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Cooking & Curing from "Charcuterie": Part 1

Charcuterie Cookbook

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#181 Chris Amirault

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 09:07 PM

Ladies and gentleman of the jury, I offer the following as exhibit A in my self-defense, by reason of obsessive insanity coupled with poor food safety protocols, against charges that I have a single clue about what I'm doing:

Posted Image

Phone cords, twine, and a fan, baby! You're looking at the top of the stairwell on the third floor of our house, which thanks to poor insulation and a solid door at the base of the stairs up, stays a cool 50-55F. (Don't you like my snappy new Radio Shack hygrometer?) It's also a bit drier up there right now than people have suggested thanks to a cold snap -- and I'm assuming that drier is fine, yes?

Now I just have to hope that having this entire contraption fall twice, covering the lop yuk in, well, yuck, won't have a deleterious effect. But, then again, if things start to go wrong, I'll just start channeling MacGyver again. :wink:
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#182 mrbigjas

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 10:06 PM

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'm no italian expert, but i'm pretty sure it's pronounced basically gwahn-CHA-leh.

#183 BettyK

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Posted 10 February 2006 - 12:56 AM

Chris, your lop yuk looks great. When it's ready let me know and I will send you my mailing address. :raz:
Which recipe did you use? Now I want to make lop yuk too.

#184 Chris Amirault

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Posted 10 February 2006 - 05:10 AM

It's right here.
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#185 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 10 February 2006 - 08:20 AM

Very cool rigging, Chris! Perhaps next you can consult me on how to convert my bike shed into a smoke house. :rolleyes: :wink:

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#186 Ben Hong

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Posted 10 February 2006 - 11:52 AM

Chris, looking good. :cool:

#187 Expat Russ

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Posted 12 February 2006 - 05:49 PM

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 (???)...


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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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Byrd's had it... Thanks..BTW the chicken sausage is awesome as they say in the book...loose with some garlic, olive oil, and pasta...can't wait to grill some soon...Had my wife help me stuff the rest...she was thrilled to watch me handle hog casings :laugh:

Edited by Expat Russ, 12 February 2006 - 05:50 PM.

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#188 Expat Russ

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Posted 12 February 2006 - 05:52 PM

As promised, the next series of bacon:


It looks like you were using foodsaver bags...did you just seal or did you vac and seal?

Looks awesome....

Also too all...in the book they mention and recommend the Bradley Smoker. I've been doing a lot of research and this seems to be a good choice (esp. for cold smoking). I was looking to buy one and rig it with a McGyver type digital temperature control so that I didn't have to hang out all day with it, but I have found that the next model will have such a contraption. Lot's of good discussion about the smoker on the forums at Bradley Smoker I still haven't decided to wait as I think I can modify current one cheaper...

Edited by Expat Russ, 12 February 2006 - 05:58 PM.

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#189 SethG

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Posted 12 February 2006 - 06:39 PM

I've finally gotten started with my book, but with some very basic stuff: I'll have corned beef next weekend and dill pickles in a couple weeks. I'll try bacon and duck prosciutto next.
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#190 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 12 February 2006 - 08:34 PM

Today I had a 2nd run at sausage stuffing and it went much better than it did the first time. I corrected and tweaked a lot of things this time around.

First of all, I managed to successfully clamp the stuffer to my counter so that I could crank it by myself, while stuffing the casings. I also applied a dab of grease to the main shaft and the edge of the plunger before the run. Also before the run, I cranked the plunger all the way up and down so that the grease would coat the gears entirely. That made the cranking exponentially easier than last time. I also managed to get the casings onto the horn with relative ease.

Keeping in mind a bunch of advice I'd gotten here and from my butcher, I managed to fill the casings eventy -- but not overfill them. I had no bursts this time and I didn't worry when I noticed a few air pockets in the initial coil I laid out. As a few folks have mentioned, such air pockets can easily be remedied with a pin-prick and casings which aren't overly stuffed are much easier to successfully convert into links.

Temperature-wise, I kept things in control . Since I was working with 3.5# of chicken and 1.5# of pork fat, I was able to keep the fat frozen until the very last minute. I then ran it through the grinder with the boneless, skinless thigh meat which I seasoned last night. The spider lines, which Melkor pointed out upthread, are still there but I'm beginning to think that they're simply an innate characteristic of the casings, or the way they were processed or the way I prepped them, because today's run was so different than the last one and yet, they are still present. I realize now that last week's run was very over-filled. If anything, today's run was underfilled, yet the lines persist.

Here's a look . . .

Posted Image
These chicken sausages are actually an amalgamation of a few recipes from Charcuterie. They contain roasted garlic and roasted, diced poblano peppers.


Posted Image
'Spider' lines are present throughout, but if anything, the casings were underfilled. The lines were also present when I overfilled. Today, I could see them on the empty casings as I was threading them onto the horn but I'll admit, I don't normally notice them in other sausages. Here, they are visible in where the filling comes in direct contact with the casing and also in spots where there is a bit of air between the filling and the casing. I'm probably doing something wrong, but I'm not exactly sure what. Based on how they tasted, I'm not sure it really matters :wink:

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#191 Doc-G

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Posted 13 February 2006 - 05:57 AM

Hi Ronnie,

I wouldn't worry about these 'spider lines'.

I speak here from my previous life as a physiologist rather than as a meat guy (as I consider myself now!). I am pretty sure that these 'spider lines' are the remnants of blood vessels within the gut wall. During rest in man, a whopping 30% of the cardiac output goes to the GI tract via the splanchnic blood supply. I'm sure a similarly impressive amount is supplied to the GI tracts of the animals that supply the beautiful sausage skins that we use. After the majority of tissue is 'washed' away during the cleaning and salting procedure to make the sausage skins these lines that are left over I'm pretty sure are what is visibly leftover from the larger blood vessels.

Back with my 'meat guy' hat on now, these lines are present in the majority of the premium sausages that I have judged in competitions and are THE easiest way to see that a natural skin is being used as the 'curve' can be replicated in collagen skins.

I just changed the picture from the one I previously posted to one of some Kranskies we made today. Here the 'spider lines' are very prominent.
Posted Image

I think these lines 'show off' the fact that you have bothered to use a a good quality natural casing and are indicative of a well made sausage.

Well done.

As a side note, I am about to make my first batch of 'American style' sweet maple cured bacon from the book. The bacon we make in Australia is usually 'pumped' with brine and then held in a holding brine overnight before smoking and also incorporates the eye fillet (is this the same as Canadian bacon?). The type of sweet, streaky bacon that you guys in the US make is sure making me excited. I have just spent half the night readjusting the 'basic cure' recipe from Charcuterie to account for the curing agent that we use (ours has twice as much Sodium Nitrate to the pink salt described in the book). I'm not sure if I'll bother posting pics as so many people have already made the bacon and documented their post beautifully, but I will let you know how it tastes. I'm really looking forward to it.

Cheers,

Doc-G

Edited by Doc-G, 13 February 2006 - 07:35 PM.


#192 Michael Ruhlman

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Posted 13 February 2006 - 06:45 AM

I continue to be astonished by this ongoing transglobal thread. the dialogue is smart and helpful, the pix are fantastic, the sausage shots, from attic to kitchen are great. I'm truly impressed. brian is particularly buried at this time of year but I've asked him to look in on this forum, too.

#193 jmolinari

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Posted 13 February 2006 - 07:12 AM

This weekend i put into cure some lardo d'Arnaud, and a boneless leg of lamb, which i'll let cure for about 20 days, then hang, making lamb prosciutto. The lardo will sit in its brine with herbs for 3-5 months.

jason

#194 Pallee

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Posted 13 February 2006 - 09:35 AM

Posted ImagePosted Image

Here's my peperone after 3 weeks of hanging. It's starting to get pretty hard and no mold yet!

#195 melkor

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Posted 13 February 2006 - 09:38 AM

'Spider' lines are present throughout, but if anything, the casings were underfilled.  The lines were also present when I overfilled.  Today, I could see them on the empty casings as I was threading them onto the horn but I'll admit, I don't normally notice them in other sausages.  Here, they are visible in where the filling comes in direct contact with the casing and also in spots where there is a bit of air between the filling and the casing.  I'm probably doing something wrong, but I'm not exactly sure what.  Based on how they tasted, I'm not sure it really matters :wink:

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Are you taking the pictures with a flash? When I've had the meat folding all over itself inside the casing the obvious lines were only there in the gaps and they looked deeper than yours do now. Are the lines as prominent in person as they are in the pictures? It looks like the lines stand out much more on the outside curve of the sausage than they do on the inside curve where they aren't visible. Whatever the story is, it doesn't affect how they taste and I'm out of ideas.

Every time I read this thread I get motivated to cure more stuff. I think pepperoni is the next sausage on the list.

I've got some wagyu brisket showing up next week for my 3rd batch of pastrami. The cure is still not making it all the way through the meat, even after curing the brisket for an additional 3 days. Any reasonably ideas before I go out and buy a big ugly meat injector thing?

#196 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 13 February 2006 - 11:02 AM

Are you taking the pictures with a flash?  When I've had the meat folding all over itself inside the casing the obvious lines were only there in the gaps and they looked deeper than yours do now.  Are  the lines as prominent in person as they are in the pictures?  It looks like the lines stand out much more on the outside curve of the sausage than they do on the inside curve where they aren't visible.  Whatever the story is, it doesn't affect how they taste and I'm out of ideas.

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Yeah, I've been using the flash and I think it, somehow, amplifies the lines, visually. No worries . . . these were the best tasting batch of the 3 I've tried, so I'm becoming less concerned about it.

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#197 bursell

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Posted 13 February 2006 - 12:58 PM

Well, I took down my pancetta, but when I cut into it I noticed that there was some mold around the pepper on the inside. :sad: The meat itself looked fine, but I decided to throw it away for safety's sake. Next time I'll just skip the rolling and hang it up as a slab.

#198 jmolinari

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Posted 13 February 2006 - 01:08 PM

Bursell, i always make mine as a slab. I've always been worried about rolling it for the exact reason you point out. If you don't roll it just right to get all the air pockets out, you may have problems.

#199 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 13 February 2006 - 07:14 PM

I took down my pancetta last night. Throughout the 14-day hanging process, the ends of the pancetta became a bit hard but the majority of its length remained soft and somewhat firm. After I took it down I decided that before proceeding, I'd wrap the entire thing in a lightly-damp section of cheesecloth, put it in a ziploc baggie and keep it in the fridge for 24 hours. When I retrieved it today, I was pleased because it felt like it had softened up even a bit more overnight. The ends could not be saved, but I actually left them on from the start on because I anticipated that. Once they were cut away, the usable portion of the pancetta was still respectable in size. I don't think I did a great job tying it but I cannot see or smell any mold anywhere in or on the pancetta so I think I'm good to go.

Some pics . . .

Posted Image
Not a great pic in that the pancetta looks a lot darker and harder than it really turned out.


Posted Image
A very gnarly end. Again, I anticipated losing the ends which I why I didn't trim the pancetta before rolling it. I'm sure I'll find a good use for these.


Posted Image
The mothership and a few "offspring."


Posted Image
A closer look at a cross-section of the cured, dried pancetta.


Posted Image
This slice looks like it has uniform thickness . . . it was pretty close but I do find this much tougher to slice than the bacon.


Posted Image
A few pieces of the cooked pancetta.


Posted Image
Up close and personal . . . and it tastes even better than it looks.


I really cannot believe what a delicious pancetta this recipe produced. There were a few bumps in the road but I learned a lot from going through the whole process. I hope to fashion a curing chamber for myself before re-attempting this, because I think it will make for an even better end-product. And reading the posts above about the perils of imperfect rolling makes me think that I may not roll at all next time. In either case, I look forward to the next one.

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#200 jmolinari

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Posted 13 February 2006 - 07:25 PM

Here is a picture of a pancetta i made most recently. It is so thick because the belly is from Ossabaw Island pigs, which are a rare breed found only on Ossabaw Island off Georgia's coast. It was cured for 20 days and then dried for about 45 days. My other piece is still drying/maturing, it is now at 75 days. Yum

Posted Image

For my next batch i'll try the formula in Charcuterie.
thanks
jason

Edited by jmolinari, 13 February 2006 - 07:27 PM.


#201 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 13 February 2006 - 07:33 PM

Wow! Jason, that is just beautiful.

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#202 woodburner

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Posted 13 February 2006 - 07:51 PM

Spider lines, as some have suggested, should not exist in my opinion.

While those meat tubes look fantastic Ron, my first guess is that you are using an undersized stuffing tube to match your casings.

When you link and twist, any of those lines should dissapate.

woodburner

#203 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 13 February 2006 - 07:55 PM

Spider lines, as some have suggested, should not exist in my opinion.

While those meat tubes look fantastic Ron, my first guess is that you are using an undersized stuffing tube to match your casings.

When you link and twist, any of those lines should dissapate.

woodburner

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Interesting, woodburner. I appreciate the input. I'm going to take it into consideration on my next run.

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#204 jmolinari

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Posted 13 February 2006 - 07:55 PM

Thanks Ronnie. I've also found that after drying the pancetta has a mummified layer around it. Like you, i wrap it in a damp paper towel and put it in a zip bag for a few days. That solves the problem.

jason

#205 Chris Amirault

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Posted 15 February 2006 - 07:47 PM

After a week in the cool, dry attic:

Posted Image

It looks, feels, and smells amazing -- and comparable to the homemade stuff that I've been fortunate to have. I'm going to be making Naw Mai Fon following Russell Wong's recipe here in the next couple of days, so I'll report back about taste soon.
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#206 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 15 February 2006 - 07:57 PM

Oh, Chris, that looks fantastic. Great job! I look forward to hearing how it tastes.

Can you describe any adjustments you might make next time around?

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#207 jmolinari

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Posted 15 February 2006 - 07:58 PM

Looks good Chris. What else can it be used for?

#208 BettyK

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Posted 15 February 2006 - 11:36 PM

After a week in the cool, dry attic:

Posted Image

It looks, feels, and smells amazing -- and comparable to the homemade stuff that I've been fortunate to have. I'm going to be making Naw Mai Fon following Russell Wong's recipe here in the next couple of days, so I'll report back about taste soon.

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Wow. Your lop yuk looks fantastic. Wish I could grab a piece right now. :wink::wub:
I have a question. Your pork belly looks extra long. Was this from some extra huge pig? :laugh:
Seriously, I've never seen pork belly that long. Please do tell.

#209 Chris Amirault

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Posted 16 February 2006 - 05:17 AM

Can you describe any adjustments you might make next time around?

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I will when I cook it up. I'm particularly curious about whether or not the addition of the shaoxing wine will impart a distracting taste.

Looks good Chris. What else can it be used for?

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It will likely not surprise you that there is an entire thread devoted to lop yuk, a.k.a. "Chinese bacon": click here for that thread.

I have a question. Your pork belly looks extra long. Was this from some extra huge pig? :laugh:
Seriously, I've never seen pork belly that long. Please do tell.

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I don't think it's extra long -- it may just be the photograph. Check the one above in the stairwell for comparison. I got these rind-on strips from my favorite local Chinese market, and I think that they were cut specifically for lop yuk.
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#210 Anna N

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Posted 16 February 2006 - 06:15 AM

I am just astounded at how good this home cured bacon is:

Posted Image

It took much, much longer to reach 150F internal temperature when baked at 200F (and I checked my oven with a thermometer and it was dead on). The belly was quite thin yet it took almost 4 hours to reach temp.

I did find the first batch I fried to be a bit on the salty side so I blanched the next batch before slicing and frying it. This definitely did reduce the saltiness.

I also found it very difficult to cut thin slices with a knife from the length of the belly but once I cut the belly widthwise into two pieces, it became much easier to cut thin, even slices.

Now I am anxious to find more pork bellies and try some more variations. There is something so satisfying about curing one's own bacon.

It will make an appearance on our table on Saturday when we will be having our annual Danish Lunch.
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