Has anyone tried an air-dried cured venison loin, something like bresaola? I've still got plenty of meat left and thought I might give it a shot.

#191 jmolinari

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 10:41 AM

With wild venison i'd be worried about parasites...

#192 Bombdog

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 11:07 AM

With wild venison i'd be worried about parasites...

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I had a PM discussion about this very thing with Michael several months ago. It was my belief that if you freeze the meat for at least 3 weeks prior to curing that you would be okay.
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#193 tazerowe

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 11:56 AM

With wild venison i'd be worried about parasites...

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I had a PM discussion about this very thing with Michael several months ago. It was my belief that if you freeze the meat for at least 3 weeks prior to curing that you would be okay.

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Mine has been in the freezer much longer than that. I know that is supposed to take care of the trichinosis (sp?). I don't know what else I would be up against...

#194 Michael Ruhlman

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 12:39 PM

Happy dance...I have back fat.  A lot of it.

I want to do a venison sausage.  The venison sausage (smoked) in the book just doesn't turn my crank.  I've been thinking of subbing the vension for the turkey in the turskey sausage with dried tart cherries, except I can't seem to find dried tart cherries that don't have any sugar added.

Some suggestions, please.  I'd like to do a sausage with something other than meat, fat and spices.  A veg or a fruit.  Lighten it up.  Ideas, please.  I still have one deer in the freezer.

View Post


Brian's response: "Sub in any dried fruit, apricots, prunes, raisins etc.. sugar added to dreid tart cherries probably because they would be too tart after drying. What’s wrong with sugar? Try caramelized onions or roasted garlic as a moisture and flavor enhancer. On the gamey issue depending on what the animal had as a diet will determine the flavor of the meat also aging the meat properly before freezing will enhance the taste. I’ll tell milos tonight that this guy doesn’t like his recipe."

the venison sausage is quite good actually.

michael symon in cleveland does dried venison loin. and yes, freezing will take care of trichinosis bugs.

Edited by Michael Ruhlman, 21 April 2006 - 12:41 PM.


#195 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 12:40 PM

One thing about dried cherries is that they are often dried using sugar. Compared to other chemical-reliant processes, that might actually be preferrable.

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#196 Bombdog

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 12:57 PM

I’ll tell milos tonight that this guy doesn’t like his recipe."

the venison sausage is quite good actually.

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HEY, not fair! That's not what I said!

I didn't make the Chef Milo's venison sausage, I made the Hungarian paprika sausage, substituting venison for the beef. I like it fine, it just didn't have the gamy flavor I had presupposed it would.

Edited by Bombdog, 22 April 2006 - 06:07 AM.

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#197 Abra

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 01:18 PM

I want to post my latest effort, Canadian bacon, and start a discussion about smoking technique.

Posted Image
Here's the bacon. It's very delicious, but more or less indistinguishable from ham. Now that I think of it, except for the cut of meat, is there supposed to be a difference?

But smoking this got me to thinking. Now that I know about cold smoking and hot smoking, I just naturally combined the two on this bacon. Since we know smoke is absorbed at the lower temps, I reasoned, why not smoke this at a lower temp for a while to keep the outer surface of the meat below 140, then, because it's supposed to get to 150 internally, crank it up towards the end? So that's what I did, kept it at about 100-125 for a couple of hours, then fired it up to 200-225 for the last hour. It was getting dark, or I would have held an even lower temp for longer, before heating it up for the finish.

So, what do you all think - is there a potential benefit to doing both lower and higher temp smoking on the same meat? My Canadian bacon is very smoky (I used apple) and has a clear, bright flavor that I quite love, but I don't know whether the technique made a difference to this or not.

#198 Michael Ruhlman

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 01:43 PM

bombdog, he was refering to snowangels comment, and he's cranky today anyway.

abra, your bacon looks perfect. the reason for smoking at a low temp is to get more smoke on the meat; if that's what you want, you did it just right.

there isn't much difference between ham and canadian bacon, that's what pork cured with sodium nitrite tastes like--you'd get the same flavor if you did it with a pork chop, or as a pork shoulder (which is called a cottage ham in some places).

#199 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 01:49 PM

So, what do you all think - is there a potential benefit to doing both lower and higher temp smoking on the same meat?  My Canadian bacon is very smoky (I used apple) and has a clear, bright flavor that I quite love, but I don't know whether the technique made a difference to this or not.

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I realize that Michael has already weighed in here but this is also how my butcher does it with the smoked meats he produces. He starts them out at lower temp, lets the smoke do its thing and then turns up the heat after that to accomplish the "cooking" phase.

Of course, knowing exactly how much smoke to use is still the elusive (and personal) issue. As was said upthread, that's why note-taking is so valuable with these types of projects. Once you learn your own preferences, recording them -- and how you achieved them -- is incredibly useful.

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#200 Pallee

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 02:46 PM

About the trichinosis - the CDC web site says to freeze pork less than 6" thick at 5' for 20 days. Then it goes on to say that freezing game meats may not effectively kill all worms and the only sure fire way to do that is complete cooking, and that smoking, curing and drying also don't work. The trich risk seems low with venison as it mainly affects meat eating critters, but my whole family is from Montana and lived on game in the last century and wouldn't touch less than well cooked venison for all the other parasites. Everything has risks, you just need to be as well informed as you can when you take those risks, or expose others to them.

I know Carlton Farms sells Trich-free pork that's been held at something like -30 for 8 days and is certified as such.

#201 Abra

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 04:16 PM

I really love smoke, so I'm not even sure I could get it too smoky. I guess that means that I'm going to try this dual/temp technique on the next meat I smoke too, and see if I continue to love it.

One reason I favor the intense smoke is that I'm trying to minimize my own personal resemblance to The Noble Pig, so I tend to use my charcuterie more as a garnish than the main event. I can't resist posting one more bit of Canadian bacon porn, my lunch today - Bacon and Egg Salad

Posted Image
And no, I didn't enhance the color at all, that's the way my farm eggs look at this time of year.

#202 Bombdog

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 05:16 PM

bombdog, he was refering to snowangels comment, and he's cranky today anyway.

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Whew!
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#203 MarkinHouston

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 07:04 PM

bombdog, he was refering to snowangels comment, and he's cranky today anyway.

abra, your bacon looks perfect.  the reason for smoking at a low temp is to get more smoke on the meat; if that's what you want, you did it just right.

there isn't much difference between ham and canadian bacon, that's what pork cured with sodium nitrite tastes like--you'd get the same flavor if you did it with a pork chop, or as a pork shoulder (which is called a cottage ham in some places).

View Post


The local market occasionally makes what they call "Arkansas bacon" from halved and cured pork shoulder--have you ever ran across this term before? Thanks.

#204 Michael Ruhlman

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 07:15 PM

abra, i'm swooning, that is a BEAUTIFUL egg shot.

#205 Dave the Cook

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 07:38 PM

I hope no one minds if turn back the clock a bit to pork belly. I've got a couple of questions.

I got a five-pound belly (yes, nipples and all). I cut it in half, squared each part up and applied the cure -- since I was dealing with the same size belly as described in the book, I stuck to the recipe (btw, Michael, props on using weights as well as volumes). I put each half in a ziplock bag and stuck them in in the refrigerator. I've turned and redistributed the liquid religiously. This project commenced last Friday. I'm wondering how to tell when it's ready to come out of the cure. I suppose it's not as limp as it was to start, but I'm at seven days, and my belly is still pretty damn floppy.

Second question: I'm guessing what y'all are going to tell me is that I just need to wait a few more days. That's going to put me early to mid-week. Add two days or so for the pellicle, and we're close enough to the weekend to make it work. The problem is that I'm not going to be able to smoke it immediately, or even next weekend. Can I freeze the cured belly? If I can, should I do it pre- or post-pellicle? I'm guessing the former, but you guys are more experinced than I am. Or should I just roast it off? (Even if the advice is to freeze, I might roast off one piece just to see how it tastes.)

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#206 snowangel

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 08:49 PM

No, Dave, feel free to turn the clock back to belly. I'm thinking that other 12 pounder needs to come out fairly soon and get baconed. Have you been poking your belly with a finger daily? That's what I did, and when it started to firm up, I smoked it. I probably smoked it too early; I was impatient. And, if my bacon supply runs out before I do another batch, I'll be impatient, too. I guess the question is just how firm should this be after the cure?

My one comment, Dave, is I didn't bother squaring anything up. I just sort of figured that all of the extra bits that were hanging over or not quite square would find a use, and the idea of not smoking a square cm of this stuff would be a waste. And, I was right. I'd be changing that direction is a re-issue of the book. Since I squared it off after the fact, I had all sorts of wonderful nibbly bits for salads, pasta, etc.

Sorry, no answers about freezing the cured stuff. My immediate reaction would be that if you can smoke it tomorrow, do so.
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#207 Michael Ruhlman

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Posted 22 April 2006 - 05:54 AM

Dave, unless your belly is unusually thick, I'll bet that it's ready. It should feel firm when you press on it, but it's not going to be completely stiff. I've never left a belly on the cure more than 7 days using that quantity of salt. If I were you, i'd take it off the cure to day, rinse and dry it, refrigerate it uncovered today and smoke it tomorrow.

Or: leave it on the cure for a few more days, then refrigerate till next weekend. It's cured so no need to freeze if you're going to cook it in a few days. you could hang it in your kitchen to dry if you wanted and it would be good.

#208 Dave the Cook

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Posted 22 April 2006 - 11:01 AM

. . . . .
I guess the question is just how firm should this be after the cure?

Michael says it's done, so I'm calling it done. It is firmer than I thought -- the ziplock adds a flop quotient, making the belly seem less firm than it really is. I'd call it, after the old rule for knowing when a steak is done, slightly less than thumb-pad firm.

. . . . .

My one comment, Dave, is I didn't bother squaring anything up.  I just sort of figured that all of the extra bits that were hanging over or not quite square would find a use, and the idea of not smoking a square cm of this stuff would be a waste.  And, I was right.  I'd be changing that direction is a re-issue of the book.  Since I squared it off after the fact, I had all sorts of wonderful nibbly bits for salads, pasta, etc.

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I am all about nibbly bits. I admit to keeping the fleshier trimmings. I might roast them off, or toss them in the smoker. Next time, I'll just leave them on.

Dave, unless your belly is unusually thick, I'll bet that it's ready.  It should feel firm when you press  on it, but it's not going to be completely stiff.  I've never left a belly on the cure more than 7 days using that quantity of salt.  If I were you, i'd take it off the cure to day, rinse and dry it, refrigerate it uncovered today and smoke it tomorrow.

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This is what I'm going to do. It's out, rinsed, dried and chillin'. Thanks.

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#209 Bombdog

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Posted 22 April 2006 - 11:17 AM

I am all about nibbly bits. I admit to keeping the fleshier trimmings. I might roast them off, or toss them in the smoker. Next time, I'll just leave them on.



Once caveat Dave. I trimmed my first offerings to the bacon God too, and then put a fairly good size irregular piece in the cure also. Just don't leave it in near as long as the others (normal slabs) It was almost unbearably salty.

I only trim to fit the ziplock now and square it away after the smoking is done. I don't know why I bother, unless I'm afraid Martha Stewart is going to come in and check them out. I hate the thought of being gigged for irregular bacon slabs.
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#210 snowangel

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Posted 22 April 2006 - 06:22 PM

We grilled the last of my chicken sausages tonight. Again, they are wonderful, but like I said, next time I will aim for colder when grinding and binding, and perhaps add more fat.

But, I must admit that one of the most useful tips I have received from this book is the advice on what temp at which one should pull the sausages.

As Diana said "I think one reason I don't like a lot of sausages is because they are waaaayyyy overcooked." Well said, Diana.
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"





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