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Cooking & Curing from "Charcuterie": Part 1

Charcuterie

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#481 snowangel

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Posted 25 March 2006 - 08:28 PM

I've probably handled 7 bellies to this point and not one of them had nipples. :sad:

Abra, that looks like a great set-up.  I've got to improvise something similar for myself.  I'm suddenly feeling deprived. :wink: :smile:

Susan, I have 3 smokers, a Weber kettle and a Weber Genesis grill (gas).  They all play very nicely together, and the only one I've really obsoleted is the gas grill, which was left here by the folks who sold us the house.  You're always going to use that kettle; they're too useful to just abandon.  So, even if you buy some new equipment every once in a while, you're not foresaking the weber, you're buying it a friend. :biggrin:

=R=

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Thanks, Ron, for the kind words. I sort of feel like I would be betraying one of my chilren to abandon the kettle, so I need to figure out how to integrate it with something else. There's a reason I married an engineer! Just as soon as he completes the major surgery on my car, methinks he has another project on his lap!

And, yes, my belly had nipples. The 10-year old boys that are ever present at my house got quite a kick out of the idea that they just might be eating bacon from a woman pig (sic).

BTW, Abra, the skins around the nipples, (after the belly is smoked, but still warm) doesn't trim off as easily as the rest of it.

Edited to clarify.
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#482 Chris Amirault

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Posted 26 March 2006 - 07:41 AM

This is a sickness. Looking at that greenhouse, I'm thinking, "What about using our basement shower stall...."

BTW, it's nipplemania here in Providence.
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#483 Abra

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Posted 26 March 2006 - 02:41 PM

So, can someone tell me whether/why we need to get the bacon up to 150? After 4 hours of smoking at about 80 degrees, the bacon is, surprise, at about 80 deegrees. The fire keeps going out and I'm sick of coddling it. It's had a lot of smoke. Do I need to put it in the oven and get it up to 150, or is it good to go as is?

#484 Bombdog

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Posted 26 March 2006 - 03:08 PM

So, can someone tell me whether/why we need to get the bacon up to 150?  After 4 hours of smoking at about 80 degrees, the bacon is, surprise, at about 80 deegrees.  The fire keeps going out and I'm sick of coddling it.  It's had a lot of smoke.  Do I need to put it in the oven and get it up to 150, or is it good to go as is?

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Abra, what you are doing, whether intentional or not, is cold smoking your bacon. You are fine. You just need to make sure that you cook it to 150 degrees before eating it.

At least that's my understanding...I'm sure someone else will chime in if I'm wrong.

Edited by Bombdog, 26 March 2006 - 03:09 PM.

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#485 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 26 March 2006 - 03:10 PM

So, can someone tell me whether/why we need to get the bacon up to 150?  After 4 hours of smoking at about 80 degrees, the bacon is, surprise, at about 80 deegrees.  The fire keeps going out and I'm sick of coddling it.  It's had a lot of smoke.  Do I need to put it in the oven and get it up to 150, or is it good to go as is?

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Abra, what you are doing, whether intentional or not, is cold smoking your bacon. You are fine. You just need to make sure that you cook it to 150 degrees before eating it.

At least that's my understanding...I'm sure someone else will chime in if I'm wrong.

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That's my take on it, too.

=R=
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#486 Abra

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Posted 26 March 2006 - 03:12 PM

Ok! I've had it in a 170 oven for a few minutes awaiting word from on high - thanks, guys! I'm taking it out now.

#487 Abra

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Posted 26 March 2006 - 03:41 PM

Oh crap, now I'm really in trouble! As I was wrestling the skin off the bacon, my husband said "I'm surprised, now that I see you doing that, that the pancetta doesn't have the skin removed." I say that no, the instructions don't mention the skin, but hey, now that I think of it, pancetta never has skin. So I look again, and there it is, in the ingredient list, pork belly, skin removed.

Insert long string of really evil language here. Because, of course, not only is the pancetta rolled and hanging, but evidently the cure was meant to be applied to a skinless belly, and now I am so screwed. I could just cry.

So yeah, I can unroll it, skin it, and re-tie it. But do I need to re-cure the side where the skin was? Bacon is cured skin-on, but then it's not rolled and hung for two weeks. I am beyond pissed off at myself for not reading more carefully. Double, triple shit!

#488 jackal10

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Posted 26 March 2006 - 04:04 PM

Why heat it? I though most bacon was cold smoked (at least it is here), and then used however the recipe dictates. Normally I slice it thinly and fry it, or use it in a dish such as a stew or beans, but I have been known to slice it thin and eat it cold...

#489 Bombdog

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Posted 26 March 2006 - 04:59 PM

I hot smoked some yesterday and have a slab in the Bradley right now cold smoking.  I'll be happy to do a side by side test and let you know.

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Okay, so I hot smoked a portion of belly last Thursday in apple smoke and cold smoked another portion on Friday in hickory. No particular reason, other than I just added the apple slab to some sausages that were hot smoking at the time.

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I don't have any pictures of the hot smoked right out of the smoker, but here is the cold smoked portion right after removing it from the Bradley.


Both bellies were cured in the same method, for the same length of time. The only difference between the two was that the hot smoked portion spent an extra day in the fridge before the test.


I wanted to make sure we were sampling the same area of each slab, so I cut the test portions from the middle of each.
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The cold smoked slices are on the left, the hot smoked are on the right.

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Once again, the cold smoked slices are on the left. I didn't notice an real difference in the way either one cooked.

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Here they are, draining on a paper towel. Still, I don't notice any significant difference between the two.

I don't have any pictures of the food-gasm I had when I tasted each. God, this stuff is every thing that has been posted already...and more. WHY would you spend money on store bought stuff ever again?

The only thing I can say is that MAYBE the hot smoked slices were a bit drier than the cold smoked ones....But I think I'll have to do another test to really know for sure. Hell, maybe several more tests!

I'll not make any recommendations here. Your choice how you do your bacon. I can only say at this point, for myself, what ever differences are present are not worth making a big deal over.

Edited by Bombdog, 27 March 2006 - 03:39 AM.

Dave Valentin
Retired Explosive Detection K9 Handler
"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.


#490 snowangel

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Posted 26 March 2006 - 05:45 PM

Is bacongasm a word? If not, it certainly should be. I can see that we will be eating a lot more bacon.

Thanks for the comparison, bombdog. For the time being, I'll keep doing what I did earlier this week!
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#491 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 26 March 2006 - 06:33 PM

Thanks, Bombdog, for taking the time to lay it out for us; very much appreciated.

=R=
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#492 Pallee

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Posted 26 March 2006 - 09:04 PM

Great looking bacon! I agree, I'll be hard pressed to go back to store bought after the wonderful results of home made. When I gave my brother a year of "Bacon of the Month Club" a while back, their favorite of the year was a garlic stuffed bacon. I may try that next, where you insert whole cloves of garlic into the belly before the cure.

Now here's my peperone report. Two weeks ago I made a batch with only 2 grams of Bactoferm instead of 20. I also added 4 tsp of ground black pepper. I used a piston type stuffer instead of the auger on my grinder and only used the coarse plate to grind.

What a difference! The texture is much improved due to the change in grind and the new stuffer. It cured up great and has a more "meaty" flavor. I'll back the black pepper back to 2 tsp. next time, but all told, quite a success.

#493 Abra

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Posted 26 March 2006 - 09:45 PM

This must not be my day. No bacongasms at my house. This is the finished cold-smoked bacon, and some eggs I had in the smoker too to see what they'd do. Not much, in case you're wondering.

Posted Image

looks just like bacon, right?

Posted Image
But it doesn't really "taste like bacon" to us. There were three of us tonight, and we all agreed that we want more smoke flavor, and I think it ought to have a more "cured" flavor as well. It tastes like a delicious, lightly salty, lightly sweet, lightly smoky piece of pork, but lacks that distinctive bacon flavor. I used the basic cure, and 1/4 cup of maple syrup.

Perhaps we're missing the hickory flavor, having done it over applewood? But I've had applewood-smoked bacon that was really smoky, so I'm skeptical about that explanation. Nonetheless, I think I'm going to put it back in the smoker tomorrow over hickory and see if I can get it a bit more thrilling. Any other suggestions? I hate to be a bacongasm wet blanket!

Thanks for the side-by-side, Bombdog. It's a surprise to me that there was so little diffference.

Edited by Abra, 26 March 2006 - 09:48 PM.


#494 snowangel

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Posted 26 March 2006 - 09:53 PM

Abra, it sounds like you have had the day from hell.

For one thing, I think I would go ahead and put it back on the smoker. One of the things a whole mess of us have always thought, and we could be absolutely totally wrong on this is that the meat quit absorbing the smoke when it reaches about 140 degrees (F), so if you pulled it off at 80, that might have made a difference. Hopefully, you'll have better bacon karma tomorrow, and if you put it back on, you'll not think we are all crazy. And, given what bombdog said, I don't think there's any reason not to hot smoke it (at the 200 max suggested by the book).

BTW, what did you decide to do about the pancetta? I'd skin it, add cure to the unskinned side and re-hang it.
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#495 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 26 March 2006 - 10:00 PM

Abra, one guess about the lack of smokiness may be that when cold smoking, the process requires more time. One book I own -- Professional Charcuterie by John Kinsella and David T. Harvey -- recommends cold smoking bacon for 10 hours, minimum.

As for the lack of cure flavor, my guess is that additional smoke may amplify that somewhat. But, if you started with a particularly large belly, it's also possible that it didn't cure long enough or that enough cure was not applied. I think the recipe in the book is for a 5# belly. If your starting with a larger belly, or one that is particularly thick, the amount of cure called for in the recipe may not be enough.

Sorry about the bad day.

=R=
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#496 Abra

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Posted 26 March 2006 - 10:27 PM

Hmm, 10 hours, eh? There's a long way from 4 (mine) to 10 (theirs) and that might be a big part of it. There's no way I could stand to fiddle with a little fire of wet wood for 10 hours, though! As to the cure, the belly half was only just under 3 lbs, so I don't think the cure amount was off.

I'm still mulling over the pancetta problem. For sure skinning and re-hanging are in its near future, but as to adding additional cure, or just seasoning, and whether to re-roll or just let it hang flat, I'm not sure. I'm hoping Michael Ruhlman will come and save the day by telling me definitively what to do. But I really do appreciate all of your suggestions and commiserations. Normally I have more successes to report, so I'm uncharacteristically bummed tonight.

#497 Adam Balic

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 04:55 AM

Is the majority of bacon in the North America smoked?

#498 edsel

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 05:29 AM

Adam, bacon is almost always smoked here. Fruit woods like apple are common, but much of the bacon available in supermarkets has a really strong hickory smoke.

Sweet cures seem to be popular (maple, honey, brown sugar). Often too sweet for my taste. I used the dextrose version of the cure for the bacon I made recently because I wanted to cut back on the sweet flavor. The first batch was smoked over hickory because that's all I had at the time. I got some apple wood chunks for the second batch (much better!)

We can get pancetta here. I used to have to go to an Italian grocery to find it, but now it's turning up in regular markets. I still haven't found guanciale - my local supermarket carries smoked hog jowl, but I've never seen unsmoked outside of the Italian specialty stores.

#499 Musable

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 09:35 AM

After reading this thread and playing with the new smoker, I (of course) had to order the book. I cannot wait to try some sausages, but I am especially looking forward to some bacon after looking at some of these photos.

#500 woodburner

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 10:55 AM

To the best of my knowledge here is ths skinny on smoke.

The smoke ring itself will stop formation after 140ºF

As far as smoke absorbtion, product will take on smoke for as long as you apply it.

At least I believe that is correct.

woodburner

#501 snowangel

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 09:02 PM

From young master Peter (age 10):

"Doesn't bacon just make you happy? Chocolate is good, but bacon is better. It's the best."
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#502 FoodMan

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Posted 28 March 2006 - 02:20 PM

Thanks for the comparison Bombdog! I can only speak for the visual aspect of things, I could tell immediatly which one was cold smoked vs. the hot smoked in the picture. The cold-smoked one looked like it has a tighter grain and seemed like it held it's shape betgter under cooking. I will be sticking with cold-smoking myself.

BTW, my belly had nipples too :smile:...pork belly that is. I just loped them off before curing.

Abra, I cold smoked my pork belly for about 5 hours and yes it does remain cool to the touch. That is the point. However, mine was thinner than yours, so I am guessing you need a longer time in the cure and a longer smoke time as well. Was it pretty firm when you removed ikt from the cure??

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#503 Abra

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Posted 28 March 2006 - 02:31 PM

It was pretty firm, but not hard, or solid, so maybe it needed more than the 8 days it got. I just pulled it off the smoker again. Now it's been double smoked, 4 hours at about 90-100, and another 4 hours at about 150. It looks a lot more golden and bacon-y now, at least on the outside. After it chills down I'll take some pictures and fry up a sample.

I finally got up the nerve to take my pancetta down, skin it, sniff it carefully all over (smelled absolutely perfect), re-roll, and re-hang it. I did salt and pepper the skinned side (thanks, Bombdog) but I didn't want to re-cure it because I had tasted a bit of it before the first hanging and the cure already seemed good. So, now it's hanging again, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Confidence and experience are all I'm lacking here, so I really appreciate all of the help from this bunch. Well, maybe my reading skills are also Needs Improvement!

#504 FoodMan

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 10:15 AM

This salmon is not directly from this book, but I started curing salmon because of the original recipe in Charcuterie and I also added procedures to this recipe based on instructions from this book. So, I feel it really belongs on this thread. The recipe I am talking about is from the latest F&W issue, “Pastrami-style Gravlax”. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to give this a try. It looked awesome in the magazine, and it was. So I bought a big hunk of wild fresh salmon and cured it based on the F&W recipe (salt, raw sugar ie Turbinado, shallots, parsley and cilantro). Even though the recipe does not state this, I still weighed it down like the Charcuterie recipe.
Once done curing, and boy did it throw out lots of liquid, I divided it in half. One I prepared like the rest of the recipe states to make it into “Pastrami”, the other I hot smoked per my wife’s request. Both were outstanding, I especially loved the Pastrami one and served it with homemade onion rye, shallots and cream cheese. The smoked one was served on top of sautéed zucchini and more rye bread. I will definitely be making this Pastrami-style salmon again, since it makes for a great lunch at work…while my fellow employees heat up their Hotpockets :wink:

Posted Image
Ready to get out of the cure

Posted Image
Posted Image
The Pastrami-Salmon

Posted Image
Smoked Salmon

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#505 Bombdog

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 10:20 AM

Posted Image
Smoked Salmon

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Damn Elie, that looks AWESOME!
Dave Valentin
Retired Explosive Detection K9 Handler
"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.


#506 Chris Amirault

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 11:52 AM

Elie, that looks great. Since it's a modified version of two recipes with your own input, it sounds like a great Recipe Gullet candidate -- and I can guarantee that I'll make it! Whadaya think?
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#507 FoodMan

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 12:09 PM

Elie, that looks great. Since it's a modified version of two recipes with your own input, it sounds like a great Recipe Gullet candidate -- and I can guarantee that I'll make it! Whadaya think?

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Sure, I'll enter it in RG.

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#508 Abra

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 12:15 PM

Gorgeous, Elie. I'm looking forward to trying your recipe!

#509 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 12:41 PM

Wow, Elie! That really looks great. Thanks for the recipe tip, too.

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#510 snowangel

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 04:03 PM

Abra, have you tried any of your re-smoked bacon yet? If so, verdict?
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"





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