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Cooking & Curing from "Charcuterie": Part 1

Charcuterie

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#241 lgrass

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Posted 27 February 2006 - 08:56 AM

Tuscan Salami, Day 8

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Uh-oh ... green mold!

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Well there are some small islands of green mold on a few of them ... maybe a fan next time to keep the air moving a bit better.

#242 jmolinari

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Posted 27 February 2006 - 09:08 AM

lgrass, how do you maintain temp and humidity in your, what looks like, fridge?

#243 lgrass

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Posted 27 February 2006 - 09:38 AM

lgrass, how do you maintain temp and humidity in your, what looks like, fridge?

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I have a donated mini-fridge (as you noticed) ... I installed my own dual (heating & cooling) thermostat & a hygrostat. I have these din-rail mounted inside the fridge. I also installed a double outlet in the fridge. The cooling side of the thermostat controls the fridge, the heating side controls one of the outlets (I plugged a 75W bulb into that one for now) and the hygrostat controls the second outlet. I have a terrarium air-pump humidifier plugged into that (http://www.thatpetpl...R46JX 0542 0600)

I thought maybe the airpump humidifier would give me enough airflow to avoid a fan ... maybe not!

I cranked the heat & humidity way up for the fermentation period, then cranked down for drying. I live in Atlanta, and am keeping my house at around 60F (gas prices are sucking me dry), so I cranked the temp on the cooling side way down because using the fridge's cooling isn;t necessary. I've been trying to crack the door of the fridge a little as well to keep the air from getting stagnant.

#244 edsel

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Posted 27 February 2006 - 10:37 AM

Regarding the growth of green mold, has anyone tried inoculating with "good mold" spores? Butcher-packer sells p. nalgiovense culture (tech sheet here). Note that despite the Bactoferm™ brand, this is a mold, not a bacterium.

From the application notes:

M-EK-4 is particularly recommended for the production of traditional sausages dried at low temperature and/or low humidity. M-EK-4 suppresses the growth of undesirable organisms such as indigenous moulds, yeasts and bacteria. The culture has a positive effect on the drying process by preventing the emergence of a dry rim. Furthermore, the mould degrades lactic acid during maturation resulting in a pH increase and a less sourish flavour.

Sounds like it might be worth a try.

#245 lgrass

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Posted 27 February 2006 - 11:12 AM

Regarding the growth of green mold, has anyone tried inoculating with "good mold" spores? Butcher-packer sells p. nalgiovense culture (tech sheet here). Note that despite the Bactoferm™ brand, this is a mold, not a bacterium.

From the application notes:

M-EK-4 is particularly recommended for the production of traditional sausages dried at low temperature and/or low humidity. M-EK-4 suppresses the growth of undesirable organisms such as indigenous moulds, yeasts and bacteria. The culture has a positive effect on the drying process by preventing the emergence of a dry rim. Furthermore, the mould degrades lactic acid during maturation resulting in a pH increase and a less sourish flavour.

Sounds like it might be worth a try.

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For what it's worth, I used the "LHP" starter from this page
http://www.butcher-p...age_culture.htm

Frankly, their web page doesn't give much detail about the differences between the 3 start cultures they sell. All of the descriptions are very similar. I just rolled the dice & picked one!

I guess if I continue to have the mold problem I should switch to the one you suggested, which at least is the only one that mentions mold control.

Seems to counteract the acidification that occurs when fermenting w/ other types of starter culture, so you get less tang.

Add both & let them fight it out I suppose...

Edited by lgrass, 27 February 2006 - 11:15 AM.


#246 hwilson41

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Posted 27 February 2006 - 11:34 AM

This thread is absolutely fascinating, not to mention educational. I've read Charcuterie cover to cover at least twice since getting it for Christmas, and will be joining the fun this weekend :raz:.

A friend and I located an Amish farmer in southern Maryland who raises grain fed hogs and we're gettting 10 lbs or so of fresh pork belly on Thursday. I intend to start with the "sweet" version of regular bacon, which will be smoked over apple wood, and pancetta. At this point, my inclination for the bacon is to use Turbinado sugar in the basic cure (same amount?), add maple syrup and some dark brown sugar, and a fair amount of ground black pepper to the recipe(s) in the book. I'm looking for opinions, suggestions, or what-have-you from those who have led the way here, Ronnie, Anna N, bigwino, Chris, et al. Any and all suggestions are appreciated. TIA.
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#247 Chris Amirault

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Posted 27 February 2006 - 01:13 PM

hwilson41, that's great about your pork source. I'm curing fresh bacon belly #2 right now. The first one was a black pepper cure, and this one is a dark brown sugar cure. I'm trying to get a sense of the base line for these before I start smoking, since I'm hoping to do this regularly.

I'm also trying to convince myself that I deserve a Bradley Smoker. But that's another issue.... :wink:
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#248 Chris Amirault

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Posted 27 February 2006 - 01:15 PM

Oh, and by the way, that salmon needed an additional 24 hours -- still a bit squishy. More on that soon.
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#249 hwilson41

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Posted 27 February 2006 - 03:39 PM

hwilson41, that's great about your pork source. I'm curing fresh bacon belly #2 right now. The first one was a black pepper cure, and this one is a dark brown sugar cure. I'm trying to get a sense of the base line for these before I start smoking, since I'm hoping to do this regularly.

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Chris, I think you should buy the Bradley Smoker post haste. Tell your wife that I said it was OK :wink:.

So how did the black pepper cure turn out? Tasty, or too bland to be worth the trouble, or what? Since this is my first time out making bacon, I'm flying blind. I've made a lot of sausage, but I'm as green as you can get when it comes to making bacon (hmmm...makin' bacon...has a nice ring to it :biggrin:).
"My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne." John Maynard Keynes

#250 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 27 February 2006 - 04:21 PM

. . . I'm looking for opinions, suggestions, or what-have-you from those who have led the way here, Ronnie, Anna N, bigwino, Chris, et al.  Any and all suggestions are appreciated.  TIA.

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I found the bacon and the pancetta to be fairly simple. In fact, the first bacon I made, for which I followed the recipe in the book exactly, turned out better than the second one, which I improvised by adding some garlic and black pepper. The primary quality difference manifested as a very thin hard layer on the exterior of the belly after it was smoked.

When I cooked a few slices from the 2nd belly, instead of being consistently tender like they were from the first batch, there was a bit of hard chew along the top edge. It was still tasty but almost jerky-like in texture. I definitely don't have enough experience to say if the ingredient change caused the problem. If I had to guess, I'd guess not. It probably had to do with some other variable like the (difference in) thickness of the belly, the temperature to which I smoked it (went slightly over 150 F), outside air temperature during the process, wood type or the fact that I smoked it skin-side-up instead of skin-side-down.

As I mentioned above, I've got 2 more bellies curing this week (one exact to the recipe, another paprika-assisted), which I plan to smoke on Sunday. I'll be sure to report back on the results -- and I'll try to do a better job of noting the conditions.

I look forward to reading about your results. Good luck!

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#251 Chris Amirault

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Posted 27 February 2006 - 08:06 PM

So how did the black pepper cure turn out?  Tasty, or too bland to be worth the trouble, or what? 

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Turned out very tasty, yes, a bit too salty but the pepper edge was great. I'm curious as to how the sweeter cure will affect the pork, though, and want to taste it without the pepper. That's also partly bc that lop yuk (sans pepper) was so fantastic.
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#252 hwilson41

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Posted 28 February 2006 - 07:17 AM

The primary quality difference manifested as a very thin hard layer on the exterior of the belly after it was smoked.

When I cooked a few slices from the 2nd belly, instead of being consistently tender like they were from the first batch, there was a bit of hard chew along the top edge.  It was still tasty but almost jerky-like in texture....  It probably had to do with some other variable like the (difference in) thickness of the belly, the temperature to which I smoked it (went slightly over 150 F), outside air temperature during the process, wood type or the fact that I smoked it skin-side-up instead of skin-side-down.

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Hmmm...I never would have thought of that (smoking skin up vs down). Thanks for the suggestion. Did you smoke the first belly entirely with the skin side down? Based on zero experience :wacko:, that sure sounds to me like it might be the major culprit. I think I'll smoke my first one skin side down, just to see how it works out. I can't wait to get going on this, because I really, really love good bacon :raz:. Thanks again for the help.
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#253 tazerowe

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Posted 28 February 2006 - 08:10 AM

OK, so I finally got my copy and got started this weekend with the pate de campagne. I generally followed the recipe, only varying the spice mix a bit by substituting some grains of paradise for part of the black pepper. I also note that mine seemed to take longer than the recipe indicated to come to temperature (160F, as I had chicken livers) - probably 1.5 hours or even a little more rather than 1 hour as indicated.

I would give the results a solid "B", but not better. That said, I think I would like to try it again in a couple of areas. Most importantly, the texture is much looser than commercial pates I have tried. The edges approach a good texture, but the middle is slighly crumbly (despite being appropriately moist and pink). My two guesses are a little more mixing to develop proteins and, maybe more important, I think I would weight it longer and heavier. I did a little less than 24 hours with about 2 lbs. That didn't seem like a lot of weight at the time. Any thoughts?


A few other thoughts: my grinder (Kitchen Aid stand mixer attachment) didn't really do very much to the onion and parsley, so I would probably take more care in mincing those next time. In addition, while I did trim out my pork a fair bit, I was not 100% obsessed with getting all the silverskin, etc., and it does show a little in the final product.


The other change I would make is purely personal. Any mixture of meat, garlic and corriander just screams hotdog to me. I think I would nix the corriander and play around a bit.

#254 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 28 February 2006 - 08:53 AM

The primary quality difference manifested as a very thin hard layer on the exterior of the belly after it was smoked.

When I cooked a few slices from the 2nd belly, instead of being consistently tender like they were from the first batch, there was a bit of hard chew along the top edge.  It was still tasty but almost jerky-like in texture....  It probably had to do with some other variable like the (difference in) thickness of the belly, the temperature to which I smoked it (went slightly over 150 F), outside air temperature during the process, wood type or the fact that I smoked it skin-side-up instead of skin-side-down.

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Hmmm...I never would have thought of that (smoking skin up vs down). Thanks for the suggestion. Did you smoke the first belly entirely with the skin side down? Based on zero experience :wacko:, that sure sounds to me like it might be the major culprit. I think I'll smoke my first one skin side down, just to see how it works out. I can't wait to get going on this, because I really, really love good bacon :raz:. Thanks again for the help.

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Yes, the first time out, the belly was in the smoker with the skin-side-down (facing the heat) the entire time and I think it made a difference. I guess I'll be better able to make a determination after a few more runs -- hopefully by this coming Sunday. I'll be sure to report back.

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#255 Chris Amirault

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Posted 01 March 2006 - 02:48 PM

I've finished the salmon. Here are a few shots. First, the contraption in which I weighted down the fish:

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That seemed to work very well:

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Here's what the fish looked like when I removed it from the bag:

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And after having the fennel, seeds, and pepper rinsed off:

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It's certainly a beautiful thing:

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It cured up very nicely; the texture is great and it's very salmon-y. It's a bit too fennel-flavored for my tastes, but I've only had edge pieces. More, soon, with some cream cheese, capers, and onions on a good bagel.

Next time, I think I'd like to try it with a less intricate cure, just the sugar, salt, and pepper....
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#256 melkor

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Posted 01 March 2006 - 07:34 PM

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Is it done yet? This is in theory some beef salami, as you can see from the toe tag it's been hanging for 10 days, it's lost 40% of its weight and is reasonably firm. This is my first batch of dry cured sausage so I thought I'd get a 2nd opinion before chowing down on it. Thoughts? :blink:

#257 jmolinari

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Posted 01 March 2006 - 07:44 PM

Looks like there is some case hardening, but if the center isn't too soft and squishy probably ins't an issue. 40% weight loss is a good amount, i would probably eat it.

#258 melkor

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Posted 01 March 2006 - 08:21 PM

How would you define too soft and squishy? It's some soft, and some squishy, but certainly more firm than it was when it went into the casing.

#259 jmolinari

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Posted 01 March 2006 - 08:26 PM

I'm not sure, i've never had case hardening:)

I'd say as long as it doesn't feel wet, smell funky, and feels like a commercial salame, you should be fine.

You could leave it for another week, if you don't feel sure.

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#260 melkor

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Posted 01 March 2006 - 08:45 PM

I've got another two hanging so I put this one back with the others, I'll check on it again next week. This is the first time I've used artificial casings, so far I'm not a fan.

#261 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 01 March 2006 - 09:59 PM

Chris, that looks fantastic. Great job. I'm not a big fennel fan either, so I appreciate the scouting report.

Dave, I'd eat it (and not just because Jason said he would :wink:)

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#262 jmolinari

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Posted 02 March 2006 - 06:23 AM

I've used only artificial casings on mine so far, made lots and lots of them...
I'd like to use natural to compare flavor, but i don't want to buy a huge ass pack of beef middles (they don't seem to sell middles in small home packs). How casings are a bit small for my liking (they are like 25mm, my smallest salame uses 43mm rounds).

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#263 James Satriano

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Posted 02 March 2006 - 07:19 AM

Hello All

This is my first post on e-Gullet. I am very pleased to join you. I currently have a bresaola and Canadian Bacon curing in my fridge. The bresaola is due to hang this weekend and I will also hot smoke the bacon for about 6 hours on Sunday. One question. I noted that Food Man cured his bresaola in the fridge and thus avoided bad mold. Isn't the fridge too dry an environment? The stuff he made looked great in his pics. Any thoughts?

Jim

#264 jmolinari

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Posted 02 March 2006 - 07:28 AM

James, i tend to believe that for pieces like coppa and breasaola the fridge is too dry...i'm not sure how Foodman got it to work.
For pancetta, the flat one, not rolled, the fridge works very well.

#265 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 02 March 2006 - 08:47 AM

Welcome aboard, James :smile:

Are these your first charcuterie projects?

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#266 FoodMan

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Posted 02 March 2006 - 09:26 AM

Hello All

This is my first post on e-Gullet.  I am very pleased to join you.  I currently have a bresaola and Canadian Bacon curing in my fridge.  The bresaola is due to hang this weekend and I will also hot smoke the bacon for about 6 hours on Sunday.  One question.  I noted that Food Man cured his bresaola in the fridge and thus avoided bad mold.  Isn't the fridge too dry an environment?  The stuff he made looked great in his pics.  Any thoughts?

Jim

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Welcome aboard James. I'll try and answer your question. The fridge is too dry for proper curing of LARGE pieces of meat. For smaller one ones like the Bresaola I made, and with some maintenance, it works. See, the first time around and like I mentioned, my bresaola outside of the fridge developed nasty green mold so I did not want to risk it again. What I did to prevent excessive drying, is rubbing the beef with very little olive oil 2 or 3 times during the 2 weeks of curing. This helped keep the outside from drying too much and the end product was excellent, maybe I would add a little more salt next time around though, since it was a little on the sweeter side. I am still hoping to find a better way to cure in Houston, but for now, my extra fridge has to do.

I still have about a quarter of the bresaola in my fridge, wrapped loosly in wax paper and it is still very good and developed a thin powdery white mold, which is harmelss (right? :unsure: ). In any case I eat from it regularly and I'm still here.

All, everyone's bacon is amazing. My first Pancetta rolled and all was ready early this week. Pics to follow soon, and more bacon on the way...I'm loving this.

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#267 jmolinari

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Posted 02 March 2006 - 09:29 AM

I'm rolling my boneless leg of lamb this weekend for my lamb prosciutto. Pics to follow.

Foodman, the white mold is fine, it might not even be mold, it may be salt cristals..just wipe/cut it off...no harm.
jason

#268 Expat Russ

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Posted 02 March 2006 - 12:03 PM

hwilson41, that's great about your pork source. I'm curing fresh bacon belly #2 right now. The first one was a black pepper cure, and this one is a dark brown sugar cure. I'm trying to get a sense of the base line for these before I start smoking, since I'm hoping to do this regularly.

I'm also trying to convince myself that I deserve a Bradley Smoker. But that's another issue.... :wink:

View Post


I've been looking into Bradley Smoker as well with plans to upgrade it by installing a PID to control temperature "automatically" and more precisely.

It turns out that new models of the Bradley Smoker are coming out in May-timeframe with this feature included.

I haven't decided yet whether to wait and get this for $499 or get one of the current models for $299 + approx. $100 for modifications.

Lot's of good discussions about Bradley Smoker in their forums.

Also, this is a very good article on how to modify a fridge for dry curing:

Converting a fridge for dry curing ... I have seen this on other threads on egullet as well...I would love to do this soon...(win-win...Honey can I buy you a new fridge because I love you so much - BTW, I'm going to put the old one in the basement...that is if I can't find a cheap one around somewhere).

Edited by Expat Russ, 02 March 2006 - 12:09 PM.

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#269 Chris Amirault

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Posted 02 March 2006 - 12:47 PM

I've been looking into Bradley Smoker as well with plans to upgrade it by installing a PID to control temperature "automatically" and more precisely.

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Since I'm a technical idiot, I asked wikipedia for help:

A Proportional-Integral-Derivative controller or PID is a standard feedback loop component in industrial control applications. It measures an "output" of a process and controls an "input", with a goal of maintaining the output at a target value, which is called the "setpoint". An example of a PID application is the control of a process temperature, although it can be used to control any measurable variable which can be affected by manipulating some other process variable.


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#270 jmolinari

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Posted 02 March 2006 - 01:24 PM

A PID is most probably overkill for a smoker, a regular on/off temp controller, which can be bought for $50, would work perfectly fine. You don't need perfect control in a smoker, maintaining temp withing +-15 deg. will work, and a temp controller would do that.

Not only that, a PID may not be able to control any better than a standard controller could because of the setup and how long it takes for the probe to pick up a temperature change.

My point is, if that is the only change in the new smokers, i'd buy an old model on clearance, and add a $50 controller, and a $10 temp probe.

Let me know if you wnat information on where to buy one.

jason





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