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Cooking & Curing from "Charcuterie": Part 5

Charcuterie Cookbook

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#121 michael_g

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Posted 13 August 2007 - 08:33 AM

michael_g :  linking collagen casings wont work. They won't stay twisted on their own like natural casings. You'll have to tie each link with a string or a hog ring clip.

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Ah...that explains why it didn't work! I'm glad to hear it's them and not me. I'd never heard of a hog ring clip before. Frankly, I'm surprised they're not called "sausage staplers".

#122 FoodMan

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Posted 13 August 2007 - 11:21 AM

michael_g :  linking collagen casings wont work. They won't stay twisted on their own like natural casings. You'll have to tie each link with a string or a hog ring clip.

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Ah...that explains why it didn't work! I'm glad to hear it's them and not me. I'd never heard of a hog ring clip before. Frankly, I'm surprised they're not called "sausage staplers".

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Yeap. I don't use collagen casings anymore after trying the real stuff. I had the same problem with linking them and mentioend it here too. You probably have to go back to the early pages of this thread to see that...maybe pages 2-5 or so...

EDIT: Actually it's all the way in page one. click Here.

Edited by FoodMan, 13 August 2007 - 11:23 AM.

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#123 Paul McMichael

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Posted 13 August 2007 - 07:56 PM

The other problem was linking.  Bits of meat get squeezed into the parts I twist.  When I cut off a link to test it (purely scientific, no personal investment or anything), the twist didn't "set" and the sausage cooked with loose ends.  I've seen kosher sausage do this before, so it may be a collagen thing.  Anyone else have any experience with collagen casings, or general linking tips?

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I have given up on collagen on anything smaller than summer sausage. Even hog rings get pushed off the end. Natural sheep casings are the way to go. I liked the texture obtained with the large die. This is the main reason that I bought the Northern Tool grinder instead of replacing my broken KA grinder attachment.

Paul

#124 Paul McMichael

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Posted 13 August 2007 - 08:01 PM

I use a butcher knife (12") partially because I like my bacon thick. However, I am thinking of an electric knife because when you slice 12 pieces it can be tiring and slippery. I am also thinking about getting a Hobart slicer, but that is a pipe dream!

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Thanks for the replies -- I think I will try bribing my butcher with a small (as small as possible) sample in exchange for use of his slicer.

Paul

#125 michael_g

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Posted 13 August 2007 - 08:07 PM

I have given up on collagen on anything smaller than summer sausage. Even hog rings get pushed off the end. Natural sheep casings are the way to go. I liked the texture obtained with the large die. This is the main reason that I bought the Northern Tool grinder instead of replacing my broken KA grinder attachment.

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Kosher sheep casings would be great, but we couldn't find anyone supplying them around us (Essex and Bergen Counties, NJ). I'll be stuffing in hog casings once I move to Philly, but for now we've got another 12 feet to go through. Such a tough life, right?

I didn't notice a difference in definition between the lamb (small die) and the beef (medium die). From the outside you can see that there are bigger chunks of fat within the sausage, but they seemed similar once cooked. I wasn't checking, though. In any case, I'm making some merguez tomorrow night, so I'll cook up one of the boerewors alongside it to compare.

I haven't tried using the KA, but isn't the Northern Tool grinder great? We went through all of the diced meat in two minutes!

#126 joesan

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 03:37 AM

Does anybody have a recommendation for a good grinder available in the UK? Preferably one that you have personal experience of.

#127 joesan

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Posted 16 August 2007 - 01:54 AM

Does anybody have a recommendation for a good grinder available in the UK? Preferably one that you have personal experience of.

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Nothing on that one :sad: ... oh well here's another question -

Can I cure my pork belly (for Pancetta) in a vacuum bag? If so do I need to leave some air in there and can I leave it in the curing liquid for the full two weeks it is curing?

#128 charlesh1609

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Posted 18 August 2007 - 12:22 AM

Hey folks:

I've read the 1st chapter of Charcuterie and will be buying my belly tomorrow for bacon. However, there is one thing I haven't seen anywhere in the book.

Does anyone have a good Hot Link sausage recipe? Dad used to take me to the Home of Good BBQ in Seattle as kid. Sadly, the owner, Rev. and my dad have both passed on. The kids running the show now seem to have lost something in the translation. But I still have fond memories of bbq'd hot link and white bread sandwiches, potatoe salad and a icy cold grape soda. Oh, and topped off by a slice of sweet potatoe pie! Really good times. Anyway, I would like to take a shot at personal hot links. The store bought brands don't quite measure up. Thanks all.

#129 jmolinari

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Posted 18 August 2007 - 03:41 AM

I got this recipe from a sausage mailing list. They were good, but so blazingly hot that i couldn't eat much more than 1/2 in a sitting. IT is pretty famous on the web, as Bigwheel's hotlinks.

Give it a try.

6-7 lbs. Boston Butt
1 bottle beer (a dark ale is best)
2 T. coarse ground black pepper
2 T. crushed red pepper
2 T. Cayenne
2 T. Hungarian Paprika
3 T. Morton's Tender Quick
2 T. Whole Mustard Seeds
1/4 cup minced fresh garlic
1 T. granulated garlic
1 T. MSG
1 t. ground bay leaves
1 t. whole anise seeds
1 t. coriander
1 t. ground thyme


Mix all the spices, cure, and garlic into the beer and place in refrigerator
while you cut up the meat to fit in the grinder. Pour the spiced water over
the meat and mix well. Run meat and spice mixture through the fine plate and
mix again. Stuff into medium hog casings. Smoke or slow grill till they are
done.

jason

#130 dougal

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Posted 18 August 2007 - 08:55 AM

Does anybody have a recommendation for a good grinder available in the UK? Preferably one that you have personal experience of.

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Nothing on that one :sad: ... oh well here's another question -

Can I cure my pork belly (for Pancetta) in a vacuum bag? If so do I need to leave some air in there and can I leave it in the curing liquid for the full two weeks it is curing?

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1/ I have a mincer from Lidl. It was cheap. Cheaper than the attachment for the Kenwood. On/Off not variable speed (but with reverse!) Claimed 550w motor. Doesn't handle nasty bits. But it minces. Overall probably no worse than many at twice the price. And it has a 3 year warranty. IMHO its too damn hard (for my skills) to use such a device as a stuffer. Haven't tried extruding pastry for biscuits or the kibbeh/kubbe extruder. Check quickly if you want one though - this year's offering was a week or more back (my branch had a couple left last time I looked).

2/ Vacuum curing. Said to speed up curing, ask a sous-vide person why (start by asking them about marinating...) For pancetta, it might help with the problem of achieving a perfect roll - and curing to the centre (if its going to go mouldy, that's where the problem will come). For that, I'd start the cure (so there was some exuded juice), then try and seal it, so that the vacuum squished the brine into any voids (rather than letting the juices near the seal).
The essence of Pancetta being that it is dried, you should still be hanging it for a fortnight after it comes out of the bag. As to whether it needs the full seven (or nine) days in the cure as the book suggests - I'm not qualified to say.
Ziploc-type bags are convenient because they shouldn't leak - yet you can get in to poke the stuff, add extras, etc. Some people even reuse them. I'd like a source for larger sizes than I can find in the local shops.
"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

#131 alexthecook

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Posted 21 August 2007 - 08:48 AM

Ok, I bough the book and am getting excited about this. But before I start investing some relatively serious dough (I'm thinking of getting a small refrigerated wine cellar to hang my product ---btw, will this work?), I'd like to know, seriously, how many of you consider that what you've produced is superior or at least equal to good, store-bought product (and I'm excluding here bacon, sausages and smoked salmon, which I know is probably superior... I'm particularly interested in pepperone, saucisson sec, etc.).

Thanks!

#132 joesan

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Posted 21 August 2007 - 09:18 AM

Alex - I can't speak to the quality of the salamis etc. as I am also at the planning stage for a curing chamber. I am planning on using a small fridge/freezer modified to the right temperature and rigged to inject humidity to the right level. I would think that your wine cellar idea would work but there may be more cost effective ways of doing it (e.g. Old fridge, thermoswitch, humidifier would work great). I can definitely support your theory that the other items are very good when home made. My Pancettas and Guanciales have turned out wonderfully so far. Based on the uptick in quality and flavour of the bacontype items I'd imagine that there is great scope for improving on the shop bought charcuterie. Especially since I have tasted fantastic home made items from French and Italian makers. There are also significant economies to be made as well as the ability to control the quality of everything that goes in there. For me that means traditional breed organic pig for example.

Dougal - many thanks for your input. I appreciate it. I am currently curing my pancetta in a vacuum bag and it seems to be working very well. I'd recommend it to anyone running out of fridge space as it takes a lot less room than storing your curing items in a more traditional plastic container.

Edited by joesan, 21 August 2007 - 09:19 AM.


#133 jmolinari

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Posted 21 August 2007 - 09:49 AM

Alex, a wine cellar would work, as long as you have some control over humidity levels.

As far as quality...it is generally better or on par with stuff available in the US, and far far cheaper, but not as good as stuff in Italy. If i still lived in Italy, it wouldn't even cross my mind to make my own cured meats.

#134 alexthecook

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Posted 21 August 2007 - 10:12 AM

Thanks guys!

Since I live in a condo downtown, I don't have extra space to put a tricked out fridge. I was thinking that a small wine cellar would fit nicely in my kitchen.... I was thinking wine cellar because I imagine that dorm-sized fridges do not have a temperature range within the prescribed recommendations (circa 60 degreees)..am I wrong?

Re: humidity control, I was thinking of putting a pan of salt water at the bottom and a humdity reader...and opening the door if it's too humid..:P is that too amateurish to work?

#135 Chris Amirault

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Posted 21 August 2007 - 10:16 AM

The pan of salted water works -- see my peperone uptopic (best I ever had, btw) -- but it is also very hard to control.
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#136 jmolinari

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Posted 21 August 2007 - 10:23 AM

Salt water pan works, it is just slow to react to changes. It will work even to keep humidity down, not just to raise it. It absorbs excess moisture in the air if you have a saturated salt solution with extra salt in it.

#137 Anna Friedman Herlihy

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Posted 21 August 2007 - 10:58 AM

Alex,
I was thinking the same thing and a couple months ago was able to purchase a good-sized (it's about 3 1/2 feet tall) used wine fridge off of Craig's list for $100 specifically to turn into a curing chamber. Still haven't gotten it up and running for charcuterie, but it does hold temp at 55-60 degrees perfectly (been keeping beer in there as of late--don't like my beer super cold). Seemed easier to me than modifying a dorm fridge or some other to keep the proper temp.

Although keep in mind if it has a glass door (like ours do--we also have one for wine), you will need to cover it with something to keep the light out (apparently light is bad for fat). I'm planning on making a curtain, so I can pull it aside and check on things without opening the door, but I'm sure some heavy paper (like poster board) taped over the glass would work too.

#138 alexthecook

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Posted 21 August 2007 - 03:17 PM

I'm always moved at how amazing the people on this forum are. Thank you so much!

After taking Anna's cue, I looked up wine cellars on craigslist and found this beaut for 225$:

GE Profile Wine Cooler

And crazily enough, the manual states that it maintains "ideal humidity levels" to store wine. My research indicates that this would be between 60 and 70%...

Is this too good to be true? Should I jump on it?

#139 dougal

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Posted 21 August 2007 - 03:28 PM

The pan of salted water works -- see my peperone uptopic (best I ever had, btw) -- but it is also very hard to control.

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Salt water pan works, it is just slow to react to changes. It will work even to keep humidity down, not just to raise it. It absorbs excess moisture in the air if you have a saturated salt solution with extra salt in it.

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Its more effective if you use it as "wet salt" rather than "salt water"... :smile:
"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

#140 jmolinari

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Posted 21 August 2007 - 03:37 PM

Dougal, yes, which is why i said a "saturated salt solution with extra salt in it", which would leave you with wet salt :)

Alex, if it maintains those levels that would be perfect. But remember when you introduct wet meats into it, the RH % with rise, and hopefully the fridge will bring it back to 60-70. Wine bottles don't give off humidity like meat does.

I wonder how it controls humidity...i can't imagine it has a humidity generator if it is low...

#141 AllanSantos

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Posted 21 August 2007 - 08:54 PM

Hello everyone,

This is my first post here. Tonight I made the breakfast sausage (Da Bomb) out of Charcuterie. It represents my first attempt at sausage making. I only ran into one problem; I didn't clean every last bit of sinew, so at one point the meat smeared. I cleaned out the grinder and quickly checked the rest of the batch as it was being put through the grinder. No problems after that. After my sample taste I could only agree with it's name. It trully was da bomb. I'm excited to explore more but I need to get a suasage stuffer before I continue with sausages. I too had the idea of a wine fridge am will be getting one of those to use as a curing chamber. I took some pics on my camera phone so that I could post them here, but they really didn't turn out too well.

Can't wait for breakfast,

Allan

#142 dougal

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Posted 22 August 2007 - 04:09 AM

Dougal, yes, which is why i said a "saturated salt solution with extra salt in it", which would leave you with wet salt :)
...

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Indeed, but it would be clearer for others if we explicitly stated that the excess undissolved salt really needs to be piled up to a level above that of the liquid's surface to make this work as an effective de-humidifier.

Excess salt merely in the bottom of a dish of liquid is of little use.
The problem is that when the liquid takes in moisture from the air (de-humidifies), the surface layer becomes unsaturated and so less dense. The less dense unsaturated layer will happily float on the saturated brine - so the solution can stay stratified, even with undissolved crystals at the bottom of the dish.
Now the unsaturated surface layer would equilibrate with the air above it at a humidity higher than the 80% humidity above a saturated solution - and 80+% is not what we want!
Salt crystals at the surface keep the surface layer a saturated salt solution, and so keep the control point no higher than 80%.

So one answer is to use a big pile of wet salt, not just a solution with some excess crystals at the bottom.
This is much easier than arranging for constant stirring of the salt solution!
"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

#143 alexthecook

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 09:02 AM

Ok, I'm really becoming ambitious with this. I've found on craigslist another cellar, this one for 160 bottles:

Domestic CS 160

It's normally quite expensive (over 3k), but it's significantly reduced (4 years old).

I would like to use it for charcuterie, since it explicitly maintains humidity levels between 50 and 70%, but obviously, would not want to spoil the cellar for when I'll eventually want to use it to store wine.

So my question is the following: does the hanging of charcuterie to dry create a lot of strong, lingering odors? Is it likely these would stick inside the cellar forever and thus contaminate the bottles I could put in there? Or conversely, is it so faint that I could store bottles at the same time as I'm drying charcuterie?

Thanks yet again!

#144 jmolinari

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 12:29 PM

No, i think you could easily clean it out, just some bleach spray and letting it air out and you SHOULD be good to go...but i don't know.

I'd also like to know how it keeps humidity levels.

#145 alexthecook

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 12:36 PM

According to the Dometic website (re humidity ):

"Thanks to its original evaporator design, the Dometic Wine cellar uses a large size fin package, which prevents ice build up. The natural air circulation loads itself with condensation humidity when passing through the fins."

Does that make sense?

#146 Paul McMichael

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 03:06 PM

Does that make sense?

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The low energy cooling unit does not dry the air as much as regular refer. There are no humidity controls. The salt water plus salt still sounds like a good idea.

Paul

#147 alexthecook

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 04:44 PM

Thanks Paul!

So am I to understand that their claim that:

"Dometic manufactures Wine Cellars especially designed for wine keeping. A genuine Wine Cellar must answer certain basic criteria:

Constant temperature at around 12°C
Hygrometry sustained between 50 and 70%
No vibration
Protection against light "
(link)

is semi-bogus?

#148 Paul McMichael

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 08:13 PM

Thanks Paul!

So am I to understand that their claim that:

Hygrometry sustained between 50 and 70%

is semi-bogus?

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There is no water connection ergo no way to raise humidity and no drain ergo no way to lower humidity. The cooling system does have the advantage of not drying the air by forming ice around the chiller then in the frost free cycle draining that water to a pan outside of the box. Their pan seems to be inside the box. I would use the term "salesmans puffery" to be trusted as much as a used car salesman's claim that this is the best used car ever!

Paul

#149 charlesh1609

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Posted 28 August 2007 - 03:57 PM

I got this recipe from a sausage mailing list. They were good, but so blazingly hot that i couldn't eat much more than 1/2 in a sitting. IT is pretty famous on the web, as Bigwheel's hotlinks.

Give it a try.

6-7 lbs. Boston Butt
1 bottle beer (a dark ale is best)
jason

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Hey Jason!

Dammit, I keep trying to make this only to discover that the beer bottle is suddenly and mysteriously empty. DARN IT!

#150 jmolinari

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Posted 28 August 2007 - 06:18 PM

ahahah Charles...that's why you open 2 and quickly pour 1 in:)

Alex, sounds like that fridge functions like my small dorm size fridge, which has cooling coils inside the fridge which just cool the air by conduction, but since they are inside the fridge, the humidity doesn't get pulled out of the air and condensed outside.





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