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Cooking & Curing from "Charcuterie": Part 1

Charcuterie Cookbook

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#151 DRColby

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Posted 04 February 2006 - 08:49 AM

I am curious about any opinions or input about Morton Salt;s Meat cures. While researching salts I came across its site http://www.mortonsal...cts/meatcuring/. and purchased the sugar cure and tender-quick at a local grocery.
Is there something wrong with using these? (I also got some pink salt from the butcher and am using it in an attempt at Lardo.)

Dave

#152 Anna N

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Posted 04 February 2006 - 12:03 PM

My promised pork belly did not materialize but I was lucky enough to find two smallish pieces today. I have started to cure the 3lb piece and look forward to sharing photos in a week or so when it should be ready to use. I did some math on the READYCURE instructions and concluded that it was likely "pink salt" more or less and so used it as if it were. We will see.
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#153 jackal10

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Posted 04 February 2006 - 05:27 PM

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Meatloaf, but not as we know it.
Its actually the Mortadella recipe from Charcuterie, but with extra onion and without the fat cubes or pistachio,
The emulsified sausage recipe makes the best meatloaf I've had for a long time.

#154 helenas

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Posted 05 February 2006 - 05:14 PM

Looks wonderful, how this mortadella meatload was cooked? Bain marie?

#155 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 05 February 2006 - 08:50 PM

Looks wonderful, how this mortadella meatload was cooked? Bain marie?

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. . . was going to ask the same thing. And yes, it looks great, Jack.

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#156 jefferyc

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 09:37 AM

Hey thanks for the Idea. I live in an apartment as well and was wondering how to do some bacon.. Great thinking!!!

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!

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#157 Anna N

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 10:13 AM

Has anyone tried a stove-top smoker for the hot smoking? I have the smoker and was just wondering if it would work - though I don't see why not.
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#158 david coonce

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 01:58 PM

Has anyone tried a stove-top smoker for the hot smoking?  I have the smoker and was just wondering if it would work - though I don't see why not.

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It should work allright, but reduce the smoking time (because the heat source is so close to the meat) and, of course, with those stove-top smokers, removing the smoke-alarm batteries is a must!
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#159 Anna N

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 02:22 PM

Has anyone tried a stove-top smoker for the hot smoking?  I have the smoker and was just wondering if it would work - though I don't see why not.

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It should work allright, but reduce the smoking time (because the heat source is so close to the meat) and, of course, with those stove-top smokers, removing the smoke-alarm batteries is a must!

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Yeah! I can just see the neighbours panicking over the smoke alarm. If this bacon works out OK then I will repeat and hot smoke the next one.
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#160 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 09:32 PM

I got myself a sweet stuffer and tried the hot Italian sausage recipe this weekend. My plan was to make links and I got there -- neither gracefully nor entirely :wink:

I adjusted the recipe in a few ways:

included 3 cloves of crushed garlic
reduced the the fennel seed to 1 T from 2 T
added 2 tsp dried oregano to the fresh called for in the recipe
cut back slightly on the fresh basil and oregano due to packaging increments and yield

The recipe calls for whole fennel and coriander seeds. The fennel seeds are a critical element even though my primary complaint about most Italian sausage that I don't like is that it contains too much fennel seed. That's why I cut the amount in half here. The coriander seeds -- which are important flavor-wise -- didn't all get suitably crushed in the grinder and the few whole seeds which made it into the finished sausage, I found unpleasant. Next time I'll probably pre-grind them a bit after I toast them.

As for the stuffing process, the new equipment, and my first shot at handling casings, let's just say that I know it won't hurt as much the next time. You'll notice a gap in the progression of the pictures in this post. That gap is due to the fact that unless you're a well-seasoned sausage maker -- with your stuffer mounted firmly to your work surface -- stuffing is a 2-person operation. As such, my photographer abandonned her camera and came to my rescue.

By the end of the run, I had learned a tremendous amount. There's no substitute for experience or, in this case, knowing what to expect. I made a ton of mistakes and still the finished product is a delight to eat. I look forward to going at it again with the knowledge I picked up this time.

The pics are in chronological order, and I'll point out the places where that probably should have been changed . . .


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11' of 35-38 mm hog casings soaking in water.


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Filling the canister of the stuffer with the sausage mixture. I should have done this after I'd attached the horn the canister and pulled all the casing onto the horn.


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Positioning the canister prematurely. Again, the horn is not yet attached and the casing is not yet pulled onto the horn. Since it was my first time at this, it took quite a bit of time to get the casings threaded. During that time, I did return the canister to the fridge to keep the mixture cold, but it began to stiffen up which, I'm guessing, made turning the crank of the stuffer a bit more difficult.


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As condensation forms on the canister, I attach the horn to the stuffer.


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It starts out easy enough . . .


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. . . after what seems like several hours. Perhaps this would have come more naturally if I'd turned the lights out. :wink:


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Proof that it can be done! I so overhandled the casing getting it onto the horn that after making a few links and encountering several breaches, I decided to finish the run with one long coil. I did produce one length of 3 really nice links (before I encountered a burst) but I gave those babies to some friends before I could manage to point the camera at them. I'll probably twist a few links off the coil as needed.

The slightly modified recipe produced a supremely delicious sausage. A friend who is a self-proclaimed sausage hater was snarfing it down merrily. The rest of us couldn't believe she was bogarting our sausage. Luckily, the 5# batch goes a long way.

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#161 jackal10

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 01:54 AM

Looks wonderful, how this mortadella meatload was cooked? Bain marie?

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Effectively. Low oven (76C) in a Le Crueset silicone loaf tin to 65C internal temperature, then cooled in an ice bath.

I did not use a bain marie as such, since technology has advanced and we can do low temperature cooking other ways...

#162 Expat Russ

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 06:26 PM

I have made several of the sausages with much success. Would like to try the chicken sausage next...

Question: I have been to 4 what I consider real butchers...none has any pork back fat for sale. They all use it in their own sausage, or don't have any (???)...

I'm in Detroit area, so I'm going to try Eastern Market on Saturday...

Does anyone have any substitution suggestions...I don't want to make it without fat...because fat=flavor...

Thanks in advance.
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#163 Mallet

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 08:23 PM

I'm not really sure, but it might be easier to find salted fatback (I can easily find it in supermarkets). You could then desalt it by soaking in water or (faster) putting a chunk in cold water and bringing it to a boil, much like you would do with salt fish.
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#164 jmolinari

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Posted 08 February 2006 - 04:49 AM

I'm not really sure, but it might be easier to find salted fatback (I can easily find it in supermarkets). You could then desalt it by soaking in water or (faster) putting a chunk in cold water and bringing it to a boil, much like you would do with salt fish.

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Mallet, i've tried that, the salted fatback has a different flavor entirely. I wouldn't use it for sausage.

#165 MarkinHouston

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Posted 08 February 2006 - 05:51 AM

In Houston, pork backfat is available at ethnic grocers. I usually buy mine at Hong Kong Market or Fiesta Supermarkets. A larger store such as these which do their own pork butchering generates more backfat than they need for their own sausage; hence, they are more likely to have extra than a small butcher.

#166 TJHarris

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Posted 08 February 2006 - 09:54 AM

Question: I have been to 4 what I consider real butchers...none has any pork back fat for sale. They all use it in their own sausage, or don't have any (???)...


View Post



You might want to try calling Byrd's Meats on 7 Mile just east of Farmington Rd. in Livonia if you haven't already. I seem to recall having seen it there.

T.
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#167 TJHarris

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Posted 08 February 2006 - 09:58 AM

Ronnie,

I have sausage envy! :biggrin:
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#168 Chris Amirault

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Posted 08 February 2006 - 10:19 AM

Thanks to the help of folks here and using the ratios in the book as a guide, I got a 3# batch of lop yuk started this morning. Here are the fantastic strips of pork belly that I got at one of our local Chinese/Phillipino shops:

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I then mixed up the marinade with the following items:scant 3 g DC #2
10 g kosher salt
10 g sugar
50 g dark soy
50 g soy
30 g shaoxing
I started with less of the liquids but needed to add more to dissolve the salts and sugar. Here are the strips in the marinade:

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I'm going to let them sit in the fridge for a day and then hang them in the morning tomorrow in the cool attic with a fan. Pictures then as well.

edited to fix formatting -- ca

Edited by chrisamirault, 08 February 2006 - 10:28 AM.

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#169 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 08 February 2006 - 10:24 AM

Beautiful shots, Chris. I look forward to seeing the results.

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#170 bursell

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Posted 08 February 2006 - 10:51 AM

I have made several of the sausages with much success. Would like to try the chicken sausage next...

Question: I have been to 4 what I consider real butchers...none has any pork back fat for sale. They all use it in their own sausage, or don't have any (???)...

I'm in Detroit area, so I'm going to try Eastern Market on Saturday...

Does anyone have any substitution suggestions...I don't want to make it without fat...because fat=flavor...

Thanks in advance.

View Post


Even the supermarket "butcher" at my local Giant Eagle said he could order fatback for me. I would keep looking.

#171 melkor

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Posted 08 February 2006 - 11:18 AM

As for the stuffing process, the new equipment, and my first shot at handling casings, let's just say that I know it won't hurt as much the next time.  You'll notice a gap in the progression of the pictures in this post.  That gap is due to the fact that unless you're a well-seasoned sausage maker -- with your stuffer mounted firmly to your work surface -- stuffing is a 2-person operation.  As such, my photographer abandonned her camera and came to my rescue.

By the end of the run, I had learned a tremendous amount.  There's no substitute for experience or, in this case, knowing what to expect.  I made a ton of mistakes and still the finished product is a delight to eat.  I look forward to going at it again with the knowledge I picked up this time.

View Post


You'll find threading the casings onto the horn much easier if you've got it attached to the filled cylinder. Without something blocking the air flow on the back of the horn the casings will snag on the leading edge over and over again and you'll end up with small holes all along the casing. With something behind the horn you get a small air bubble at the front and threading the casings is much much easier.

One of the big problems I have with the book is the way temperature management is explained. Having the forcemeat get hot enough to start cooking will cause it to break but it makes no mention of having the forcemeat too cold to use. After mixing the filling if you let it get cold enough it'll get firm enough that you won't be able to stuff the sausages. You can see that in a lot of raw sausage photos where there are clear or white lines across the sausage from the filling folding against itself instead of merging.

You can avoid breaching the casing by cranking more slowly and adjusting the casings on the horn as you go. Slide out a little more casing if the sausage is getting over filled, pull the casing back onto the horn if its under filled. If you overfill the casings they explode when you twist off the links anyway. Small holes in the casing will weep a little liquid, just find those spots when you are twisting off the links and adjust the length of the links so you can place the hole in the pinched part of the casing where there wont be any filling to leak out.

The more I cook from this book the more limited I find it. The bactoferm quantity in the pepperoni recipe, the pork in the merguez, the weight inaccuracy for powdered milk, the excess sugar in the pastrami, the temperature explanations - most of these are things that better narration could solve, the others could be solved with a bit more research. In general I'm finding the book does a great job of motivating me to do more curing but no one seems to be very happy with using the recipes verbatim. I'm thrilled that the book is available since there really aren't very many alternatives out there. I just wish the book had more depth and better commentary.

#172 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 08 February 2006 - 11:31 AM

Thanks, Melkor, for the guidance.

Perhaps some of the deficiencies you allude to will be addressed in subsequent editions. I too, find the book highly motivating but I've also picked up a few other charcuterie books, just to help myself fill in the blanks.

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#173 melicob

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Posted 08 February 2006 - 11:32 AM

As promised, the next series of bacon:

Starting product from the good people of Golden Gate Meat Company. I got one 6 lb pork belly and asked them to split it into 3 pieces so I could try different flavors with minimal risk.
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For some reason, I thought it best to make a stout jello first. Something in my mind about making it less wet? I just sort of made it up, so no real rhyme or reason, but that's what I did.
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The three mixes (honey mustard, pepper molasses, chocolate stout)
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Rubbing honey mustard in:
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All three bagged and ready to go:
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After a week in the fridge, molasses pepper was much darker than honey mustard.
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Chocolate stout got another couple days because it was so wet still. It was still pretty drippy by the time we put it in the oven.
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All in all, honey mustard seemed to be the crowd pleaser, although pepper molasses was still quite good, just a little more savory and strong flavored. Chocolate stout was apparently quite good, but tasters for that were pretty much already in their cups, so to speak, so they weren't really providing much worthwhile feedback other than "mmmm... bacon". More after chocolate stout has been retasted by sober folks.

Ingredients (sorry, no amounts, I just kind of portioned the measurements out as I saw fit):

Honey Mustard
- honey
- dry mustard
- sugar
- salt
- pink salt

Pepper Molasses
- molasses
- black pepper
- sugar
- salt
- pink salt

Chocolate Stout
- Guiness jello
- chocolate (sweetened powder)
- brown sugar
- salt
- pink salt

#174 Chris Amirault

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Posted 08 February 2006 - 11:34 AM

One of the big problems I have with the book is the way temperature management is explained.  Having the forcemeat get hot enough to start cooking will cause it to break but it makes no mention of having the forcemeat too cold to use.  After mixing the filling if you let it get cold enough it'll get firm enough that you won't be able to stuff the sausages.  You can see that in a lot of raw sausage photos where there are clear or white lines across the sausage from the filling folding against itself instead of merging.

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Dave, can you paste a photo in that indicates these lines?
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#175 Chris Amirault

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Posted 08 February 2006 - 11:35 AM

Perhaps some of the deficiencies you allude to will be addressed in subsequent editions.  I too, find the book highly motivating but I've also picked up a few other charcuterie books, just to help myself fill in the blanks.

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Ron, what books have you been using?
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#176 melkor

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Posted 08 February 2006 - 11:37 AM

Dave, can you paste a photo in that indicates these lines?

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You can see them in Ron's pic from earlier in the thread - they look like cracks in the meat.

Posted Image

#177 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 08 February 2006 - 07:59 PM

Thanks, Dave. I wasn't sure what those lines were about. Since it was my first time out I didn't know if they were naturally-occuring -- and supposed to be there -- or if they were a function of over-handling or over-filling the casings, or what. Do you think they're a symptom of my mixture being too cold?

Chris, I've picked up 3 other books:

Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery by Jane Grigson
--Very useful from an historical perspective and a truly interesting read. This is, for lack of a better description, the charcuterie version of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. However, a lot of the recipes call for a pinch of this or a scant pinch of that. When it comes to curing salts, at least as a neophyte, I'm seeking some more exact guidance.

Bruce Aidells' Complete Sausage Book by Bruce Aidells and Denis Kelly
--Useful for its great diversity of recipes (often several for the same variety of sausage) and some brief, solid technique talk but not nearly as intense or passionate in tone as Charcuterie. Also, you really have to frown upon a guy referring to himself as "America's Premier Sausage Maker," as the cover of this book proclaims. Ugh.

Professional Charcuterie by John Kinsella and David T. Harvey
--The most textbook-like of the bunch. Some useful photos and straightforward explanations. The recipes seem pretty good, but I've only had it for a few days and haven't really read it through yet.

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#178 jmolinari

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Posted 08 February 2006 - 08:24 PM

I recommend PAul Bertolli's "Cooking by hand". It has a chapter on cured meats, and is one of the best resources.

#179 Tonyy13

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Posted 08 February 2006 - 09:18 PM

Well, I had to get in the fun here. All of you guys are doing the fresh sausages and dealing with smoking, but I have seen very little air drying and aging of sausage, so I wanted to chime in. I got the book as a self-Christmas present, as none of my immediate family or close friends knew what I really wanted. I must say, that I couldn't wait to get back from my vacation to the school so that I could get ripping into the material. My interest was primarily air-dried sausages, as I have taught, and continue to do so, classes on fresh sausages, pates, and terrine, but have (and don't really know ANY chefs) that have any extensive experience with air drying sausages and whole sub-primals other than salmon fillets or duck breasts.

Working at the school gives me the luxury of having professional grinders and sausage stuffers at my disposal, but becuase of the lack of teaching about air curing, I had to order culture and Cure #2 as well as Dextrose from Butcher-Packer. I found the website to be very easy to use, but found the Bactoferm quite expensive. The first goal was to make Sopprosatta and Finocchiona, a fennel flavored sausage that I bought when i was in Boston at Formaggio Kitchen, an awesome cheese and specialty shop over in Cambridge.

My first problem was where to age the meat. Here in Florida, we have wild temperature changes, which I knew would work against me, and the humidity gets out of control in the summer, so my solution was to hijack a friends extra fridge that he had stashed in his garage. We turned it off, cleaned it down with bleach water, bought a small fan (Wal-Mart $7) and, and installed a hygrometer (Home Depot, $17). We took out all of the drawers and racks, except for the top tier.

Hygrometer, Top Line is Time, Second Line is Temp, and Bottom Line is Humidity %
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After about a week of drying, we also installed a simple lighting timer for the fan, becuase the fan motor was creating too much heat in the drying box. We set it up to be on all day, running for 15 minutes, and stopping for 30 minutes. We found that this kept the fridge at the right temp, while keeping air curculating.

Timer
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So, I made the first batch of Sopprasatta per the book, with the exception of the Bactoferm. I tend to agree with jmolinari when it comes to the cost/shipping and the use. I found another Incredible Awesome Site with Formulas and Info about Air Curing and Fresh Sausage which listed the starter culture weight as .2g, as opposed to 20g (100X with weight!!!!!) I used 2 grams (10X the online source) in the recipe, and from what I can tell, has worked fine. I also did not have access to any wine, so I didn't put in what the book called for either. I stuffed them in beef middles, which were available at the school, and they looked great, although, the beef casings were a little bit funky smelling!!

Next, I did the finocchionna, using the formula from the above online source. No problems, and I put them in hog casings. I incubated the two sausages at room temp for about 14 hours, and hung them to dry in our souped up fridge.

I also got a gift of some pork jowels from a chef friend at the school who had some leftover from their class, so I figured that I would make some guanciale (anyone know the correct pronunciation? I can't seem to find an official pronunciation anywhere...). I got a great recipe from our friend Mr. Mario Batali found here, and everything seemed to turn out ok. Can't wait for Carbonara with fresh spring peas!!!

After about 10 days of drying, with tinkering along the way, we have ended up with sausages that have started to grow a nice looking white mold, although we have encountered some small green mold spots. Using Rhulman's suggestion, we wiped the sausages with a clean rag soaked in a heavy salt brine, with good effect. We have been checking on the sausages and guanciale every two days, tinkering with keeping the fridge clean, and wiping any colored or furry mold off of the sausage, and checking for casing hardeing or rips. Overall, minor problems, and for the first time out, I am very happy with the results up to date.

Yesterday, I made another batch of sopprasatta and stuffed it into a large collagen casing that was soaked for about 20 minutes, and also a batch of chorizo, which had recipe problems in the book. The recipe called for no fat back (I added 12 oz. of fat to the mixture), and didn't call for an incubation period even though it called for the Bactoferm (I incubated both types at the same time). Today in class, while my kiddies were figuring out the anatomy of a chicken, I was cold smoking my chorizo for about 4 hours. Went to my friends house tonight, and hung them both, did some maintenance on the fridge (clean and brine wipedown) and figured I could take some pics to share with all.

Fridge with Fan Setup
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The whole kit and kaboodle for now...
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Aforementioned Chorizo Post Smoke (Student: "Chef, Whatcha doing?" Me: "Smoking some Chorizo." Student: "Chef, you are gonna need some bigger papers for that...")

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Aforementioned large Sopprasatta in large collagen casing.
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Finocchionna (had some green fuzzies the other day, so had to wipe down. White mold is a little bit behind the first batch of small sopprasatta)
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Good mold formation on origional smaller sopprasatta...
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Guanciale, cured but not smoked pork jowel. If you smoke prior to drying, becomes pork jowel bacon, something we were lucky enough to find at a local supermarket.
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A few notes on the book and the author: I have found the book to be an extremely good portal into the world of charcuterie. However, that being said, there were definately shortcommings for someone who was trying to really understand the process fully. When I recieved my collagen casings, I had to search elsewhere to find whether or not it was edible or if I had to soak it (No and Yes respectively). I mentioned my problems with the Bactoferm amounts and Chorizo fat ommision uppost. The resources regarding curing salts etc. was very good and concise, so I was happy about that. Overall, like I said, this book is wonderfull for getting me started, but I would have never done this properly or effectively without doing a little bit more digging around in cyberspace.

I did want to say one thing about Mr. Rhulman though. I emailed him with a few questions via his website, and he replied to me within 48 hours, appologizing to me for it taking so long. It is refreshing to have someone of such stature within the industry to be so accessible, and I applaud him for that. The individual help he gave me signified that he continues to be a grounded person who is dedicated to the furthering of our great industry.
Tonyy13
Owner, Big Wheel Provisions
tony_adams@mac.com

#180 melkor

melkor
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Posted 09 February 2006 - 01:26 AM

Thanks, Dave.  I wasn't sure what those lines were about.  Since it was my first time out I didn't know if they were naturally-occuring -- and supposed to be there -- or if they were a function of over-handling or over-filling the casings, or what.  Do you think they're a symptom of my mixture being too cold?

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It's just that the force meat is too firm to fill the casing smoothly so its folding rather than ending up a continuous length of meat. It being either too cold or too dry would be my guess for the cause.





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