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Cooking & Curing from "Charcuterie": Part 1

Charcuterie Cookbook

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#331 snowangel

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Posted 11 March 2006 - 01:38 PM

I am the proud owner of 2 bellies -- each just over 12 pounds, and 1/4 pound of pink salt. The bellies were $1.19/lb. and the pink salt was a buck.

I'm hoping to get these bellies thawed enough so that I can pry them apart and stick one of them back in the freezer.

Bacon, here we come!
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#332 dougal

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Posted 11 March 2006 - 02:44 PM

I'm hoping to get these bellies thawed enough so that I can pry them apart and stick one of them back in the freezer.

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I'm sure you know that the ideal way to do that is patiently, in the coldest part of your fridge, so that none of the meat actually gets above 4C, 39F...
"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

#333 Abra

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Posted 11 March 2006 - 04:07 PM

Drat. My duck breasts are salted and wrapped and I hung them in the garage yesterday. Today I finally got a hygrometer, and while it's a steady 59 degrees in there, the humidity is only 45%. Hey, this should prove to you that it doesn't rain all the time in Seattle!

I have a big bowl of water under where the duck is hanging, but in an open garage at that low temp, I have no hope that it can really affect the humidity. We're going to be making a box for dry curing, but in the meantime, I have these duck breasts already started and am (semi) worried that they'll dry out on the surface, rot inside, and we'll all get botulism....would misting the cheesecloth in which they're wrapped be a terrible idea?

#334 snowangel

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Posted 11 March 2006 - 07:14 PM

I'm hoping to get these bellies thawed enough so that I can pry them apart and stick one of them back in the freezer.

View Post

I'm sure you know that the ideal way to do that is patiently, in the coldest part of your fridge, so that none of the meat actually gets above 4C, 39F...

View Post


I stuck the box in the garage (38 degrees F) for about 1/2 hour, and since the bellies were packed skin on skin, the peeled apart nicely. One is in the freezer, the other in the fridge, slowly defrosting, awaiting a cure. I even remembered to get the oversized zip locks when I was at Target.
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#335 snowangel

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Posted 11 March 2006 - 09:28 PM

Getting those belly halves in the zip lock bags is a bitch. The turning, tending and smoking should be a piece of cake in comparison.
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#336 hwilson41

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Posted 12 March 2006 - 07:15 AM

Getting those belly halves in the zip lock bags is a bitch.  The turning, tending and smoking should be a piece of cake in comparison.

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What size zip locks are you using? I used the 2 gallon size, and the 5+ lb halves of bellies mentioned here were a bit small so I had to use clips to reduce the effective bag size. Maybe it is the difference in thickness. I'll know more shortly. The bellies are coming out of the cure today, drying out in the fridge for 24 hours to develop the pellicle, and into the smoker tomorrow. I can hardly wait :raz: :biggrin:.
"My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne." John Maynard Keynes

#337 woodburner

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Posted 12 March 2006 - 07:36 AM

Vist your local ice house or save 25lb ice bags. These bags work great for marinating large pieces of meat.

woodburner

#338 Pallee

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Posted 12 March 2006 - 11:26 AM

Here's my bacon from the smoker to the oven. It's in my belly now, and I'm happy! I smoked it for 7 hours. The first 5 cold with ice packs in the smoker and it was very cold outside as well. Then moved it into my hot smoker for 2 more hours until it reached 150'. Posted Image
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#339 Anna N

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Posted 12 March 2006 - 12:47 PM

Here's my bacon from the smoker to the oven. It's in my belly now, and I'm happy! 
....

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Awesome looking bacon!
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#340 snowangel

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Posted 13 March 2006 - 09:17 PM

What size zip locks are you using?  I used the 2 gallon size, and the 5+ lb halves of bellies mentioned here were a bit small so I had to use clips to reduce the effective bag size.  Maybe it is the difference in thickness.  I'll know more shortly.  The bellies are coming out of the cure today, drying out in the fridge for 24 hours to develop the pellicle, and into the smoker tomorrow.  I can hardly wait :raz: :biggrin:.

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I'm using 2 gallon zip locks. I put each belly half in its own bag. Should they be together?
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#341 Abra

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Posted 13 March 2006 - 09:52 PM

Today I made the Duck Confit Rillettes, with confit that I put up before Thanksgiving. I did tweak it a bit from the recipe, because we thought it was a little bland. I added a couple of tablespoons of orangecello, for a sort of duck a l'orange effect, as well as some freshly grated nutmeg and a hint of ground celery seed.

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the tasting shot

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the art shot.

I'll serve this tomorrow, and I expect that it will improve after a night of rest in the fridge.

#342 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 10:51 AM

What size zip locks are you using?  I used the 2 gallon size, and the 5+ lb halves of bellies mentioned here were a bit small so I had to use clips to reduce the effective bag size.  Maybe it is the difference in thickness.  I'll know more shortly.  The bellies are coming out of the cure today, drying out in the fridge for 24 hours to develop the pellicle, and into the smoker tomorrow.  I can hardly wait :raz: :biggrin:.

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I'm using 2 gallon zip locks. I put each belly half in its own bag. Should they be together?

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I'm would think not. My guess is that it's best to have the cure within the bag be able to flow freely around the entire belly and not be obstructed in any way by another belly. This is how I've handled my curing up to this point.

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#343 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 10:53 AM

Looks great, Abra. I can almost taste it from here. What's up next for you on the Charcuterie front?

=R=
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#344 hwilson41

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 10:55 AM

I'm using 2 gallon zip locks.  I put each belly half in its own bag.  Should they be together?

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I'm with Ron on this one. I cut my belly into halves and put each in a 2 gallon zip lock. Still didn't produce as much liquid as I expected, but mine were pretty thick. More on this shortly as soon as I get the pics uploaded.
"My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne." John Maynard Keynes

#345 Abra

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 11:19 AM

Now I have my belly, a jowl, and back fat, plus the pink salt and the #2 cure have arrived. All I lack is 2 gallon ziplocks, which I'll get today. Next - bacon for sure, maybe pancetta, lardo..it's so hard to choose!

#346 snowangel

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 11:28 AM

Now I have my belly, a jowl, and back fat, plus the pink salt and the #2 cure have arrived.  All I lack is 2 gallon ziplocks, which I'll get today.  Next - bacon for sure, maybe pancetta, lardo..it's so hard to choose!

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Those damned 2-gallon zip locks were harder to find than I expected. Target.

Today was flip day, so they have been consolidated!
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#347 Pallee

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 12:05 PM

I just finished making my second batch of peperone. I used 2 grams of bactoferm in this batch instead of 20. I also used only my coarse plate to grind as I am looking for a less smooth texture. The casings I have came packed in salt and I've had the problem Ronnie mentioned with them being hard to slip on the horn, after giving them an hour to soak. So after reading about him soaking them for a couple days, I gave mine an overnight soak and what a difference. Worked like a charm. Great tip!

The only problem with my batch of bacon is that suddenly 5 pounds isn't very much. It is so good I want to put it in everything as well as give it to friends. My smokers can hold so much more that next time I think I'll make 15 pounds, at least.

#348 bavila

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 02:46 PM

Drat.  My duck breasts are salted and wrapped and I hung them in the garage yesterday.  Today I finally got a hygrometer, and while it's a steady 59 degrees in there, the humidity is only 45%.  Hey, this should prove to you that it doesn't rain all the time in Seattle!

View Post

It may be a little late for this suggestion, but could you use a cool mist humidifier with a hygrastat? We use these all winter for respiratory comfort. This is basically it. Seems like it would work for your purposes as well.
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#349 Jamie Valvo

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 02:46 PM

I use a cryo vac bag and put one section of belly each. The brine works great this way and penetrates deep into the belly in a realitivly short period of time. I then roll and hang my pancetta in the cooler approx. 40F. After a week in the brine and 2 -3 weeks hanging they are all set to go.

#350 edsel

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 04:35 PM

I just finished making my second batch of peperone. I used 2 grams of bactoferm in this batch instead of 20. I also used only my coarse plate to grind as I am looking for a less smooth texture.  View Post


Pallee, did you reduce the Bactoferm because it seems wasteful to use so much or because the previous batch was too sour? If the latter, I think you need to adjust the amount of dextrose and/or milk powder in the mix. The amount of available sugar is going to determine how "fermented" the sausage turns out.

For what it's worth, the Bactoferm spec sheet says to use a minimum of 1/4 package. They're obviously geared toward commercial-scale production. I wonder how little starter culture you can get away with. Guess you're going to find out. :wink: :smile:

#351 jmolinari

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 05:24 PM

I've used as little as 0.5g of bactoferm, and the salame acidified fine in 24hrs.

#352 Pallee

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 05:55 PM

I cut down the amount of Bactoferm because it seems so wasteful to use 10 times the amount of a fairly expensive ingredient. The package insert said that the 25 grams would treat 200 pounds of meat and I'm only making 5 pounds of peperone. I didn't find the taste of the first batch too sour at all. I'll let you know how this batch turns out.

#353 edsel

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 05:57 PM

Jmolinari, Good to know that a small amount of culture is enough to inoculate a small batch. I suspected as much, but the manufacturer's spec sheet sounds kind of scary.

I suspect that there's a strong measure of "CYA" in the Bactoferm specifications. :wink:

#354 James Satriano

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Posted 15 March 2006 - 06:30 AM

I finished curing my bresaola last night. I used the book recipe. It weighed 30.5 oz prior to hanging and hung at 60 F and about 65% humidity for 10 days. After that time it weighed 20 oz. Color and is good deep red. No mold at all. It seems very dry on the outside and while I have only sampled a small portion, it seems overly sweet. I did rub it lightly with evoo prior to hanging but this does not seem to have been sufficient to prevent a very dry outside. I recall reading that someone puts it in casings. What kind? How do you get the meat in the casing? Anyone have any ideas about alternative curing rubs that would result in a less sweet product? Any thoughts would be appreciated.

#355 Chris Amirault

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Posted 15 March 2006 - 07:00 AM

Just took down the lop yuk I've been curing upstairs; took about ten days this time due to the thicker cut. I think that they're going to be better, too -- but we'll see soon.

Here's my bacon from the smoker to the oven. It's in my belly now, and I'm happy! 
....

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Awesome looking bacon!

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I'll say Pallee! What kind of a smoker is that?
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#356 Pontormo

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Posted 15 March 2006 - 08:07 AM

On a different note, I've tried to convince Amazon.com that Michael Ruhlman wrote the book with Brian Polcyn and that while Thomas Keller wrote the foreword, he is neither the principal author nor the author.

I was thanked for corrections that the company would make promptly.

If you click the link, you'll see the results.

A second note was met with regrets.

Edited by Pontormo, 15 March 2006 - 08:10 AM.

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The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

#357 Adam Balic

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Posted 15 March 2006 - 08:17 AM

How very foreward of them.

#358 hwilson41

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Posted 15 March 2006 - 09:02 AM

Onward and upward with bacon :biggrin:. This stuff is so good that I am amazed it is so easy. Of course, I had some very helpful ground breaking by Ronnie Suburban, for which many thanks Ron.

To the point, I started out with one large pork belly bought from an Amish farmer in southern Maryland who raises grain fed hogs. Here is the belly, still in one piece. It weighs 11.5 lbs and measures about 11" x 17", 2-1/2" thick at the thickest part.
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I cut the belly into halves to fit into the zip locks. Here is one, already treated with the cure from Charcuterie using the recipe on pp. 83-4. The only change made was that I added about 1 Tbsp black pepper to each of the recipes. Note that the 2 gallon bag was actually a bit large, so I used binder clips to make it a bit smaller.
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Because of the thickness (I think), I had to let the bellies cure for 9 days to get them firm. They didn't develop as much liquid as I expected, despite tha fact that I used a pretty generous amount of cure (3 recipes total, most of which was used up).

After 9 days in the cure, this is one of the halves on a drying rack, thoroughly rinsed and ready to go into the fridge for 24 hours to develop the pellicle.
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Next, into the smoker, fired almost exclusively with apple which was pretty green, but the initial fire was started with hickory to get a bed of coals. Based on what Ron observed earlier, I smoked the halves entirely with the skin side down, and the finished product was very tender with just the right amount of chew to it.
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It was quite windy and warm on smoking day, and I had trouble keeping the smoker temp below 225F but managed to contain it most of the time. After 2-1/2 hours, the internal temp was 150F, more or less. I checked with two thermometers and got two different readings that were about 3 degrees apart. Anyway, here is a very dark pic of what the two bellies looked like after smoking, now cooling on the racks.
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And the finished product (skin removed), sliced and about to go into my beloved cast iron skillet. The two unsliced pieces in the pic are half of a half (it slices much easier if the cut the half in half again).
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After it was cooked, I gave a taste to my next door neighbor, and he had a bacon-gasm on the spot :raz:. This stuff is so good, it is remarkable. We had what I think was the best BLT I've ever put in my mouth that night for supper. I doubt we'll be buying much Nueske's again, unless I slip up and run out of the homemade.

I'm not quite sure how much bacon we ended up with because my little kitchen scale taps out at 5 lbs and both halves were still over that after smoking, but I'm guessing they weren't much over 5 lbs each. And like Pallee observed above, I thought 10 lbs of bacon would be a gracious plenty, but after giving some away to several friends and eating it twice ourselves, we're down now to about 4 lbs and it's looking like I may have to do this every other month or so. Damn, that's good bacon :raz: :biggrin:. Thanks Michael for the book, and thanks again Ron for all the helpful suggestions.
"My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne." John Maynard Keynes

#359 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 15 March 2006 - 09:24 AM

So glad it went well, hwilson41, and clearly, from the pics, it did :smile:

You're so right about the yield too. 10# of bacon doesn't go nearly as far one might think. Wait, did I just say that? :blink: :biggrin:

I also agree about never wanting to buy commercial bacon again. And when you're shunning Nueske product, you know you've turned out something special. We host an annual Christmas/Hannukah party every year at which I serve home-made rumaki. I cannot wait until Holiday time 2006, so that I can use my own bacon around those chicken livers. In fact, I think I may have to make a preview batch really soon.

What's your next Charcuterie project?

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#360 Pallee

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Posted 15 March 2006 - 09:31 AM

Just took down the lop yuk I've been curing upstairs; took about ten days this time due to the thicker cut. I think that they're going to be better, too -- but we'll see soon.

Here's my bacon from the smoker to the oven. It's in my belly now, and I'm happy! 
....

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Awesome looking bacon!

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I'll say Pallee! What kind of a smoker is that?

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The one in the picture is a Big Chief from Luhr Jensen. It's electric and gets to about 140' if you don't put ice in it. The hot one I used is a Smokey Mountain gas fired and can get up to 450' if you aren't careful. I also have a New Braufels wood fired offset and an indoor stovetop. I want to build an outdoor woodfired oven this summer with an adjunct cold smoker - haven't found the plans yet.

At a restaurant I worked in many years back, we modified a Luhr Jensen by cutting a hole in the top, running a drier hose out of it and into an upside down hotel pan we'd cut a coresponding hole in. Then we'd put the product on a rack under it in another pan and surround it in ice. The product stayed very cold.





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