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Cooking & Curing from "Charcuterie": Part 1

Charcuterie Cookbook

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#91 Michael Ruhlman

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Posted 26 January 2006 - 07:03 AM

  the amount of acidification is controlled by the amount of sugars in the sausage, which the bacteria feed on, and not the amount of bacteria added.
Having said that, using 20g of bactoferm for each batch of sausage is most likely a waste.


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this is exactly right. we've added an explanation to the next editions of the book. the reason for adding so much bactoferm is to make sure enough of the live culture makes it into the sausage. too much won't hurt. Butcher-packer recommends using at least a quarter of the package. the rest can be frozen for serveral months.

Edited by Michael Ruhlman, 26 January 2006 - 07:05 AM.


#92 jmolinari

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Posted 26 January 2006 - 07:31 AM

Michael, i figured that is why you said to use so much. Problem is, for me at least, at $15+shipping per package, using 1/2 of it on a 3lb batch of meat is rediculous.
I've always used the appropriate amount, and i measure the acidification with a pH meter, seems to work out. I've had mine in the freezer for about 1.5 years now, i vacuum bag it after every use.
jason

#93 bigwino

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Posted 26 January 2006 - 02:26 PM

First curing project: I just put 4 lb of pork belly into the fridge to cure using the basic curing mixture and a fistful of cracked pepper. I'll check back in in seven-ten days.

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I'm a few days ahead of you -- 2 bellies curing since last Friday evening -- one as bacon, one as pancetta. If all goes well, I'll be smoking the bacon belly over applewood this Sunday. I'm still trying to figure out exactly where I'm going to hang the pancetta. :wacko:

=R=

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I'm doing exactly the same thing. Two bellies in the basement fridge making me hungry and excited.

One interesting thing (maybe problem) that I've noticed. The bacon has thrown off quite a bit more liquid than the pancetta. Five days in, the bacon is pretty much swimming in liquid in the ziploc. Five days in and the pancetta is more or less just moist. Are you seeing something similar?

I'm reasonably confident that I measured the ingredients correctly. I wonder if the differences in the curing ingredients explains the difference. Or, maybe the lack of skin on the pancetta?

Anyone have any thoughts?

#94 Chris Amirault

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Posted 26 January 2006 - 02:29 PM

I can't make the comparison but it makes sense. There is so much more surface area for the bacon, yes? So there'd be more moisture given off.

I think.
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#95 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 26 January 2006 - 02:49 PM

I can't make the comparison but it makes sense. There is so much more surface area for the bacon, yes? So there'd be more moisture given off.

I think.

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Right now they are essentially the same because the pancetta isn't rolled until after it's cured. That said, the pancetta has been skinned, the bacon has not.

bigwino, I am seeing results similar to yours -- and neither belly feels particularly firm yet. There's much more liquid in the bacon bag and the pancetta is nearly as dry as the day I started curing it, although there is some moisture. I'm going to smoke the bacon on Sunday, regardless of its firmness but I hope that by then it matches up a bit closer to the description in the book. In either case, I talked to my butcher today, told him what was going on and he thought that the Friday - next Saturday cure (with one day after for drying) would be totally adequate. I'll take the bacon out of its bag on Saturday afternoon and dry it until mid-day Sunday, when I fire up the smoker.

I've taken a bunch of pics but I'm waiting until I have some finished product before I upload them all to the thread.

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#96 bigwino

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Posted 26 January 2006 - 03:21 PM

Ron, I'm glad to hear we're having the same experience. My bacon is firmer than the pancetta, but I started it earlier. I'm leaving them to cure an extra day each since they're a little thick.


I'm smoking on Saturday and also taking down the duck prosciutto that's drying in the basement.


I'll post pics when things are more or less done, too.


Good luck (to us all)! :biggrin:

#97 MarkinHouston

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Posted 27 January 2006 - 05:54 AM

I am planning to make the venison terrine with cherries this weekend, and my venison is packaged such that I will make two terrines. One potential cooking vessel is a 1.5 quart silicon loaf pan. Will this do the trick, or should I purchase another earthenware terrine?

As another consideration, I am considering inclusion of some venison backstrap as an inlay ala the pork terrine with pork tenderloin recipe. Would a quick sear of the backstrap followed by chilling before placing in the center of the terrine be the proper method? Thanks for any advice. This book has been great; the chicken, basil, and tomato sausage was outstanding, as were maple bacon and an improvised batch of rillettes fashioned from confit of chicken gizzards. :wacko:

#98 coquus

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Posted 27 January 2006 - 06:46 AM

As another consideration, I am considering inclusion of some venison backstrap as an inlay ala the pork terrine with pork tenderloin recipe. Would a quick sear of the backstrap followed by chilling before placing in the center of the terrine be the proper method?

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Not knowing the recipe you referred to, I would salt cure any large whole peices which you add to the terrine, if your terrine uses sodium nitrate I would cure with sodium nitrate (amount as recommended on the package) for a day and a half, and skip the sear. That said, if you plan on eating it all in a day or two feel free to try it the way you describe. Remember it's all trial and error, so get trialing. :wink:

#99 melicob

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Posted 27 January 2006 - 06:22 PM

My first attempt at Charcuterie bacon (and my first eGullet post! of course it's about bacon...)

We did savory bacon sans nitrite and found it to be not-so-much. Too meaty, too savory, not enough smoke flavor. But it looked good.

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So, I broke down and ordered some pink salt and did a sweet version, adding a little liquid smoke to make up for it not being in a smoker to cook. (Apartment living... alas.) I also added some honey to the party and it turned out deeelicious.

Um. Yum-a-rama.

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Next on the docket (in the fridge) is a pork belly divided into 3 test bastardized Alton/Charcuterie combo recipes. I know they sound odd, but no harm in tryin'...

1) honey mustard
2) molasses pepper
3) Guinness & chocolate (two great tastes -- they must taste great with bacon, right?)

Will post about the results when they are ready!

#100 Chris Amirault

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Posted 28 January 2006 - 07:38 AM

Looks great, melicob -- and welcome to eGullet! I am in day four of my fresh bacon curing: good liquid, not yet firm. Feeling good about it.

This thread has gotten me to thinking about making lop yuk or Chinese bacon.

Posted Image

Here's a thread devoted to the subject, and here's a recipe for Naw Mai Fon by Russell Wong. If you have never had real lop yuk, I can attest to the transformative effects of this ingredient, particularly when it's home-cured. The photo above depicts lop yuk that was made by the mother of the owners of my favorite Chinese foodstuffs store, but she doesn't make it that often. I've not been able to find out how she makes it with any precision, and the instructions I've seen are less detailed than I would like (being the rather anxious curer that I happen to be). Ratios, man, I need ratios.

As a starting point, I'm taking Ben Hong's useful thoughts on the matter from the above thread:

Cut pork belly into 1 inch wide strips. Marinate in a "heavy" marinade of salt, dark soy, rum or other spirits, black pepper, sugar, and for safety's sake, a bit of saltpetre. String each piece and hang in an airy, cool dry, place until it attains the right feel. Store in a fridge.

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I'm posting it here because I think that I might be able, with your help, to adapt some of the techniques from Charcuterie using these ingredients to make it myself, since it's basically a fresh bacon. I've also PMed Ben in case he can remember a bit more about the technique and proportions. Here are some of my questions: How can I measure the salinity (is that a word? the saltiness, I mean) of the soy and salt? Can I, or is this hit-and-miss-and-try-again cooking?

Ben lists rum; I have procured a very nice bottle of shaoxing wine, which I'm assuming is a good substitute. But in Charcuterie there are no spirits. What role does the hooch play?

Ben lists saltpetre. I'm assuming I can substitute pink salt in the appropriate ratio from the book for whatever weight of meat I have. :hmmm: Right?

My purveyor's grandmother only cures when the weather is cool and dry, and she does it outdoors to take advantage of the wind -- which sounds just like Ben's "airy, cool dry, place." What temperature does "cool" mean? In the book, it sounds like I don't want to get above 75F, which won't be a problem indoors or out here. So should I be hanging this outside? In the cool basement with a fan? Both and compare?
I would really appreciate any input. I'm hoping to get this going in the next few days and document it here.

In closing, I'll add that I wish there were some recipes for Asian sausages (especially lop cheung) and cured meats in the book, Michael. Any reason why there aren't?
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#101 jmolinari

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Posted 28 January 2006 - 08:06 AM

Chris, i would thikn a cool, dry place is about 60deg. F, and about 50% RH.
Regarding the salt petre, use cure #2 (since this item is dry cured), in the proportion of about 28g to 25lbs of meat.
As far as the proportions of soy/sugar, it seems that the sugar and dark soy are there to counteract the over saltyness of the soy. I think this is going to be trial and error. Take good notes, and since the this is done in strips, you could make multiple trials at once, and then decide which you like more. Do one with 1:1 ratio of soy/dark soy, one with 1:2, 2:1 etc.

The few times i've used alcohal in my cures for pancetta or guanciale, i've disliked the results. It gave the meat a distinct winey flavor i didn't care for.

My answers don't help much, sorry.
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#102 Ben Hong

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Posted 28 January 2006 - 08:10 AM

Re: salinity. The best answer I can give you is "according to taste". Lop yook is considered one of those salty meats that is used in small proportions in a dish or as a meal extender on the Chinese table. Lean towards the saltier side (dark soy and salt).

Re: saltpetre. Not essential if you will be keeping lop yook refrigerated, but it is a nice safety measure if the stuff is to be kept in dry storage. Alcohol performs the same function, as a bactrerial inhibitor, and because it adds that characteristic taste to the finish product, I always use a bit.

Re: sugar. After you mix the marinade but before you add the pork, taste it. The marinade should have a "heavy" taste that comes from the dark soy, and sugar and salt combination.

Re: time. The longer the meat is marinaded the more intense the flavour. I usually leave mine overnght.

Re: Temps and conditions. I used to hang the stuff in my sunporch late in the fall with the windows open at least a few hours each day. A cool basement would work as long as you use a fan to move air around it and it is less than 60 degreesF.

Re: right feel. The lop yook should be stiff and dry to the touch like the stiffness if a dry pepperoni (but not iron bar stiff).

Re: precision??? Ya gotta be kidding. Best recommendation is to buy some commercial stuff and use that as a benchmark. We Chinese use all five senses when we cook and the trial and error method What I tell you now may be heresy to some, but it is generally the right way.

Re: Lop cheong or Chinese sausage. I prefer the commercial stuff, so why bother.

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#103 bigwino

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Posted 28 January 2006 - 03:14 PM

Ummm, little help over here?

The pancetta is on day eight of the cure and it's distinctly less firm than the bacon at the same stage of cure. The firmness hasn't changed in the last day or so, so I'm not inclined to continue the cure any longer unless I change something.

So, any thoughts? Am I OK to do the drying/hanging? Should I add more salt and let it go a few more days?

Thanks for any help.
-Paul

#104 BettyK

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Posted 28 January 2006 - 10:32 PM

Chris, there's a recipe for Lop Yok in The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen by Grace Young.
Amazon link.
BTW, I highly recommend this book if you're into chinese cooking.

#105 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 29 January 2006 - 12:13 PM

Ummm, little help over here? 

The pancetta is on day eight of the cure and it's distinctly less firm than the bacon at the same stage of cure.  The firmness hasn't changed in the last day or so, so I'm not inclined to continue the cure any longer unless I change something. 

So, any thoughts?  Am I OK to do the drying/hanging?  Should I add more salt and let it go a few more days? 

Thanks for any help.
-Paul

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Paul, we're in the same boat. Like you, I decided my bacon belly had cured as much as it was going to. So, I removed it from the cure yesterday afternoon and let it dry in the fridge overnight. I'm happy to report that when I took it out this morning, after about 20 hours in the fridge, the belly had firmed up noticeably. It's on the smoker now, over some cherry wood, and I hope to have some results soon.

As for the pancetta, since no smoking is involved, I'm going to let it go a bit longer in its cure. My plan now is to rinse and dry it tonight, tie it up tomorrow after work and hang it in my garage after that.

=R=
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#106 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 29 January 2006 - 12:50 PM

While my initial efforts at bacon and pancetta are underway, I decided to try my hand at breakfast sausage. I figured this was a good place to start since I like it a lot, the recipe is easy and I'm used to having it without casings . . .

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Chunks of pork butt which sat, seasoned, for about 24 hours in fridge.


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Making the sausage in the world's ugliest kitchen . . .


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Seasoned meat exiting the grider.


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2-bowl set-up -- ice in the outer bowl keeps everything on-course.


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A closer look at the seasoned ground pork.


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The "primary bind," obtained after the addition of cold water and approximately 1 minute of mixing.


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This is a 5+ pound batch, so I decide to roll up some logs for later.


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Wrapping it semi-tightly and trying my best to shape the mass into an actual log. I give myself a B- for rolling :wink:


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Most of the yield. Each log had a net weight of 1 pound, 3 ounces. Later today I'll take one of them out of the freezer and (as soon as it firms up) and throw it on the smoker.


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The rest of the yield from batch number 1 . . .


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Getting there . . .


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Just about done . . .


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Finally, it's breakfast time! :smile:

This was an incredibly simple, fun and delicious recipe. At this point, I think it's safe for me to invest in a stuffer and buy some casings.

=R=
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#107 Chris Amirault

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Posted 29 January 2006 - 01:12 PM

Thanks, Jason, Ben, and Betty, for your responses. Betty, I'll see if I can find that book around here to snoop at the recipe. Ben and Jason, I'm going to try to work through your comments and respond:

Chris, i would thikn a cool, dry place is about 60deg. F, and about 50% RH.


Ok, so I think I can use my basement when it isn't raining -- that should work.

Regarding the salt petre, use cure #2 (since this item is dry cured), in the proportion of about 28g to 25lbs of meat.


Jason, when would you recommend adding that cure #2? At what stage of the process?

As far as the proportions of soy/sugar, it seems that the sugar and dark soy are there to counteract the over saltyness of the soy. I think this is going to be trial and error.  Take good notes, and since the this is done in strips, you could make multiple trials at once, and then decide which you like more. Do one with 1:1 ratio of soy/dark soy, one with 1:2, 2:1 etc.


Brilliant.

My answers don't help much, sorry.

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I disagree -- thanks!

Re: salinity. The best answer I can give you is "according to taste". Lop yook is considered one of those salty meats that is used in small proportions in a dish or as a meal extender on the Chinese table. Lean towards the saltier side (dark soy and salt).


This is consistent with what you write below about the marinade tasting "heavy," Ben.

Re: saltpetre. Not essential if you will be keeping lop yook refrigerated, but it is a nice safety measure if the stuff is to be kept in dry storage. Alcohol performs the same function, as a bactrerial inhibitor, and because it adds that characteristic taste to the finish product, I always use a bit.


Re: sugar. After you mix the marinade but before you add the pork, taste it. The marinade should have a "heavy" taste that comes from the dark soy, and sugar and salt combination.

Re: time. The longer the meat is marinaded the more intense the flavour. I usually leave mine overnght.


Sounds good.

Re: Temps and conditions. I used to hang the stuff in my sunporch late in the fall with the windows open at least a few hours each day. A cool basement would work as long as you use a fan to move air around it and it is less than 60 degreesF.


Yeah, I was thinking about a fan. Glad to see that makes sense.

Re: precision??? Ya gotta be kidding. Best recommendation is to buy some commercial stuff and use that as a benchmark.



As it turns out, I found some of the homemade lop yuk made by the mom of the purveyor I've mentioned; I went in on a very busy Lunar New Year shopping weekend and the owners grabbed one strip from a special order she made for someone's banquet. I'll be using that as a benchmark, I think.

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So, again, thanks thanks thanks. I will be trying to write all this up and record it.
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#108 jmolinari

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Posted 29 January 2006 - 01:25 PM

Chris, add the cure #2 to the marinade. For safety sake, i would go "light" on the cure...too much cure can be dangerous.
Oh, i saif 60F 50% RH pretty much as a guess. Ben makes it sound like you need to have movement of air..so maybe a big fan in the basement can help with that.

when i make pancetta i dry it at about 54F and 70% RH. It could use less humidity, but i keep it at about 70% since all my other salumi require about that much.

PS, i looked on amazon at that link, and funnily enough you can read the lop yuk recipe in the book free of charge.

#109 malarkey

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Posted 29 January 2006 - 01:35 PM

I have a quick question that I hope someone will answer... Does the book have a recipe for Morteau sausage?

Amazon doesn't have the index showing :-(

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#110 Chris Amirault

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Posted 29 January 2006 - 02:21 PM

Nope -- but perhaps Michael will weigh in with some thoughts.
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#111 woodburner

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Posted 29 January 2006 - 03:15 PM

This was an incredibly simple, fun and delicious recipe.  At this point, I think it's safe for me to invest in a stuffer and buy some casings.

=R=

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Looks really good Ron..

As some of us have discussed previously on this list, did you find the fat to lean ratio in the pork butt satisfactory in the end product? Or did you add extra fatback to your meat mixture.

woodburner

#112 fifi

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Posted 29 January 2006 - 03:25 PM

Ronnie . . . That sausage is the spittin' image of the sausage patties that my Great Aunt Minnie used to cook and then use the pan leavin's to make her gravy to go on her incomparable biscuits. We discussed this in the biscuits and gravy topic.

I just recently got the book and will definitely try this one. The biscuits, however, still escape me. :sad:
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#113 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 29 January 2006 - 04:09 PM

I did not add extra fat and I think the fat content was just right. But, when I ordered the meat, I told my butcher that I was going to make sausage and he probably took that into consideration. Also, when I picked it up I asked him again, just to be sure, if he thought it was fatty enough for sausage or if I should buy some extra fat. He told me thought it was fine -- and it was.

But, I could see there being cases, especially when making other types of sausage, where you may want a bit more fat than what the butt alone provides. And if you (pre) order the meat from a butcher you trust, it's probably best to let them know what you're going to do with it, or they may try to be "nice" and give you some leaner stuff. Of course, if you buy the butt unbutchered, you can manipulate the ratios fairly easily, since for a 5-pound recipe, you won't have to use the entire butt and you can customize your meat to fat ratio as you cut it.

=R=
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#114 Chris Amirault

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Posted 29 January 2006 - 04:14 PM

Interesting that you're posting about the meat:fat ratio question. I just opened up a "pork shoulder butt" (trying to be all things to all people, I guess) from Whole Foods, and unlike previous cuts this one was not trimmed to excess. After eyeing it, I decided that I was going to go with no added fat, just the thick, white shoulder/butt fat that was still part of the cut. I'm very curious to see what that ratio is like.
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#115 bigwino

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Posted 29 January 2006 - 04:19 PM

I've been a busy little charcutier! What fun this experiment has been so far. I can't wait to dig further into the book.

I started with the duck prosciutto. Incredibly simple and really delicious. I used Moulard breasts from Hudson Valley Foie Gras, so they're on the large and fatty side. A couple of images:

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The family munched on some prosciutto just now and reviews were mixed. The fattiness threw off the 5 y/o and my wife. My 3 y/o and I loved it. I'm going to use some for a fig and prosciutto pizza tonight. Yum!

Then I moved on to the bacon and pancetta recipes. Here are the bellies. One naked, waiting for the pancetta treatment, one in the cure for the bacon.

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The bacon cure went much faster than the pancetta cure. I've no idea why they reacted so differently, but the pancetta was considerably less firm after 8 days. I decided to go ahead and start the drying process tonight since it seemed that it was about as firm as it was going to get.

I smoked the bacon yesterday after the 24 hours of drying. It took some time to get up to temp, but I ran a fairly constant 200 degrees using an upright smoker with charcoal and apple wood chips. It took me about five hours to get to 150 degrees internal temp. I was very pleased with the look when it came out:

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It cooked up nicely, though I found it was a bit more sensitive to burning than normal bacon. The rest of the family decreed that we won't be buying bacon (even Harrington's) anymore.

Last, but hopefully not least, I hung the pancetta to dry tonight:

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Whew! Lots of fun over the last couple of days. I think sausages are next...

#116 Chris Amirault

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Posted 29 January 2006 - 04:36 PM

I'll say you've been a busy charcutier! It all looks great. Where's the pancetta hanging?
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#117 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 29 January 2006 - 06:08 PM

Nice job, bigwino!

That really looks sensational. I too, would love to know where you decided to stash the pancetta.

I've had some trouble with my smoker today because of the wind here but all is well now and the internal temp is up to about 115 F. I didn't realize I was out of apple wood so I'm using cherry instead. Bottom line is that I've hit this belly with a tremendous amount of cherry smoke while the temperature wasn't exactly climbing in the box (I even threw the belly into the freezer at one point while I built my fire back up). Who knows, maybe that will approximate the cold smoking step to which Michael alludes in the book. :wink:

Congrats again on your results! :smile:

=R=
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#118 bigwino

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Posted 29 January 2006 - 06:09 PM

I'm hanging the pancetta in my basement. I put a cross country ski across my wine racks and hung it off of that. The basement maintains a nice 50 degree temp and 50% humidity at this time of year. I did the duck prosciutto in the same space.

I'll have to either figure out another option or not do any dry curing in the warmer months, when it gets into the low 60s down there. Not optimal for wine, probably a bad idea for cured raw meats.

Next on the list is to source some local heirloom breed hogs for future projects.

#119 Chris Amirault

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Posted 29 January 2006 - 06:10 PM

Perhaps I'm being dense, but... how do y'all measure your humidity? Do you have technology for this? Or weather.com? Or what?
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#120 bigwino

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Posted 29 January 2006 - 08:59 PM

Since I keep my wines down there, I like to know what the environment is like. I actually have two temp/humidity monitors. Nothing sexy, just stuff I bought at Radio Shack for cheap money. They both keep highs and lows, so I can see what the story is at any moment as well as the fluctuations.

I've been paying attention to them much more closely since I started hanging meat amongst the vino!





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