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Cooking & Curing from "Charcuterie": Part 4


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#1 Bombdog

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Posted 19 August 2006 - 11:24 AM

Manager note: this continues the discussion found in Part 3 of this topic.




this is an interesting comment on a couple levels but it compels me now to note fyi, that we are working on a revised charcuterie to include a few new recipes that people seem to want and to revise some older ones.

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Damned you Ruhman!

I just ordered Kinsella, Grigson, and Bertolli's books. (all your fault)

It's not bad enough that after finishing Reach I had to go out and buy replacement copies of Making and Soul (loaned out and never returned)

and now you tell me I'm going to have to buy ANOTHER copy of Charcuterie too!

Sheesh!
Dave Valentin
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#2 tristar

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Posted 20 August 2006 - 04:39 AM

He needs a humidifier in there to bring humidity up, and also a dehumidifier or drier for when it gets too high.

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This may not be strictly true, in my experience some form of humidifier is needed, but not necessarily a dehumidifier. The cooling system in most of these devices tends to pull the humidity down anyway. Just look at a typical refrigerator which is quite arid, and will dry out the contents if they are not covered or in containers. My modified refrigerator has no problems with high humidity which the condensation of the water vapour on the cooling element doesn't take care of, the humidity will rise as new product is introduced but I have never found that the time taken to reduce this to my working levels has given me any cause for concern. This time taken to reduce the humidity is normally less than 12 hours in my case, but does depend on the quantity and moisture levels of the new product introduced, this may slightly lengthen the time taken to dry existing product but this hobby is not for the impatient anyway is it? How many others on this forum would be prepared to wait 18 months for a slice of ham? :rolleyes:

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#3 jmolinari

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Posted 20 August 2006 - 05:59 AM

Richard, what you're saying is true, and i use that effect to in my chamber, but that is only true for "frost-free" fridges. These mini fridges use cooling coils, meaning the humidity that is in there, stays in tehre, and never gets pulled out.

#4 dougal

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Posted 20 August 2006 - 09:10 AM

Richard, what you're saying is true, and i use that effect to in my chamber, but that is only true for "frost-free" fridges.  These mini fridges use cooling coils, meaning the humidity that is in there, stays in tehre, and never gets pulled out.

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Since one shouldn't be seeing a lot of *frost* as such at 15C, I think the requirement would be that one had a condensate drain, or other means of removing it (air change or even a sponge).
If only it were 'frost', that would lock up the excess moisture.



I can recognise that a humidity controlled, moderate temperature enclosure would be of great interest both to home charcuriers and home cheesemakers, but I'm not sure that even the combined market at the likely price, (I'm pessimistic), could justify the costs of productionising a special enclosure. The higher the price, the more an already small market is restricted and the higher still the price must be set to recover the development and fixed costs.

I do however wonder whether or not a 'control pack' might be a more viable product.
Such a pack could then be applied to whatever fridge was available.

By leaving out the enclosure, the whole compressor/evaporator mechanism, and having a smaller product to stock and ship, it should be much more affordable - and hence have a larger market.
I'd like to see
- everything inside the fridge being low voltage. Thats humidifier, fan and controls.
- a "mains power switching" box outside the fridge. (And do me a favour, allow it to work on 240v at 50 Hz, please!)
- And please can I have an LED panel on a ribbon cable to come past the door seal and magnetically stick to the outside of the door or chest freezer to show me cooling, humidifying, and fan activity? (And a flashing low water level warning for the humidifier.) A readout (with max and min stored) of temperature and humidity would be very good to have on that panel too.
Would it be a good idea to make the pack fit into the fridge door? That would minimise the useful space taken up, and might make for easy attachment to removable (potentially replaceable) plastic shelves.

Oh, and by allowing it to control a heater (rather than a fridge) it could possibly be sold to reptile keepers as well.

I've got a feeling that if the exterior temperature gets too low, (like in a garage), then the cooler isn't going to be called on, and hence the cooler isn't going to function as a dehumidifier.
And with the same actual moisture content in the air, allowing it to get "too cold" is going to also increase the relative humidity undesireably.
Probably the way round this involves a heater, perhaps a repurposing of the fridge's existing interior lamp - although the simpler, if counter-intuitive, answer would be to keep the curing fridge in a room that was always above 15C... ! (Though clearly this wouldn't be a problem in Tristar's location... :D )

Edited by dougal, 20 August 2006 - 09:15 AM.

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

#5 francois

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Posted 20 August 2006 - 09:10 AM

Next weekend, I would like to try the American style brown sugar glazed ham (p. 93), using a 8 pound fresh ham from a baby pig.

When I buy a ham at the supermarket, it benefits from being slowly braised, even if labeled 'fully cooked'.  Should I do the same with the ham I am about to smoke?

Also, any thoughts on how it would turn out if I cooked it with the rind on and remove it later, to glaze the ham  in the oven (like what I usually do with a store bought ham).

The recipe does not give any time estimate.  Has anyone tried it? How long can I expect it to take to cook in the smoker?

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I smoked the ham yesterday. Turned out real nice.

It was smaller than I thought, slightly over 5 pounds (the pig was about 3 months old, pretty much the size of a small lamb). I left it in the brine for 2 1/2 days but I did inject some inside, (following the suggestions in the CIA book - Garde Manger)Hardly any fat so to protect the meat, I smoked it with the rind on. After it was smoked, I removed the rind and quikly glazed it in the oven.

It took about 5 hours in the smoker.

The CIA book suggests smoking to an internal temp of 150 F vs 155 F in Charcuterie - Any thoughts on how much 5 degrees F can make in the finished product?

#6 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 20 August 2006 - 11:17 AM

Dave, I love the board. I don't have room for one that large but I do have room for a smaller one and will seek one out later today, on-line.

Lot's going on here today . . . smoking another Wagyu pastrami and another large slab of bacon at the moment. I just tubed off a batch of Andouille, which I will smoke later this evening or tomorrow.

For the first time in days, I can actually see light coming from the back of my refrigerator. Although, once the pastrami and the bacon are finished smoking, I'll be back to where I was until "distribution" mode begins. :smile:

Francois, I doubt the 5 degrees will make any difference at all. I'd feel comfortable taking it to 150 F or 155 F. Once you go over that level, you might experience some drying, so I wouldn't go above 160 F no matter what.

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#7 Kerry Beal

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Posted 20 August 2006 - 03:35 PM

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Valuable lesson learned, to cold smoke cheese you need cold. Tastes great though.

#8 tristar

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Posted 21 August 2006 - 05:07 AM

I like the board as well, but my solution was simpler, whiteboard marker and the front door of the refrigerator! :biggrin:
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#9 Kerry Beal

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Posted 21 August 2006 - 07:02 AM

If every one can stand a few more gratuitous bacon shots.




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Honey cure.

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Maple cure.


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California ham spice cure.

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A trio of smoked salts. Kosher with a pellicle of jojoba oil. Sel de Guerande. Fleur de sel.

The honey cure won hands down. The california ham spice was interesting, very meaty. Anyone know what is in that stuff? The only definate info I can find says it contains clove and sugar.

#10 Misplaced_Texan

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Posted 21 August 2006 - 05:21 PM

If every one can stand a few more gratuitous bacon shots.

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Honey cure.

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Pictures like this make me happy I picked the book up. I just need the time to make something!

#11 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 21 August 2006 - 05:24 PM

If every one can stand a few more gratuitous bacon shots . . .

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We can never have too many. Nice work, Kerry. :smile:

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#12 FoodMan

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Posted 22 August 2006 - 08:32 AM

My little Lardo and Lomo curing project worked out great! Even though the room is still a little drier that ideal, both meats cured beautifully. The Lardo made from belly took about a couple of weeks and has a very intense porky fatty flavor. The Lomo was lovely with a good hit of garlic and spice. I will post my "recipe" for it soon. Like I mentioned it was based on the Bresaola recipe.

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BTW, Michael I would be happy to test a recipe as well. I do not have a stuffer, but I do have everything else.

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#13 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 22 August 2006 - 08:39 AM

Beautiful stuff, Elie. I definitely want to make some lardo too. I had some over the weekend that was just awesome. Thanks for the pics.

=R=
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#14 Abra

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Posted 22 August 2006 - 08:29 PM

Kerry, there is no such thing as "gratuitous" bacon. All bacon is essential.

Wow, Elie, there's a lot of meat in that lardo. how come you used a belly, as opposed to fatback? I'm looking forward to your lomo recipe!

#15 FoodMan

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Posted 22 August 2006 - 09:25 PM

Kerry, there is no such thing as "gratuitous" bacon.  All bacon is essential.

Wow, Elie, there's a lot of meat in that lardo.  how come you used a belly, as opposed to fatback?  I'm looking forward to your lomo recipe!

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Well, because I could not find appropriatly thick fatback at the butcher, so I gave the belly a try.

Funny, only someone on this thread would say that there is too much meat in that hunk of fat :biggrin:

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#16 Gul_Dekar

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Posted 23 August 2006 - 07:58 AM

Just jumping onto the bandwagon and about to attempt my first project - bacon or...pancetta. I just have a question. How important is the humidity factor if I plan to cure stuff in a refrigerator? I stuck a thermometer that has a humidity reading and it's about 15C and 20% humidity in the fridge I'm 'dedicating' to curing stuff if it's possible. Also use the fridge to store flours and other dried stuff which doesnt carry any funky flavours (since one has to refrigerate most things in the tropics!) so it's not too crowded. So, any ideas?

#17 jmolinari

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Posted 23 August 2006 - 08:18 AM

for pancetta you'll be ok. For other things it will be too low.

#18 francois

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Posted 23 August 2006 - 03:19 PM

Just jumping onto the bandwagon and about to attempt my first project - bacon or...pancetta. I just have a question. How important is the humidity factor if I plan to cure stuff in a refrigerator? I stuck a thermometer that has a humidity reading and it's about 15C and 20% humidity in the fridge I'm 'dedicating' to curing stuff if it's possible. Also use the fridge to store flours and other dried stuff which doesnt carry any funky flavours (since one has to refrigerate most things in the tropics!) so it's not too crowded. So, any ideas?

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I know this is a stupid question but I'll ask anyway...

I assume your fridge is working.

In Charcuterie, It is written that 'an unused refrigerator can be a perfect drying box', Later an 'unpluged refrigerator' is mentioned. Would a fridge that is working, at it's lowest setting work? Even at the lowest setting it is probably much colder than the 60 F that is recommanded.

I have a second fridge but I use it to store a few things and while it would give me room to cure some sausages, I just could not turn it off. Could I use the suggestion of water and salt in a working fridge to increase the humidity??

#19 Bombdog

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Posted 23 August 2006 - 03:48 PM

[
I have a second fridge but I use it to store a few things and while it would give me room to cure some sausages, I just could not turn it off.  Could I use the suggestion of water and salt in a working fridge to increase the humidity??

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This is exactly what I use. My temp remains about 55-60F. I keep a large glass bread baking dish filled with heavily salted water on the bottom.

So far...so good. Only problems have been of my own making.
Dave Valentin
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"Got what backwards?" I ask.
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#20 Gul_Dekar

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Posted 23 August 2006 - 08:58 PM

I know this is a stupid question but I'll ask anyway...

I assume your fridge is working.

In Charcuterie, It is written that 'an unused refrigerator can be a perfect drying box', Later an 'unpluged refrigerator' is mentioned.  Would a fridge that is working, at it's lowest setting work? Even at the lowest setting it is probably much colder than the 60 F that is recommanded. 

I have a second fridge but I use it to store a few things and while it would give me room to cure some sausages, I just could not turn it off.  Could I use the suggestion of water and salt in a working fridge to increase the humidity??

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Yup, it's working. I think it would go up to 80F if it were turned off (average room temp is about 88F here :raz:). I've managed to get it to stay about 60F but it can actually go a bit warmer if need be. Maybe I'll try the water & salt trick too and see if I can get the humidity up.

p.s. what's the use of salt for though?

Edited by Gul_Dekar, 23 August 2006 - 08:59 PM.


#21 Abra

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Posted 23 August 2006 - 09:31 PM

The salt inhibits the growth of algae and scummy stuff in the water.

#22 Mallet

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Posted 24 August 2006 - 04:50 AM

As mentioned upthread, a saturated brine also helps keep the humidity at 70%
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#23 tristar

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Posted 24 August 2006 - 09:20 PM

As mentioned upthread, a saturated brine also helps keep the humidity at 70%

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And that does mean saturated! I used a locally available block salt which comes in pyramid shapes about three inches tall, I have found that once the salt is saturated the blocks become water logged and actually help in transferring the moisture to the atmosphere in the refrigerator as they stick up above the water about two inches. Saves having to use a container which has a large suface area of water!
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#24 dougal

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Posted 25 August 2006 - 10:57 AM

As mentioned upthread, a saturated brine also helps keep the humidity at 70%

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And that does mean saturated! I used a locally available block salt which comes in pyramid shapes about three inches tall, I have found that once the salt is saturated the blocks become water logged and actually help in transferring the moisture to the atmosphere in the refrigerator as they stick up above the water about two inches. Saves having to use a container which has a large suface area of water!

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As Tristar implies, people should be saying "wet salt" rather than "saturated brine". You should have solid salt above the liquid surface. (Specifically, you might need it for bringing the humidity *down* to 75%.)

If your problem is just raising the humidity towards 70%, then its not nearly so critical.

The chiller element in the fridge knocks out moisture as condensation (potentially frost). So it is dehumidifying, whenever the fridge is actively cooling. A nice large surface area dish of water or brine (and a little air movement) will compensate for the condensation loss and raise the humidity back up again.

However - if (when) the temperature outside the fridge is 15C/60F or less, (as in cold seasons in an outhouse, garage or maybe cellar) then the fridge won't need to cool things, so the motor won't run, so there won't be any moisture being knocked out as condensation.
Then the damp salami (or whatever) will bring the humidity up and up, to somewhere likely in the 90's% RH.
This is where the salt can most obvoiusly be needed to act as a de-humidifier.
If you have just saturated brine, and it takes in more water, it won't be saturated any more, and so will equilibrate at an RH higher than 75%.
What makes it worse is that the unsaturated brine forms a dilute surface layer, floating on the denser saturated brine, so that the RH control point shoots up very quickly.
Excess salt, at the surface, will dissolve in the 'new' water and keep the brine saturated, even as it controls a damp atmosphere down to 75%.

It is worth noting that even a saturated Sodium Chloride solution will control towards a 75% RH, (at the temperatures in question), and that is slightly higher than that recommended. However that is the lowest control point that salt can give you. Other chemical compounds give other possibilities, but there's nothing as convenient and cheap and close to the 60-70% ideal as plain salt.

Tristar's point, about the solid salt increasing the surface area in contact with the air, and hence the 'power' of the control, is an important bonus.

So, the take-home message is that "wet salt" will exert a controlling influence towards 75% RH from both sides, whereas "brine" (even saturated brine) will humidify quite well, but plain brine is no good at de-humidifying.

I think that the book's single sentence on this topic (on Page 175), could usefully be amplified in the Second Edition.
"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

#25 Bombdog

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Posted 26 August 2006 - 01:48 PM

Removd two items from the curing chamber today.

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A Genoa salame. I really like this one!

And LOOK!, I've finally got mold, and good mold at that!

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This is a Coppa, although using large chunks from the shoulder portion(as Jason described long ago). I wasn't brave enough to try to stuff the entire piece into the casing. This picture doesn't really show the mold that well, but it's a nice fine white thing.

Curious, it only formed on the 4 sticks of coppa and not on ANY of the other meats in the box (???)
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"Got what backwards?" I ask.
"What if chicken tastes like rattlesnake?" My son, the Einstein of the family.


#26 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 26 August 2006 - 01:53 PM

That's great-looking stuff, Dave. That coppa is just obscene. Congrats!

I love Genoa salami. Which recipe did you use?

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#27 Bombdog

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Posted 26 August 2006 - 02:03 PM

That's great-looking stuff, Dave.  That coppa is just obscene.  Congrats!

I love Genoa salami.  Which recipe did you use?

=R=

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Thanks Ron.

I didn't use a specific recipe, just put it together after doing a bit of Google research. It's basically 25 % fat, 50 % beef and 25% (give or take a bit) of pork shoulder, minced garlic and pepper corns. There is a nice slightly sour flavor, but not as much spice as I'd like. In the future I'll add some red pepper flakes.

Edited by Bombdog, 26 August 2006 - 02:03 PM.

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.


#28 jmolinari

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Posted 27 August 2006 - 03:15 PM

Dave, nice looking stuff. Coppa is 1 piece, not multiple chunks. I don't know what you made, but it looks very tasty:)

#29 francois

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Posted 27 August 2006 - 04:19 PM

Just had a very nice meal (not exactly fast food nor diet food...). I smoked a kielbasa (p.163) this afternoon. Ate it on buns (from Peter Reinhart's book), with dill pickles (p. 71) and mustard. Yum!!!! Should start brewing beer...

The sausage was rather easy to do but a bit more time consuming that I expected. I used the kitchenAid stuffer but next time I will probably use a pastry bag - feeding the stuffing through the tube is a pain in the ***.

#30 jeniac42

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Posted 28 August 2006 - 11:59 AM

Just wanted to pop in and say I'm still planning to do some curing from Charcuterie. I meant to do things over the summer but I've been in and out of the hospital for the past two months and haven't been able to do so.

In good news, I found a source for pork belly, so once I get back on my feet I'll be makin' bacon.
Jennie