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Cooking & Curing from "Charcuterie": Part 5

Charcuterie Cookbook

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541 replies to this topic

#421 jimk

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 06:36 AM

Since we're on the topic of bacon ... I've got a couple of batches curing in the fridge right now and have been curious about Ruhlman's recipe. Can anyone tell me why he instructs that the bacon be roasted off immediately after curing, prior to packaging? Seems counterintuitive to me - with other meats I'd never dream of cooking something twice, and commercially available bacons are all raw. The first couple of batches I've made have been maple cured and I've just sauteed slices as needed or put them straight in the freezer after curing ... Can anyone explain the rationale for roasting the large piece?

BTW, my smallish NY apartment (a 6th floor walkup) isn't very accomodating of smoking equipment so we're talking fresh bacon here.

#422 FoodMan

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 08:44 AM

Since we're on the topic of bacon ... I've got a couple of batches curing in the fridge right now and have been curious about Ruhlman's recipe. Can anyone tell me why he instructs that the bacon be roasted off immediately after curing, prior to packaging?  Seems counterintuitive to me - with other meats I'd never dream of cooking something twice, and commercially available bacons are all raw. The first couple of batches I've made have been maple cured and I've just sauteed slices as needed or put them straight in the freezer after curing ... Can anyone explain the rationale for roasting the large piece?

BTW, my smallish NY apartment (a 6th floor walkup) isn't very accomodating of smoking equipment so we're talking fresh bacon here.

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I just made another batch this weekend of fantastic smoked bacon from Neiman Ranch pork (About 20 lbs total). As I've been doing from the get go, I cold smoked them. I am not sure why Ruhlman asks for the meat to be cooked. I just never cook it.

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#423 kaatje

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 08:50 AM

Just tasted my first bacon. It's excellent! For perfection it needs a little bit more salt and a bit less sugar. But the smokiness is wonderful. All in all not bad for a first attempt. Thank you all very much for answering my questions and letting me in on your knowledge.

#424 phong

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 02:36 PM

Anybody know where to get DC Curing Salt #2 in Seattle?

#425 A Patric

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 05:44 PM

Thanks, Chris, for the thorough "report from the field."  Detailed information like that is incredibly valuable as we all work on our projects, in our separate locations.

Today I talked to a man who's been making sausage for decades at Paulina Market here in Chicago.  He was a font of information.  It was very cool.  Prompted by my inquisitive companion, I asked him about the sausage "spider lines" we've been discussing here, throughout the thread.  He referred to them as "whiskers" and said, without hesitation, that they should not be there.  But, he also said that they have nothing to do with any part of the actual sausage-making process.  Sometimes, that's just how the casings come from the processor.  But, they're not supposed to be that way.  Not exactly a bad batch, but something along those lines . . . a QC lapse, perhaps.

=R=

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I know that I am replying to a two-year-old post, but I have just finished reading the first 16 pages of this thread, and I have noticed how early on it was theorized that the whiskers were due to the meat being too cold, and perhaps not filling the casing fully. Later, someone suggested that they were remnants of veins that had surrounded the casing and not due to the filling. Well, I can say that a couple of years ago I had done some reading about the issue online, and here is what I found: http://www.dewied.co...uble_fresh.html

Threads of connective tissue or whiskers visible on sausage. Hog casings processed with a knife to separate them from connective tissue during production, often have threads of fatty connective tissue left on the inside curve of the casing. These white threads vary in length. On fresh sausage they are most visible immediately after stuffing sausage but become translucent and are almost unnoticed after the sausage takes on its bloom. DeWied has REAL™ brand hand pulled hog casings that do not have threads of connective tissue or whiskers. DeWied’s FRESHLINK™ casings also offer whisker free appearance but added strength and long strands of a knife cut casing.


In other words, it isn't something "wrong" with the casings, it is just that if you buy the hand-pulled casings, you can get them without the connective tissue whiskers. As mentioned above, and as I'm sure you have all noticed, since the whiskers are quite fatty, they virtually melt away during cooking. There is nothing to be worried about, and they certainly don't signify that something is wrong with the filling--too cold or otherwise.

One thing to note is that the knife-cut casings are actually stronger, and have less risk of tearing. See here: http://www.alliedken...l/howtos/key/17

What is the difference between hand pulled and knife cut casings - North American hand pulled casings do not have threads of connective tissue on the outside (Called whiskers). They are delicate and usually have shorter strands than knife cut. They may have more holes or weak spots. Knife cut casings have the small threads of connective tissue (Whiskers). They have an extra membrane for strength. Their strands are usually longer and have fewer holes. The threads of connective tissue on knife cut casings will melt off on smoked or cooked sausage.


So, the moral of the story is not to worry about the whiskers, they actually result in stronger casings, but if they do bother you, then look for hand-pulled casings.

Best,

Alan

#426 Chris Amirault

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 06:10 PM

What a great stack of information! Thanks for tracking it down. The point about stronger casings really makes sense to me; the "cleaner" ones I've gotten at Whole Foods have broken more often than the Butcher Packer ones I've had.
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#427 Abra

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Posted 20 March 2008 - 01:31 AM

Could someone do me a huge favor? I'm in France without my book, and I need to make a fish terrine for next week. The shrimp terrine with salmon inlay would be perfect. I've made it before, way back on page 62 of this thread, and I'd love to be able to make it again and amaze the French. Does anyone have a spare 15 minutes to type up and PM me the recipe? A free dinner in France awaits whoever is kind enough to help me out!

Edited by Abra, 20 March 2008 - 03:19 AM.


#428 Stuckey

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Posted 20 March 2008 - 01:48 AM

Could someone do me a huge favor?  I'm in France without my book, and I need to make a fish terrine for next week.  The shrimp terrine with salmon inlay would be perfect.  I've made it before, way back on page 62 of this thread, and I'd love to be able to maike it again and amaze the French.  Does anyone have a spare 15 minutes to type up and PM me the recipe?  A free dinner in France awaits whoever is kind enough to help me out!

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I'd be happy to do it. Got the book in front of me right now.

Edited to add: Done. PM sent to Abra.

Edited by Stuckey, 20 March 2008 - 02:03 AM.


#429 Abra

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Posted 20 March 2008 - 03:23 AM

Holy smokes, a winner in only 17 minutes! An American recipe sent by someone in Australia to someone in France in a quarter of an hour. Totally awesome.

And now that Stuckey has done me this really nice favor, if you haven't yet made this terrine do yourself a favor and try it. It's gorgeous, easy, and perfect for warm weather.

#430 A Patric

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Posted 20 March 2008 - 07:22 PM

HI all,

I have been absent from this thread for a long time (maybe two years almost), and have only caught up to page 23, but still, I figured that I'd let everyone know what I'm up to.

Today I started a guanciale after having received my order of juniper berries. I'm using a modified version of the pancetta recipe in Charcuterie. Instead of the full amount of brown sugar, I used part brown sugar and part dextrose.

Over the next month I'll be working on the following, also from the book:

-Drohman's pork belly confit, which I made once before, and which was one of the best things I have ever eaten in my life

-smoked maple bacon

-saucisson sec

I have also made the bacon before, which was excellent, but have yet to delve into the world of dry-cured sausages. I just purchased some beef middles from Butcher Packer for the saucisson.

I'll post some updates, and maybe some photos, once I have finished the first item.

Best,

Alan

#431 jimk

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Posted 21 March 2008 - 01:46 PM

Since we're on the topic of bacon ... I've got a couple of batches curing in the fridge right now and have been curious about Ruhlman's recipe. Can anyone tell me why he instructs that the bacon be roasted off immediately after curing, prior to packaging?  Seems counterintuitive to me - with other meats I'd never dream of cooking something twice, and commercially available bacons are all raw. The first couple of batches I've made have been maple cured and I've just sauteed slices as needed or put them straight in the freezer after curing ... Can anyone explain the rationale for roasting the large piece?

BTW, my smallish NY apartment (a 6th floor walkup) isn't very accomodating of smoking equipment so we're talking fresh bacon here.

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Since no answers to my above question here, I asked Ruhlman directly ... indeed, he says no real reason other than tradition (bacon was traditionally hot smoked) and he copped to having some raw bacon in his own freezer ...

#432 A Patric

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Posted 21 March 2008 - 07:11 PM

Having just trimmed my belly into one 5 lb bacon piece, and into enough pieces for Drohman's pork belly confit--now in the cure--I find myself with extra belly. Since I am in the process of curing some guanciale at the moment I didn't feel like also doing pancetta, so I decided to cut off the fat and cube up the meat and fat for a sausage, which I have done once before with delicious, though not light, results. I am leaning towards the mexican-style chorizo which is quite different than the Bayless recipe that I have used before. However, I started thinking about the spicing, and I'm on the verge of doing a "mole-spiced" chorizo by adding cocoa powder (or shaved 100% chocolate), some raisins, even shelled pumpkin seeds, and adjusting the spicing slightly. Has anyone experimented with chocolate or cocoa powder in their sausages? I am so intrigued by the idea that I might not be able to talk myself out of it.

Any prior experience would be appreciated. I have only made it up to page 30 of this thread and don't think I'll be able to cover the other half in one evening. :wink:

Also, I was thinking of doing a canned chipotle in adobo instead of the dried powder. I thought that it might add a bit more juiciness to the sausage. Any thoughts on that are welcome too.

Best,

Alan

#433 Abra

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Posted 21 March 2008 - 11:42 PM

I've used mole sauce (homemade) in sausage and thought it was delicious. I'd be careful to crack or grind pumpkin seeds, though, if you decide to use them, to avoid having the points pierce the casing.

#434 gmerrall

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Posted 22 March 2008 - 03:13 AM

First post and all here. Looking forward to participating.


Just made my first ever batch of sausages using the basic recipe from "the book" and it went pretty darn well. My butcher recommended pork neck and I've no complaints.

I did read somewhere that you can keep the spare casings in the fridge and they'll last well but can't track down the details. Can anyone fill me in?

Cheers,
Graeme

#435 Chris Amirault

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Posted 22 March 2008 - 05:21 AM

Also, I was thinking of doing a canned chipotle in adobo instead of the dried powder.  I thought that it might add a bit more juiciness to the sausage.  Any thoughts on that are welcome too.

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Agreed on the other points -- and adding chopped chipotle in adobo works very nicely, I found.
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#436 kaatje

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Posted 22 March 2008 - 06:40 AM

First post and all here. Looking forward to participating.


Just made my first ever batch of sausages using the basic recipe from "the book" and it went pretty darn well. My butcher recommended pork neck and I've no complaints.

I did read somewhere that you can keep the spare casings in the fridge and they'll last well but can't track down the details.  Can anyone fill me in?

Cheers,
Graeme

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My butcher recommended keeping the spare casings in the fridge with a lot of salt (enough to cover) and a bit of water. I'm new at this but so far it seems to work. They're in the fridge for three weeks now and look and smell all-right. I just take what I need and rinse them well before using.

#437 Chris Amirault

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Posted 22 March 2008 - 07:23 AM

I've had Butcher Packer casings in the fridge well salted for months with no ill effects.
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#438 RichP

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Posted 22 March 2008 - 07:34 AM

Likewise, I found a small tub of hog casings packed in salt at a local grocery shop (lucky find!). I've been using them for over a year, and they are still fine. I just make sure to add a bit of salt to keep them covered when needed.

#439 A Patric

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Posted 22 March 2008 - 09:50 PM

Abra, Chris,

Thanks. I changed the book's recipe for Mexican Chorizo in this way:

Added:
1 oz of 100% chocolate
1/4 t toasted coriander
fried raisins
2/3 cup thin mole sauce that I had left over
1 toasted and powdered mulato chile, and 1 toasted and powdered ancho (instead of powder)
extra garlic (4 cloves in all)

Subbed:

toasted cumin for raw
apple cider vinegar for red wine vinegar
canned chipotle in adobo for the powder

The results are outstanding. I've made chorizo a couple of times from Bayless' recipe, and I like it a lot, but I like this one better. The flavor is more subtle and complex due to the lighter acidification of the mixture than in commercial versions or in Bayless'. This might be less authentic, but I like it better. Also--and this is important to me since I am buying excellent quality meat at a premium--the flavor of the pork really comes through well. Part of this might also be the relatively high percentage of fat since I'm using belly.

Things I would change in the next version:

more chocolate
more spice (perhaps spicier paprika or leaving in the seeds of all the chiles)
maybe another chipotle

Serving suggestions:

Tonight I used it loose with some onion, garlic, tomato and chiles all sauteed and then eaten on homemade tortillas with homemade salsa picante and pickled onions. Amazing.

Tomorrow I'll be slow-roasting some and then crisping the casing, slicing it up and eating it on some fresh tortillas with some fresh vegetables. I know that chorizo is not eaten like this traditionally, but this is one of the reasons that this recipe appeals to me. I like the idea of a Mexican-style chorizo that doesn't need to be crumbled--one that could be eaten on a sandwich, or sliced up. If it works out, I'll try and get a good photo of it.


Changing subjects...


I've had some salt-packed casings for quite a bit over a year--approaching two--and they are just fine. I think that I read on Butcher Packer that they can last up to about two years, but I would bet that they could last longer if stored properly.

Best,

Alan

#440 Chris Amirault

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Posted 24 March 2008 - 12:04 PM

Alan's creative thinking got me wondering about my bacon. I often sauté bacon with onions and so on when I'm making beans (which I do a lot), and it got me thinking about a cure using some Mexican ingredients. So I've got about 6 lbs curing now with Ruhlman's basic cure mix and 1 T each of New Mexico chile and ancho chile powder, cumin, Mexican oregano, and black pepper, plus a tsp of cinnamon and a few cloves of garlic crushed. I also have a garlic, black pepper, and rosemary cure on another slab.

I'm sold on the vacuum-sealed curing now, btw; I do it that way every time.
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#441 A Patric

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Posted 24 March 2008 - 12:37 PM

Alan's creative thinking got me wondering about my bacon. I often sauté bacon with onions and so on when I'm making beans (which I do a lot), and it got me thinking about a cure using some Mexican ingredients. So I've got about 6 lbs curing now with Ruhlman's basic cure mix and 1 T each of New Mexico chile and ancho chile powder, cumin, Mexican oregano, and black pepper, plus a tsp of cinnamon and a few cloves of garlic crushed. I also have a garlic, black pepper, and rosemary cure on another slab.

I'm sold on the vacuum-sealed curing now, btw; I do it that way every time.

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Chris,

That bacon sounds great!

By the way, what is your reasoning for liking the vacuum-sealed curing better? I'm curing my guanciale that way, and my reasoning was that it would help keep any released liquid--including all of the spices and other aromatic components--in better contact with the meat. Are there other reasons to go the vacuum route in your estimation?


Alan

#442 A Patric

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Posted 24 March 2008 - 06:33 PM

I think that I have said this before, but after having just made Jim Drohman's Pork Belly Confit again, I have to say that this is one of the best things that I have ever eaten, pork or otherwise. I don't think that the term "pork crack" is strong enough. For those of you who haven't tried this recipe, but who love pork belly, please do yourself a favor and put it on your "to do" list. Absolutely phenomenal.

By the way, it calls for 24-36 hours of curing prior to the cooking, and I have done 24 hours both times, and find it to be perfect.

Alan

#443 Kerry Beal

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Posted 24 March 2008 - 06:40 PM

I think that I have said this before, but after having just made Jim Drohman's Pork Belly Confit again, I have to say that this is one of the best things that I have ever eaten, pork or otherwise.  I don't think that the term "pork crack" is strong enough.  For those of you who haven't tried this recipe, but who love pork belly, please do yourself a favor and put it on your "to do" list.  Absolutely phenomenal.

By the way, it calls for 24-36 hours of curing prior to the cooking, and I have done 24 hours both times, and find it to be perfect. 

Alan

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Alan - point me to the recipe!

#444 A Patric

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Posted 24 March 2008 - 07:27 PM

I think that I have said this before, but after having just made Jim Drohman's Pork Belly Confit again, I have to say that this is one of the best things that I have ever eaten, pork or otherwise.  I don't think that the term "pork crack" is strong enough.  For those of you who haven't tried this recipe, but who love pork belly, please do yourself a favor and put it on your "to do" list.  Absolutely phenomenal.

By the way, it calls for 24-36 hours of curing prior to the cooking, and I have done 24 hours both times, and find it to be perfect. 

Alan

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Alan - point me to the recipe!

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Kerry,

It is on page 264 of the first edition of Charcuterie.

Edited to add:
I had the finished confit deep fried, as recommended in the book, with crusty baguette, French mustard, pickled red onions, a side of asparagus tips, and a nice red wine. It's hard to convey my level of happiness with the meal.

Alan

Edited by A Patric, 24 March 2008 - 07:31 PM.


#445 Chris Amirault

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Posted 24 March 2008 - 08:03 PM

By the way, what is your reasoning for liking the vacuum-sealed curing better?  I'm curing my guanciale that way, and my reasoning was that it would help keep any released liquid--including all of the spices and other aromatic components--in better contact with the meat.  Are there other reasons to go the vacuum route in your estimation?

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That's the big reason. In addition, with relatively small fridge, it's a good way to have, oh, 30 pounds of bacon and pancetta curing at once. You can move the packets around, distribute the cure, etc. without taking up too much space.

OK, without taking up all the space.
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#446 Pork Rind

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Posted 24 March 2008 - 08:54 PM

Anybody know where to get DC Curing Salt #2 in Seattle?

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You should be able to get it at Emerald Market Supply on 1st Ave S a couple blocks south of Safeco Field. They seem to be amused by selling to individuals in small quantities instead of their larger accounts. I think I paid two dollars for a couple pound bag. They were keen on me paying cash so as not to have to figure out how to document the sale.

#447 Chris Hennes

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Posted 25 March 2008 - 08:31 AM

I think that I have said this before, but after having just made Jim Drohman's Pork Belly Confit again, I have to say that this is one of the best things that I have ever eaten, pork or otherwise.  I don't think that the term "pork crack" is strong enough.  For those of you who haven't tried this recipe, but who love pork belly, please do yourself a favor and put it on your "to do" list.  Absolutely phenomenal.

By the way, it calls for 24-36 hours of curing prior to the cooking, and I have done 24 hours both times, and find it to be perfect. 

Alan

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I feel like I am turning into "the voice of dissent" around here... I didn't care for this confit: it was much too sweet for my tastes. Something about that combination of spices... Then again, as anyone who knows me will attest, I really have very limited tolerance for sweet things, so YMMV (and obviously does :laugh: ). I personally would have preferred just a salt and black pepper seasoning, I think.

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#448 LooseCard

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Posted 25 March 2008 - 08:43 AM

I feel like I am turning into "the voice of dissent" around here... I didn't care for this confit: it was much too sweet for my tastes. Something about that combination of spices... Then again, as anyone who knows me will attest, I really have very limited tolerance for sweet things, so YMMV (and obviously does  :laugh: ). I personally would have preferred just a salt and black pepper seasoning, I think.

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It's okay if you feel that way, but please do let us know.
My lovely wife is the 'sweets' person, and I am not.

Now, judging from the input of you both, I will definitely have to check this one out, and go easier on the 'sweets' if possible.

Thanks guys, for always providing insights. :cool:

#449 A Patric

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Posted 25 March 2008 - 05:23 PM

I think that I have said this before, but after having just made Jim Drohman's Pork Belly Confit again, I have to say that this is one of the best things that I have ever eaten, pork or otherwise.  I don't think that the term "pork crack" is strong enough.  For those of you who haven't tried this recipe, but who love pork belly, please do yourself a favor and put it on your "to do" list.  Absolutely phenomenal.

By the way, it calls for 24-36 hours of curing prior to the cooking, and I have done 24 hours both times, and find it to be perfect. 

Alan

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I feel like I am turning into "the voice of dissent" around here... I didn't care for this confit: it was much too sweet for my tastes. Something about that combination of spices... Then again, as anyone who knows me will attest, I really have very limited tolerance for sweet things, so YMMV (and obviously does :laugh: ). I personally would have preferred just a salt and black pepper seasoning, I think.

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For those of you who haven't tried it yet, it is true that Ruhlman calls the seasoning a "sweet-spice" mix, but despite this, the recipe actually has no sugar or other sweetener added to it. There is certainly a lack of pungent flavorings that probably tend to let the natural character, sweetness if you will, of the pork stand out. It may be for this reason that I find the flavor to be such a beautiful thing.

Alan

Edited by A Patric, 25 March 2008 - 05:25 PM.


#450 Brian Brenner

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Posted 26 March 2008 - 11:26 AM

Hello all...first post on this awesome thread. I've read it all and want to thank everyone for all the incredible information.
A question...I currently have some pancetta hanging in my drying room. I recently added humidifiers(after some so-so duck proscuittos and breasola due to too much outer drying) and am maintaining an average 61% humidity. In the past I have had great results drying pancetta without humidity control(about ten batches) and now, as one would expect, with more humidity it is taking waaaay longer to dry. So the question is, am I gaining anything by the extended dry time (texture or flavor development, etc.) or is it just extending my wait for pancetta. Should I pull the plug on the humidifier for pancetta or be more patient. Thanks for any and all input.





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