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Cooking & Curing from "Charcuterie": Part 1

Charcuterie Cookbook

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#511 Abra

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 05:15 PM

Yes, here it is

Posted Image
double-smoked, cold smoked over apple, warm smoked over hickory, total of 7 1/2 hours in the smoke.

I think it's delicious. My husband thinks it's very good, but he still thinks it doesn't "taste like bacon." I think he wants more nitrite, in truth. Would commercial bacon have more than the cure we're using?

#512 Chris Amirault

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 05:34 PM

Abra, I'm noticing that your ratio of meat to fat is quite a bit higher than the 1:1 that Ruhlman and Polcyn suggest -- and, I'm sure, that itself is higher than the ratio on most US bacons. Perhaps your husband just wants more fat?? No insult, intended, of course. This is, after all, eGullet! :wink:
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#513 Abra

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 05:42 PM

He has more fat, he has me! Oh, you mean on the bacon? It's from Niman Ranch, which is one of the book's recommended sources, but it does have more lean than store bacon.

#514 Chris Amirault

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 05:45 PM

Sorry, that was shorthand, Abra. I noticed that with my first two batches the one that had an equal meat:fat ratio cured more effectively; the one that was more meat than fat had a more canadian-bacon feel to it. Perhaps the ratio effects the cure? That would make some sense, after all, given the importance of the ratio in sausages, emulsified and otherwise....

What do folks think?
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#515 snowangel

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 05:51 PM

What was interesting to me is how different different parts of the belly are. Some is very well layered with meat, fat, meat, fat, etc., and other parts look and behave less like the bacon we get in the supermarket. Which makes me wonder what they are doing with those parts of the belly that are less lean (wait, maybe I don't want to know).

The other thing Diana and I have noticed is that this bacon seems to crisp up faster and doesn't exude the amount of liquid (water?) that supermarket bacon does. Diana's comment was "so, just how much water do they pump into their bacon?"
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#516 Chris Amirault

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 05:58 PM

The other thing Diana and I have noticed is that this bacon seems to crisp up faster and doesn't exude the amount of liquid (water?) that supermarket bacon does.  Diana's comment was "so, just how much water do they pump into their bacon?"

View Post

I've had the same experience and thoughts. Cooking this bacon actually produces an astonishing fond bc there's just no water coming off of it. It's particularly remarkable for lardons, bc they crisp up yet maintain their meaty, thick texture. They don't turn into brittle Bac-Os.
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#517 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 06:06 PM

The other thing Diana and I have noticed is that this bacon seems to crisp up faster and doesn't exude the amount of liquid (water?) that supermarket bacon does.  Diana's comment was "so, just how much water do they pump into their bacon?"

View Post

I've had the same experience and thoughts. Cooking this bacon actually produces an astonishing fond bc there's just no water coming off of it. It's particularly remarkable for lardons, bc they crisp up yet maintain their meaty, thick texture. They don't turn into brittle Bac-Os.

View Post

I also find that it needs to be cooked at a lower temperature than store bacon. I think this is also because of the lower moisture content.

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#518 Chris Amirault

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 06:19 PM

I walked into school today and, sitting across from my desk, all proud and eager, was my new Bradley Smoker!! I put in my half day of work today and then started my four-and-a-half days of a smokin' vacation!

After a quick stop at Whole Foods for more meat, I hustled home to unpack, fiddle, and season the Bradley. It was a breeze to assemble, though it took a little while for me to figure out the bisquette feeder thingie -- it kept pushing the damned pucks directly into the water, one after another, without actually burning any of them. :hmmm: Once I had the hang of it, I seasoned it for a couple of hours with some alder and hickory. It seems just about as easy as pie to use, in fact, and with my other new toy, the Maverick remote thermometer, I think I'm ready for some serious smoking.

My two bellies curing in the fridge need another night before drying, so I brined up a whole turkey breast and bought some pork butt for sausage making tomorrow. I'm thinking that I'll make some chorizo and some andouille and then give them a bit of smoke. I also found a wonderful soft, artisanal gouda made in Western Massachusetts that seems to be crying out for some smoke (my wife is a big smoked gouda fan). but I wasn't sure what sort of cheese takes best to smoke. Any ideas?

More, probably much more, over the next several days.
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#519 Abra

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 06:35 PM

Chris, I am so jealous. Ply us with pictures, please!

I smoked a chunk of halloumi the other day when I was cold-smoking. I did halloumi because it doesn't melt, so it seemed good for a maiden voyage. It smoked for 2 hours, and all of the outer surfaces were nice and smoky, but the smoke didn't penetrate at all. I'd definitely do it again, but in smaller pieces, so as to get maximun surface area exposed to the smoke.

#520 snowangel

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 06:39 PM

I walked into school today and, sitting across from my desk, all proud and eager, was my new Bradley Smoker!! I put in my half day of work today and then started my four-and-a-half days of a smokin' vacation!

After a quick stop at Whole Foods for more meat, I hustled home to unpack, fiddle, and season the Bradley. It was a breeze to assemble, though it took a little while for me to figure out the bisquette feeder thingie -- it kept pushing the damned pucks directly into the water, one after another, without actually burning any of them. :hmmm: Once I had the hang of it, I seasoned it for a couple of hours with some alder and hickory. It seems just about as easy as pie to use, in fact, and with my other new toy, the Maverick remote thermometer, I think I'm ready for some serious smoking.

My two bellies curing in the fridge need another night before drying, so I brined up a whole turkey breast and bought some pork butt for sausage making tomorrow. I'm thinking that I'll make some chorizo and some andouille and then give them a bit of smoke. I also found a wonderful soft, artisanal gouda made in Western Massachusetts that seems to be crying out for some smoke (my wife is a big smoked gouda fan). but I wasn't sure what sort of cheese takes best to smoke. Any ideas?

More, probably much more, over the next several days.

View Post



Congratuations! I'm so thrilled for you! But, don't just think that butt is for sausage...you'll need to smoke a naked, brined butt so you can have some Pantry Gold. (er, that should be Freezer Gold)
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#521 FoodMan

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Posted 30 March 2006 - 10:34 AM

The other thing Diana and I have noticed is that this bacon seems to crisp up faster and doesn't exude the amount of liquid (water?) that supermarket bacon does.  Diana's comment was "so, just how much water do they pump into their bacon?"

View Post

I've had the same experience and thoughts. Cooking this bacon actually produces an astonishing fond bc there's just no water coming off of it. It's particularly remarkable for lardons, bc they crisp up yet maintain their meaty, thick texture. They don't turn into brittle Bac-Os.

View Post

I concur :smile: especially about the lardons comment. I made a kick-ass frizee and lardon salad the other day.

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#522 Chris Amirault

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Posted 30 March 2006 - 02:05 PM

Round one of smoking with Charcuterie: andouille sausage. It's no exaggeration to say that one of the main reasons I wanted to get the Bradley was because of my craving for and inability to find good andouille sausages. One of my earliest cooking experiences revolved around Paul Prudhomme's first two books, and his gushing descriptions of andouille really took hold of me. I couldn't get anything decent up in the northeast, and my mid-1980s trip to NOLA confirmed that I was missing out. So I'm very excited -- anxious, really; I've been tearing up my thumb picking at it nervously all day -- to be kicking the Bradley off with these sausages.

Following the recipe in the book and the good advice in this thread an in the sausage cook-off, I diced up my crunchy frozen shoulder, mixed up the spices, ground the meat with my KA, and stuffed the sausages. I had my first real problems with casings this time around; they tore a bit and were generally fussy. Even with those problems, I ended up with quite a few nice links:

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I wanted two shots to indicate the Ikea Frost clothes drying rack clearly; I've used this a lot for pasta drying and it worked like a charm for the sausages as well. Dirt cheap, too.

I had to figger a way to attach the links to the baskets, and found a few safety pins, which were very handy:

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And here's the little beauty sitting on a table outside:

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The racks with the sausages inside the Bradley:

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Turns out that my Bradley wanted to send seven or eight pucks through at a time, so I lost some extras to the little bowl. I called the 800 number and got a helpful person right away (Katie, in case you need her), and we're seeing if things are all set now.

Meanwhile, I'm now trying not to drink too much as I await the results. I've got an ice bath ready for the sausages as soon as they hit 150. More soon!

edited to fix typos -- ca

Edited by chrisamirault, 30 March 2006 - 02:31 PM.

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#523 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 30 March 2006 - 02:56 PM

Go Chris, go! Great pics to remember what the inside of your smoker once looked like, as it's days of reflecting light are soon to end. :biggrin:

I am so totally jealous now . . . all I can say is "puck" you! :laugh:

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#524 Bombdog

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Posted 30 March 2006 - 03:06 PM

Great pics to remember what the inside of your smoker once looked like, as it's days of reflecting light are soon to end. :biggrin:

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If you look carefully at that last shot you can actually see the reflection of a sausage on the smoke shield!

I guess mine was that shiny back in December, but it sure doesn't look like that now!
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#525 snowangel

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Posted 30 March 2006 - 03:21 PM

I had to figger a way to attach the links to the baskets, and found a few safety pins, which were very handy:


Chris, paper clips are even easier! Time to lay in a box of the big ones.

Please give us a blow-by-blow on using the Bradley, the temp regulation, etc.

I have a rather major wedding anniversary coming up (25) and am wondering if it's time to treat myself with something a little fancier than the trusty Weber Kettle (although I have a huge attachment to the Kettle and am very proud of what I can finesse out of it!).
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#526 jmolinari

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Posted 30 March 2006 - 03:40 PM

Or take pieces of non-painted metal coathooks, cut into 2" lengths and bend into an S shape to hang meat

#527 Abra

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Posted 30 March 2006 - 04:11 PM

We're all hanging on your every sausage, Chris! The (sad) cure for drinking too much while smoking is to fire up your smoker about 9:00 a.m., but then, you didn't ask for a cure, so I'll just remind you to hold the camera really steady for those next shots.

#528 FoodMan

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Posted 30 March 2006 - 04:12 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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As promised, here is the adapted recipe. So I expect you to be the first to make it in that nice and shiny, brand new smoker of yours :biggrin: . I am sooooo jealous....

Please let me know if anything does not make sense in the recipe and I will edit it.

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#529 DerekW

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Posted 30 March 2006 - 05:05 PM

Great pictures, thanks Chris! [ :cool: smoker envy]

What are you using as a stuffer? We had our first attempt at making 'entry level' sausage [pork picnic shoulder with ginger and herbs] at the weekend, and while all went well [juicy, tasty, mmm good] I can't say that i thought much of the stuffer attachment on the Kitchenaid grinder. The book warns as much, but...

We ground, then paddled, then ran the squodge through the grinder/stuffer without blades, but it was really hard to get a smooth constant feed. Since the squodge was sticky, it would form a seal around the push stick and vacuum the meat back from the casings when we withdrew the pusher to continue feeding.

Our local serious sausage supplier has a cast iron press available for about $100, and a serious crank operated unit for about $300. They've got one that's closer to $10,000 as well :biggrin:

I try to avoid the worst excesses of kitchen gadgetry, but there will be more sausages in our future if i don't have to go through the push-pull stuffing process again. What would really bite would be spending the $100 and then deciding next week that I should have ponied up for the $300 crank unit.

So what do the prolific sausage stuffers among you use?

cheers
Derek

#530 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 30 March 2006 - 05:08 PM

Derek, check out this thread:

Sausage stuffers - what to look for?, Recommendations, please

FWIW, I'm very happy with the one I purchased, although, maybe I should have gone for the 10# model over the 5# model.

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#531 Chris Amirault

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Posted 30 March 2006 - 06:15 PM

Posted Image

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Those magnificent links, my friends, are not only the best sausages I've ever made -- they're the best I've ever eaten. He shoots, he scores!

Ok, enough with the crowing. Here's the blow-by-blow:

The entire smoking process was pretty painless, save for the puck problem discussed above. I used hickory; I wanted a strong smoke to pair with the strong spicing of the andouille. I set the Bradley at medium-high, brought it up to 180F, and it stayed between 150-180F for the duration of the smoking; whenever I checked, it was at 180, but it dropped down, of course, whenever I opened the door (to check the puck situation). The smoke generator worked great, and even though it was a bit windy, I was able to maintain a solid blanket of smoke in the "tower" (Bradley lingo).

The sausages smoked for 2 hours total. I had my new Maverick remote working swell, and that indicated a couple of plateaus, the last one around 135F, on the way to 150F. Then a quick douse in the water bath, which firmed them up really nicely and quickly. All in all, pretty straightforward for a first crack -- and compared to the rocket science of past excursions into barbecue on the Weber Kettle? A paper airplane.

One major puck-up: I didn't separate the sausages sufficiently, which meant that a couple didn't have smoke along a portion of sausage that was in contact with another. That means lighter areas, which means less smoky areas. Something to think about next time.

The Charcuterie recipe was great. I made a couple of changes, primarily increases to the level of spicing (more cayenne, Colman's mustard, allspice, thyme). I was absurdly careful about keeping everything cooold, and the finished product shows: good juice, firm texture, and a terrific, round mouthfeel.

Honestly, the more obsessive I am about temperature, the better the sausages are. Which brings me to my question: how is it that, after all that care around temperature, a two-hour room-temperature hang to develop the pellicle doesn't screw them all up? That confuses me.

One more thing: friends, that smoke and heat transform the skins into the snappy, delicious porky pastry that only natural casings provide. Make these and you'll never use collagen again.

I'm happy to say more, so ask away. Meanwhile...

Chris, paper clips are even easier!  Time to lay in a box of the big ones.


I looked first for paper clips, Susan, following your lead! Couldn't find any, though, so....

We're all hanging on your every sausage, Chris!  The (sad) cure for drinking too much while smoking is to fire up your smoker about 9:00 a.m., but then, you didn't ask for a cure, so I'll just remind you to hold the camera really steady for those next shots.

View Post


I don't understand, Abra. It seems that starting drinking at 9a would extend the drinking while smoking. But perhaps I've misunderstood something.... :wink:

What are you using as a stuffer?



The KA -- and, yes, I have this very problem myself:

[I]t was really hard to get a smooth constant feed. Since the squodge was sticky, it would form a seal around the push stick and vacuum the meat back from the casings when we withdrew the pusher to continue feeding.


I also think that I really have to be careful to soak the casings well, bc they need to be good and slippery for the tube. Mine were sticking to the horn and tearing at one point :blink:.
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#532 Chris Amirault

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Posted 30 March 2006 - 06:17 PM

Oh, and Elie:

As promised, here is the adapted recipe. So I expect you to be the first to make it in that nice and shiny, brand new smoker of yours  :biggrin: .

View Post


The recipe looks great, Elie. I think I'm going to start with the (non-smoked) pastrami salmon, though -- that's what I wanted the recipe for, man!
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#533 edsel

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Posted 30 March 2006 - 06:24 PM

Our local serious sausage supplier has a cast iron press available for about $100, and a serious crank operated unit for about $300.  They've got one that's closer to $10,000 as well :biggrin:

View Post

I bought one of those curved cast-iron things from one of the Amazon affiliates. It works OK, but the sausage "stuff" tends to squeeze out around the plunger, and it seems impossible to get the last bit of stuff out of the press and into the casings. I wind up having to wash a significant amount of stuffing out of the press when I'm done. (It's wedged way down inside the press and is really hard to get out of there).

#534 Abra

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Posted 30 March 2006 - 08:25 PM

Oh so appetizing and delicious-looking! I can't wait to follow suit. I need to figure out how to hang stuff in the CharGriller, and then I need to get the KA grinder, and then...take the consensus advice on stuffers.

By then you'll be so far ahead I'll never catch up, but I'll be drooling over your pictures.

#535 Michael Ruhlman

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Posted 31 March 2006 - 06:47 AM

Abra, i'm sure your pancetta will be delicious. it's sometimes cured with skin and then removed; we added the "skin removed" at the last minute. so you did nothing wrong other than not read the recipe (sure sign of a cook). add the skin to stocks or bean dishes for incredible body--it's loaded with collagen. or braise it then chill it then fry it.

the bacony flavor your husband is missing may be from not enough nitrite. you can add a little more but not much.

i'm not a big fan of the maple syrup cure (brian uses maple sugar). the seasoning there also might be a reason for lacking the distinctive flavor your husband wants. try adding plenty of freshly cracked pepper next time or use the pancetta cure.

It's my understanding that in america, bacon is by definition smoked, typically hot-smoked. it is cold smoked only so that it can be heavily smoked before it's cooked. i don't like ten hours of smoke, so hot smoking is fine, or cold smoking and then gently roasting results in the same bacon. bacon should be fully cooked, then chilled then recooked. but it can be grilled fresh as well and then braised. and it can be confited of course. we could have a pork belly festival.

chris, thanks for the awesome and tantalizing pix. and thanks for underscoring the importance of keeping things cold. I don't know exactly why two hours at room temp doesn't hurt the emulsion, but my sense and experience is that, like a mayonnaise, once the emulsion is achieved, it's pretty stable at room temperature.

all of you guys are inspiring!

#536 mkayahara

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Posted 31 March 2006 - 07:45 AM

Chris, those sausages look awesome!

In response to your question upthread about what cheeses take well to smoke, Jarlsberg is one of my personal favourites, though I can't seem to track it down around here. I guess that's just one more good reason to buy myself a smoker - as if everyone's beautiful pics and descriptions in this thread weren't reason enough! :wub:
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#537 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 31 March 2006 - 09:04 AM

Chris, that is some amazing work! Thanks for sharing your experience (all the steps) with us. I think I'm going to go ahead and order a Bradley unit for myself. I've been on the fence for sometime but your images have pushed me completely over to the other side. Just beautiful . . . :smile:

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#538 Chris Amirault

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Posted 31 March 2006 - 09:17 AM

Chris, that is some amazing work!  Thanks for sharing your experience (all the steps) with us.  I think I'm going to go ahead and order a Bradley unit for myself.  I've been on the fence for sometime but your images have pushed me completely over to the other side.  Just beautiful . . . :smile:

=R=

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Thanks, Ron, and everyone else. As for getting the Bradley, as long as this puck feeder problem works out, I'm considering it money very well spent indeed. If you do order one, check out Yard and Pool's eBay store: I got mine for $310 with free FedEx shipping, even with $50 of pucks added to the order. Great comms, too.

I'm going to take a crack at the turkey breast now, which has been drying in the fridge after 2 days in the cure. I'm leaving the skin on, right?
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#539 snowangel

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Posted 31 March 2006 - 10:01 AM

I'm going to take a crack at the turkey breast now, which has been drying in the fridge after 2 days in the cure. I'm leaving the skin on, right?


Yes, skin on, unless you want an exceptionally dry turkey breast!

And, keep us updated on the Bradley and how you like it going forward.
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#540 hwilson41

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Posted 31 March 2006 - 10:39 AM

Chris, beautiful work on the andouille. It must taste as good as it looks, and I'm sure you're justifiably proud. I'd be interested in knowing the approximate percentages you changed the spices, and also what size pork(?) casings you used. The only two sources of "real" andouille I've ordered from in LA (Jacobs and Poche's) use beef middle casings, but the last time I ordered casings from the Sausage Maker, it looked to me like they've changed some definitions because they had beef rounds that were smaller than the beef middles, and I *think* it used to be stated that beef middles were the smallest beef casing available. Or maybe my memory is even worse than I think it is :wacko:. Thanks again for the careful blow by blow. Very helpful to those of us who follow.

Re sausage stuffers, I had many problems with my KA stuffer also, and finally decided to spring for one of these from the Sausage Maker. I've only used it a couple of times so far, but it is a dream to use compared to the others I've tried. And I took Ron's advice and soaked the casings for two days. It does make a world of difference compared to only soaking them an hour or two.
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