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Cooking & Curing from "Charcuterie": Part 1

Charcuterie Cookbook

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#121 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 30 January 2006 - 01:16 PM

I'm happy to report that the bacon I made turned out absolutely delicious. The final stages took a bit longer than I anticipated. Between some trouble with the smoker and relatively high winds, I estimate that it smoked for about 7.5 hours over cherry wood. This may not have been a bad thing since it was exposed to smoke for much longer than if things had gone according to schedule. The finished product is great -- it's intensely salty and sweet but it also really tastes like pig, which I don't normally find to be the case with purchased bacon. Even the edge pieces are tender and perfectly chewy.


Here are a few pics of the process . . .

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Raw bellies, skin-side up.


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Raw bellies, meat-side up.


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Bacon cure; a viscous and grainy paste.


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Shmearing the cure over the belly.


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Detail of cure on surface of pork belly.


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Pork belly covered with cure.


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Pork belly in bag after 2 days of curing. Notice that the paste has changed to liquid.


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Pork belly on day 8, after the cure has been rinsed off.


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Detail of cured and rinsed belly. Surface has a sheen which was not present on the raw belly.


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It's officially bacon now. This is the belly after it was smoked over cherry wood to an internal temperature of 150 degrees F.


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Detail shot of smoked, cured bacon.


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Removing the skin from the finished bacon.


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"Raw" bacon slices.


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The finished product. Absolutely delicious!

=R=
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#122 angrykoala

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Posted 30 January 2006 - 01:43 PM

Oh, wow. Inspiring post, ronnie! Actually, your post has just sent me out the door to pick up my own copy of Charcuterie.

#123 McDuff

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Posted 30 January 2006 - 02:29 PM

Oh, wow.  Inspiring post, ronnie!  Actually, your post has just sent me out the door to pick up my own copy of Charcuterie.

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I had a quick look at at while at New England Mobile Book Fair recently. Was looking for Dan Lepard, had to order him from England, but now this book is definitely coming home.

#124 jmolinari

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Posted 30 January 2006 - 02:40 PM

Chris, you need a hygrometer, it measures relative humidity. They are available just about anywhere both dial and digital.
jason

#125 bigwino

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Posted 30 January 2006 - 04:22 PM

Ron, that's a great job of photojournalism. The bacon looks terrific.

It's interesting how much lighter your bacon turned out than mine. I would've expected it to be darker given the long smoking time. Maybe it's the difference in apple vs. cherry smoke?

Are you keeping the skin? I've held on to it and think I might add some to a batch of baked beans to see what they'd do to it.

How's the pancetta coming along?

#126 fifi

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Posted 30 January 2006 - 05:45 PM

. . . . .
Are you keeping the skin?  I've held on to it and think I might add some to a batch of baked beans to see what they'd do to it. 
. . . . .

View Post


I am not participating here . . . yet . . . but I had to comment on the bacon skin. Well, not just comment, I am lusting after it. I will probably have to do bacon just to have the skin. (Just got the book.)

A couple of years ago we did a leg of venison, seasoned with herbs and such then completely wrapped in pig skin. I had gotten some pretty big sheets of it at a Latin butcher shop. It went into the oven for a long slow roast. That was probably one of the best leg-o-bambi we have ever done. I could only imagine it with bacon skin.
Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

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#127 Chris Amirault

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Posted 30 January 2006 - 05:49 PM

Now this is why I'm on eGullet: bacon-skin-wrapped leg of lamb. You are a frickin' genius, Linda.
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#128 fifi

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Posted 30 January 2006 - 05:53 PM

Now this is why I'm on eGullet: bacon-skin-wrapped leg of lamb. You are a frickin' genius, Linda.

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Well, it was Bambi, not Lambchop. :laugh: But that doesn't mean that leg of lamb wouldn't work as well. I kind of dreamed it up. No kidding. I had been in the market with my nephew a week or so prior and had probably seen the pig skin. Then dreamed about it. Or, maybe I saw it somewhere here then dreamed it. Wouldn't surprise me. :wacko:
Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

#129 Chris Amirault

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Posted 30 January 2006 - 05:55 PM

Sorry -- I had already started planning a weekend dinner in me head. :wink:
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#130 bursell

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Posted 30 January 2006 - 06:50 PM

I had the same problem with the pancetta not firming up. I left it in the cure for an extra day and a half, then I decided to hang it anyway. It's in the hanging phase now.

#131 MollyB

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Posted 30 January 2006 - 07:22 PM

I got Charcuterie for Christmas, and last weekend I finally had the chance to try some of the recipes. I made the chorizo, and it was fantastic! The mix of chile powders and hot paprika was great, and the little bit of tequila and vinegar mixed in at the end really perked it up.

My bacon wasn't quite as successful. I did the basic bacon recipe with some maple syrup in the cure. I let it cure for a week, let it dry out, then smoked it in a Weber grill with some applewood. It was cold and windy, and we (or rather, my husband, as I thought it was too windy and voted for just the oven method) were having trouble keeping the temperature up, so after a couple of hours we moved it to a low-temp oven to get up to the proper temperature. When we cooked some up after it cooled, I found that it was too sweet and not salty enough (for our tastes, at least).

My questions:

1) If the bacon wasn't really salty, did it not cure for long enough? I felt the sweetness from the maple syrup was really overpowering. How exactly are you supposed to tell if your bacon has cured for long enough?

2) When you use wood for smoking, do you want green wood or drier wood for smoking? We have a couple of apple trees - can we just chop off some pieces for smoking, or should the wood dry out first?

I hope someone can help with my questions!

#132 snowangel

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Posted 30 January 2006 - 07:29 PM

2) When you use wood for smoking, do you want green wood or drier wood for smoking? We have a couple of apple trees - can we just chop off some pieces for smoking, or should the wood dry out first?

I hope someone can help with my questions!

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I haven't got the book or tried the bacon, so can't answer that. But, I do know that you want to use dry wood. Not green. Cut down some pieces and use them in a year.
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#133 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 30 January 2006 - 09:00 PM

Ron, that's a great job of photojournalism.  The bacon looks terrific. 

It's interesting how much lighter your bacon turned out than mine.  I would've expected it to be darker given the long smoking time.  Maybe it's the difference in apple vs. cherry smoke?

Hmm . . . dunno, but I'm pretty sure it means I did something wrong :wink: In all seriousness, maybe it comes down to some variable in the cure. I used C&H light brown sugar (because it's all I had on-hand) and Grade A Dark Amber Vermont maple syrup. Perhaps it was the cherry wood. Maybe it's temperature-related. I'm really at a loss.


Are you keeping the skin?  I've held on to it and think I might add some to a batch of baked beans to see what they'd do to it.

Definitely keeping the skin -- it's wrapped in the fridge -- but not sure what I'm going to do with it. One thing I thought of was making stock from it and then using that stock in a batch of jambalaya -- and then including it if ends up being palatable.


How's the pancetta coming along?

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It's hanging, rather eerily, in my garage. It's about 50 F in there and about 50% RH. Of course, these attributes are merely recorded and not controlled, so I hope the weather stays fairly even for the next 2 weeks.


Here are the pics, up to now . . .

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The prepared rub.


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Pork belly completely covered in cure. I dumped the cure into a 2-gallon ziploc and "Shake & Baked" it from there.


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This is the belly after 10 days of curing. It didn't feel very firm after a week and didn't feel much firmer on Day 10. Almost no residual moisture was present in the bag. Perhaps it was reabsorbed into the cure. The aroma coming off this thing was just intoxicating.


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Detail shot of the cured belly before rinsing.


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The flesh of the pancetta seems much darker in color than the flesh of the bacon, after curing.


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Adding the coarsely ground black pepper to the meat side of the belly.


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Pressing the pepper into the meat.


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Tightly rolling the pancetta, lengthwise.


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Tying up the pancetta. The picture doesn't quite reveal the struggle I had with this step. :wink:


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Completely corralled. It was a close battle . . . but I emerged victorious. :biggrin:


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Hanging in the garage. FYI, the outlet you see in the background is actually on the ceiling.

=R=
"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

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#134 Doc-G

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Posted 30 January 2006 - 09:50 PM

Hi

I just received my copy of Charcuterie in the post from Amazon in the US. I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate Michael and Brian on producing such a great book and making all this information accessible to the average home chef.

Again, well done.

Cheers,

Doc-G

#135 Abra

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Posted 30 January 2006 - 10:24 PM

Ok, this page alone has convinced me. I've got to get this book and play with you guys. That bacon!

#136 Chris Amirault

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Posted 31 January 2006 - 05:12 AM

Ron, thanks for the great shots of this process. Your bacon cure was wet, I think; I rechecked the book because mine was dry. Was that bc you added the maple syrup? I wonder what effect dry v wet has....
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#137 bigwino

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Posted 31 January 2006 - 05:48 AM

Ron, thanks for the great shots of this process. Your bacon cure was wet, I think; I rechecked the book because mine was dry. Was that bc you added the maple syrup? I wonder what effect dry v wet has....

View Post


Chris, my cure was similarly wet, just like Ron's. I did use the maple syrup called for in the recipe. It made for a very messy application. I put the belly in the ziploc and then put on the rub by the handful . I ended up with crusty maple rub up to mid forearm. It was worth whatever mess was made.

Did you use extra maple sugar instead? Or, were you going for a different curing flavor?

Ron, the only difference in our cure was the maple syrup. I used #2 very dark amber from Trader Joes. I'm guessing it's the difference in the smoke.

#138 nypork

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Posted 31 January 2006 - 07:16 AM

bigwino-great stuff
I just started with the duck-mines been hanging for 10 days now and has a little squish still in it-how long did you hang the duck and actually how hard were the breasts when you were finished?

thanks

#139 jsolomon

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Posted 31 January 2006 - 07:30 AM

I've smoked some bacon using some techniques other than described here (I didn't get Charcuterie, but my father did for Christmas), and I'm curious about your temperatures.

Could someone please discuss a little the differences you get smoking your bacon to an internal temp of 150F instead of cold-smoking your bacon?
I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

#140 jmolinari

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Posted 31 January 2006 - 07:35 AM

I was wondering the same thing. Bacon is normally cold smoked..you guys are hot smoking it, making it a piece of smoked meat..wondering how different it tasted to regular bacon
jason

#141 bigwino

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Posted 31 January 2006 - 07:38 AM

bigwino-great stuff
I just started with the duck-mines been hanging for 10 days now and has a little squish still in it-how long did you hang the duck and actually how hard were the breasts when you were finished?

thanks

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Hi nypork,

I hung the duck breasts for a total of about 9 1/2 days. They were not hard when I finished them, but were quite firm. If you look at the pic, the darkest red was pretty dry and stiff and then the lighter red is more like the consistency of standard prosciutto. It's velvety and soft, but not wet or squishy.

One thing I forgot to mention before, I accidetally left my duck in the salt for about 48 hours, not the 24 called for in the recipe. It doesn't seem to have hurt the duck in any way, but thought I should mention it. Maybe the extra time was good considering the thickness of the Moulard breasts.

Are you using Moulard breasts? What's the humidity where you're hanging them?

#142 bigwino

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Posted 31 January 2006 - 07:49 AM

I was wondering the same thing. Bacon is normally cold smoked..you guys are hot smoking it, making it a piece of smoked meat..wondering how different it tasted to regular bacon
jason

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It's not really fair to compare this to store-bought bacon, since it's better! It is stiffer when "raw" than cold smoked bacon and seems to cook considerably faster in my (so far) limited experience with it.

The taste is excellent. It's far better than standard store bought stuff. Harrington's, Nodine's and the like are also excellent, IMHO. Maybe I'll have to set up a tasting and see how they compare side by side!

#143 jmolinari

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Posted 31 January 2006 - 08:12 AM

Clearly, being on egullet, by "regular" bacon, i meant premium small smokehouse bacon:)

#144 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 31 January 2006 - 08:33 AM

I've smoked some bacon using some techniques other than described here (I didn't get Charcuterie, but my father did for Christmas), and I'm curious about your temperatures.

Could someone please discuss a little the differences you get smoking your bacon to an internal temp of 150F instead of cold-smoking your bacon?

View Post


I was wondering the same thing. Bacon is normally cold smoked..you guys are hot smoking it, making it a piece of smoked meat..wondering how different it tasted to regular bacon
jason

View Post


Since this is my initial foray, I can't speak to the differences. In the book, Michael and Brian allude to the fact that bacon is usually cold smoked first, then hot smoked. In my case, it was really hard to keep the temperature up in the smoker because of the winds on the chosen day. As such, on two occasions I returned the belly to the freezer while I rebuilt my fire. Perhaps this helped to approximate cold smoking, or maybe not. In the end, the belly received a lot of smoke while on its way to 150 F -- more than double the 3 hours which the book estimates will be needed. There was a good deal of time when the temperature in the smoker cabinet was hovering right around 100 F.

As for the final product, there is almost no difference -- texture-wise -- between it and the Nueske bacon, which I normally purchase. Flavor and aroma-wise, it's its own deal but certainly within that range which makes it instantly recognizable as bacon.

I like the cure a lot (yes, I did use some maple syrup) but I plan to adjust it a bit the next time by adding a tiny bit of garlic and maybe, some cracked black pepper.

=R=
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#145 Chris Amirault

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Posted 31 January 2006 - 08:56 AM

Ron, thanks for the great shots of this process. Your bacon cure was wet, I think; I rechecked the book because mine was dry. Was that bc you added the maple syrup? I wonder what effect dry v wet has....

View Post

Chris, my cure was similarly wet, just like Ron's. I did use the maple syrup called for in the recipe. It made for a very messy application. I put the belly in the ziploc and then put on the rub by the handful . I ended up with crusty maple rub up to mid forearm. It was worth whatever mess was made.

Did you use extra maple sugar instead? Or, were you going for a different curing flavor?

View Post

I just did the basic rub with cracked black pepper; I wanted to get some kind of baseline sense of the flavor before messing around with sugar. More soon -- I roasted it and it's in the fridge.
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#146 jsolomon

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Posted 31 January 2006 - 09:13 AM

Something similar to this is how my family has done it. The bacon turns out significantly differently than store-bought.

Michael Ruhlman, could you weigh in? Alton Brown? Tony Bourdain? FG?
I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

#147 FoodMan

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Posted 31 January 2006 - 12:39 PM

You folks (especially Ron with these awsome pics) are an inspiration to all of us. I cannot believe I have not tried to make the bacon yet!

In the meantime I am happy to announce that my second batch of Bresaola came out much better than the first one (which ended up in the trash due to mold). this one was hung in the fridge to dry for 2.5 weeks and lost a little under %30 of its weight. Since this is Houston, and unless I get me a curing chamber, the fridge has to be the way to go. I did rub it with a little olive oil to prevent excessive drying on the outside and I think it helped a lot. Here is what I had for dinner a few days ago

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Thinly sliced with celery greens, romain, olive oil, shaved parmesan, capers and some lemon juice.

The meat is very tasty with a good beefy flavor and herbs, but a little on the sweet side. Is there any harm cutting back or even eliminating the sugar?

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#148 jmolinari

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Posted 31 January 2006 - 12:46 PM

foodman, teh amount of sugar you put in the cure is up to you. I like to have some in my bresaola cure, but not much. I don't remember how my cure recipe compares to Ruhlman's..but i can get you mine if you like.
jason

#149 McDuff

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Posted 31 January 2006 - 03:30 PM

I bought the book today and have spent the last couple of hours sitting and reading, rather than figuring out how to brace the floor and move the plumbing around to get the soapstone sink in. It's a nasty late afternoon with sleet and stuff, but I just may run out to get some casings to soak so I can start some sausage tomorrow.

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This is what I plan on using to grind and stuff. Is this going to work all right? I find that when you take out the die and the blade, there is nothing to support the end of the auger shaft and it flops around a bit, but I'm hoping that the meat will support it as it runs through.

On another note, I have a technical grammatical point for Michael Ruhlman. I know he reads this thread. Now, I'm not a published author with any kind of credentials, though I did do a lot of writing in college both for the newpaper and fine arts magazine. It's not like I don't have any background. I'm very curious how prepositions come to be missing, seemingly randomly. There are instances in the book of "couple pounds", "couple days", but I also noticed "couple of weeks". Is this editing? Is the book dictated, and then transcribed, because that's pretty much how people talk. I'm sorry to say, I'm always disappointed when I see that usage, which I've looked into in the style books at Barnes and Noble, and it is acceptable. I just wonder what's up with that? I used to sit at the typewriter and really ponder, to really try and craft the way I wanted the words to sound. There just seems to be something missing when I see the word "couple" run into another word without the buffer of "of".

#150 Pallee

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Posted 31 January 2006 - 04:30 PM

My neighbor, the duck hunter, delivered 4 more ducks to my door last night. Today I turned them into the duck sausage with sage and roasted garlic. I added some sauteed shiitakes and fresh thyme, but otherwise followed the recipe. YUM!

My peperone's are still drying nicely in the wine cellar. I have a remote thermometer which also displays humidity so it's easy to keep an eye on that aspect. I'm hoping they'll be done in time for the Ides of March dinner.





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