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Everything posted by Rubashov

  1. The general rule I usually follow in BBQing is that if it's a food (like a chicken) that you could normally roast at high temperatures in the oven and still get juicy, tender results, then it's better to smoke at higher temperatures too. The reason is that those meats have very little connective tissue. In something like a brisket or pork shoulder, that connective tissue breaks down into gelatin with low, slow heat. But a chicken that lacks that connective tissue is going to dry out. Of course, smokey chicken stock may very well be worth the detour! I would think you could come up with some killer soups with that...
  2. Speaking of Chris's duck ham, I wonder what would happen if you "hammed" (can ham be a verb?) a whole duck...
  3. Good lord, Chris, those pictures look delicious! I'm visiting the 'rents for the week and feel stranded - all I want to do is go smoke things. Talk about addiction! I did pack some of the pancetta, smoked venison sausage, and duck prosciutto in a little berverage cooler and bring it home in my suitcase. It's been a big hit with the family, most of whom think I'm half crazy for this new hobby. Anyone get a similar reaction? Jeniac, welcome to the dark side. I'm impressed - it took me 3 weeks to read the whole thread! When you do get the book, give the duck prosciutto a shot. It's a very easy recipe and a good introduction to the dried stuff. -Rob
  4. Thanks, Peter. I had the feeling that it was still worth it for the taste. On the bacon, how did you like the flavor of the cherry wood? I used hickory when I did it and thought it was a bit harsh. I'm thinking about apple or cherry next time. And Abra, I know how frustrating the BP stuff can be sometimes. The day I got my order, I realized I wanted to order the M-EK as well to try to get some white mold. With their shipping as expensive as it is, I feel like I should wait until I need a bunch of stuff before I order. Oh well!
  5. ... to acidify the sausage to the point that the deadly, but tasteless, odourless and not visually evident Botulinus bacteria can't tolerate. ← OK got it. What role does the sugar then play? Then I am back to my original question about the ME-K - does it do this job? ← As I understand from Michael's book, the sugar is what "feeds" the bacteria. Essentially, it is the sugar that is being fermented by the bacteria, thereby producing the acid that kills the bad stuff. If I recall correctly, one of the benefits of using dextrose is that it distributes more evenly in the meat mixture, making it ideal for fermentation. That said, I don't think the ME-K serves the same purpose as the Bactoferm F-RM-52 recommended in the book. The F-RM-52 is a bacteria culture, whereas the ME-K-4 consists of mold spores (Penicillium nalgiovense) in freeze-dried form. Mold spores aren't going to carry out the fermentation process, so you'd be left with an un-fermented sausage. Rather, the ME-K seems designed as a product you mix with water and apply to the outside of the drying sausages to produce white mold. If I were drying in the temperature range conducive to botulism (above 40 farenheit, I think), I don't think I'd take the chance of leaving out the F-RM-52. This, then, brings up a question I've had for a while. If the drying is being done in an environment below 40 degrees, is it necessary to use bacteria (Bactoferm) at all? In other words, is there any threat of botulism if the sausages spend their entire drying time within the so-called "safe" temperature range? Any thoughts? -Rob
  6. Not having one in front of me to compare, I gather the KA grinder is smaller than a traditional #8 grinder?
  7. Cool, glad to hear you're happy with it. There's no way I can resist the prospect of doing in 5 minutes what it takes me 45! Now all I have to figure out is how to put it past the fiance... I just cut a deal with her - she'll let me buy the deli slicer if I agree not to buy my lunch for a month. Not a bad deal - maybe I can tack on a couple more weeks and throw in the Grizzly to boot!
  8. Delicious looking andouille, Chris, and a beautiful photo essay! Out of curiosity, when you're stuffing, do you let the natural pressure of the meat pull the casing off the tube unassisted, or do you regulate it gently with your hand? I only ask because in your photos the air pockets and variable thickness suggest the former. I usually hold on to the casings right at the end of the tube, not letting casing slip off until it's nice and full of meat (but not too full so that they burst when linking). The result is usually a nice, round rope of sausage of constant diameter without many air bubbles. Do other people us a similar technique? Chris, how do you like your Grizzly stuffer? I've been holding off on buying mine until the mystery KA grinder shows up. -Rob
  9. I just put my bresaola up to hang, and good lord, does it smell good! I seem to recall way upthread people saying they sometimes had trouble keeping the larger whole-muscle pieces from drying too fast, and that rubbing in olive oil didn't seem to help much. I'm wondering if anyone's taken a page from the prosciutto book and tried spreading on some lard to help slow the drying... Thoughts? -Rob
  10. Having dug up the full information sheet BP has online (http://www.butcher-packer.com/newsarticle.asp?id=38), it looks like a mold slurry is exactly what you make with the product, either spraying or dipping the sausages. Interesting suggestion that some good cheese might make a suitable alternative (and one that you can eat the byproduct from!) I may have to hold off on the salame and experimentation with the mold, as I'm starting to bump into scheduling conflicts with my impending wedding. This charcuterie business is like having a pet to take care of! Another frustrating intersection of charcuterie and my wedding: somebody bought the KA grinder attachement off our registry (yes, I have a very understanding fiancee!) MONTHS ago but hasn't sent it yet! The wait is killing me! Don't they know how much joy and happiness it would bring RIGHT NOW? OK, enough rant for today. -Rob
  11. While we're on the subject of bactoferm, has anyone tried out the "M-EK-4 Bactoferm" sold by Butcher Packer? http://www.butcher-packer.com/pg_sausage_culture.htm If I understand the description correctly, this is the "good mold" that we want to have growing on the dried sausages. Since I remember Michael writing that the good stuff keeps the bad stuff at bay, I'm wondering whether it's a good investment for the Tuscan salame I'm considering doing. -Rob
  12. Yes, in fact Alton Brown was the inspiration (as is the case for many of my culinary adventures). They've been running his BBQ episode where he smokes with a hotplate in a couple of terra cotta pots... I also forgot to mention (in case it wasn't obvious) that it's a heck of a lot easier to toss wood chips in the pan every hour or so rather than tend a charcoal fire! I'm skeptical that it will remain cool enough for salmon once the ambient temperature gets up into the 80s/90s, but that seems like a long way off with all the rain we've had in the northeast lately. -Rob
  13. At last! I've finally made it through the "long march" of all 45 pages of this thread. At this point I feel like I know all of you like old friends, so I suppose I should introduce myself. I'm a struggling (ok, not really) grad student with a love of good meat. Though I live in a university-owned apartment, I seem to get by, with an offset smoker tucked away in the bushes for BBQ, grilling, you name it. While I've been making sausage (hand grinder - too much work!) for about a year, it wasn't until I stumbled across Michael and Bryan's book that the heavens opened up and I basked in the glory that is charcuterie. Since then (about 3 weeks ago), I've been trying like mad to catch up with all of you. Here's what I've done or am working on: -Duck prosciutto (turned out fabulous, I had to try it 24 hours before I let the fiance taste it - no sense both of us keeling over) -Pancetta is cured and drying -Bresaola is still curing -Chef Milo's venison sausage - out of this world! -cold-smoked bacon On the smoked bacon, I thought I'd share my setup in case someone else can benefit from it. As I mentioned, I have a low-end offset smoker. It leaks like a sieve and the steel doesn't hold heat well, which makes it tough to BBQ, but turns out to be great for cold-smoking. I ran an extension cord out my apartment window (2nd floor, no less!) and plugged it in to an $8 Walmart hotplate, which went in the firebox with a metal pan of hickory chips on top. The hotplate was set to high, and in a couple of minutes was producing plenty of smoke. Into the food chamber went the cured belly and the venison sausage. Over the course of 5 hours, the smoker temperature never got above 75 degrees (it was about 65 outside that day). The nice thing about the hotplate is that it produces a lot of smoke but not enough heat to really heat up the cooking chamber. The result - deliciously smoked sausage and bacon, although I've decided the hickory is a little harsh for the bacon. Maybe I'll try to track down apple next time. Of course, being a fish-lover as well, the real goal was to see if I could keep the smoker cool enough to do smoked salmon. I figured the bacon was a safe test-run, since it would be fine if things got too hot. Looks like we're in the clear, so salmon is up next as soon as the wild stuff makes its annual appearance in Costco. Anyway, hope this is helpful or interesting to someone. And thanks to all of you for the wisdom I've been soaking up during the last 45 pages! -Rob
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