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  1. Awesome, thanks so much, Dave. That was sort of the conclusion that I had come to as well, because the fat dripping pretty much stopped after a day or two, so I realized that it must have been simply draining out of the casings. Everything does seem to be proceeding as planned - no off smells, mold or anything - and I will take the weight loss into account, though I think that the actual quantity lost was probably quite small. I didn't realize that pork fat would liquify at those temps, so definitely something to be careful of in the future.
  2. After a few years making fresh sausages and occasional dry-cured whole cuts (e.g. pancetta, guanciale), I finally have the space to do some dry-cured sausages, so I hung my first ones up in my basement on Monday. I did a split batch of two recipes from Ruhlman/Polcyn's Charcuterie, the tuscan salami and a variation on the spanish chorizo. The sausages looked good, I pricked them with a needle to get rid of air bubbles, and I placed them into a warm spot overnight to incubate the lactic acid starter. Unfortunately, it got a bit warmer than I expected in there - about 95 degrees F - but that still seemed to be within the starter culture's acceptable range (up to 100). The sausages looked fine, but had wept a small amount of liquid fat, which surprised and slightly concerned me. Since then I've had them hanging in a basement at about 60-65 F and 60% RH. They continue to drip fat consistently, the chorizo a bit more than the salumi. Any thoughts? I'm obviously going to let them dry and see how it goes, but I'm curious what's going on here, and whether it's normal or not. I haven't really found any references to this in any text or on the internet. Many thanks in advance.
  3. One farmer I know outside of Boston recently confirmed that not only is the blight on her farm, it's on just about every farm in the area, all the way up to Maine. It really is going to be a rough year for tomatoes and potatoes in the northeast. She also told me that the blight arrived on seedlings grown by a very large producer in South America and sold via Home Depot and Wal-Mart. Of course, I suppose, they've already made their profit. The price will be paid by hundreds of small farmers whose livelihoods depend on their crops and their customers throughout the northeast.
  4. Yes, regarding pork rillettes my understanding is that there are two main varieties, de Tours and de Mans. (Actually a quick google also revealed Anjou, but I'm clueless as to that style.) The type in Ruhlman/Polcyn's Charcuterie is Rillettes de Mans, cooked gently with some stock and aromatics so that they they do not brown and remain quite delicate. Rillette de Tours, as I have made it, is simpler (no stock/herbs) and is lightly browned in the fat for a more robust flavor. As to your question regarding rillettes from duck confit, I'm not sure but I will say that one restaurant I know that does excellent charcuterie sometimes serves rillettes (or something very similar) that have been turned into a hot pan, crisped, and served browned-side up. They're excellent.
  5. Hmmm.. no thoughts on whether this would be a good or bad idea? The temperature is rising....
  6. Hi folks, I have a quick query regarding curing chambers. In the past, I've used a wine cooler that was passed along to me, and I've had pretty good luck with it. As the summer approaches, I'm starting a very dry curing projects (lousy seasonal timing I realize, but oh well) and as we have our first few 80-degree days, it just occurred to me that I have a few bottles of special beer and cider that should really be kept in the cooler. So here's my question--is it very risky (in terms of mold and contamination) to store bottles of booze in the same small cooler as my hanging charcuterie? I'm thinking of it as a danger to the charcuterie, of course, rather than to the bottles. If I gave them a good wash right before then go in, would that help?
  7. OK, so I decided to take down my guanciale and cut into it, and I'm wondering if perhaps I let it go too long, despite the fact that some charcutiers I spoke to told me not to worry about going too long. Generally it looks great, but the scent seems like it changed slightly from that delicious cured meat smell to something a bit less pleasant... a bit rancid maybe? I also noticed that it has a much more pronounced yellow ring around the exterior than some other pictures I see. which makes me wonder about oxidation. It fries up beautifully, and it has a nice, clean intense porky flavor, but I do pick up a hint of what seems like rancidity (unless that's just the funkiness of a heritage breed jowl and I'm projecting my fears). So here are some pictures. What do you think, did this start to turn rancid or am I just being crazy? it doesn't taste bad per se, just a bit unexpected. Again, I cured it at 55 degrees and it was a bit too humid, for two months. I kept a blanket over the cooler to keep it dark too.
  8. Hi folks! I'm a curing novice seeking a bit of guidance. I've got two beautiful cured jowls which have been hanging to dry for a while, and I'm starting to have the feeling that they're not actually drying out much anymore. I'm curing them in a wine cooler set to 55 degrees, but it has been a bit damp this summer, so I've had trouble keeping the humidity down to a reasonable level (I think it fluctuates between about 60 and 80%). About two months after I hung them to dry, they only seem to have lost about 20% of their weight. They also seem like they have a fair amount of give to them in the thickest spots, but frankly I'm not sure how much give they should have. The reading I've done indicates that dry cured sausages should lose about 40% of their weight, but I'm wondering if my jowls, which are mostly fat, might lose less (on the assumption that meat contains more water than fat). Or maybe they taking forever because it's too humid? Or because there's not enough airflow in that little cooler? Also, I know it's not critical since guanciale is usually cooked, but would it be safe to eat raw even if it's not fully dried? Thanks so much for any and all help. By the way, I cured them with the basic dry cure from Charcuterie, plus some thyme and pepper, to keep the flavor simple and porky for my first batch.
  9. Whoops, I found answers to my own questions, with a bit more searching. In case anyone else is curious, I'll share. From Newsom's web site:
  10. So... I'm a very lucky guy and I received a wonderful gift of my first-ever country ham this morning. I'm trying to figure out what I'll do with it. I'm thinking that I would like to cook most of it and use a bit raw as well. One of my concerns is that I don't have a big household, just two of us, and I don't know how it will keep in each of these states once I've cut into it. So... how will it keep, once cut, raw and cooked? Will it freeze well in either state? And can I cut a big chunk of it off with a hacksaw (for using raw), or will it be too unwieldy? Thanks... I'm really looking forward to it!
  11. Thanks so much for the helpful responses to my questions, folks. You've reassured me, and I'm making plans to start my first batch of cured stuff asap. I'll post with updates on the process...
  12. Hey folks, just became a member, in part because this thread is awesome and I had a few burning questions to ask. I've only made fresh sausage so far, which I'm now confident in after one so-so try and then an awesome second batch. I've got some really beautiful heritage-breed pork that my father raised--a belly, some scraps for sausage and a butt--and I'd like to move into dry-curing now. I'm thinking to make some pancetta with the belly and a small batch of dry cured sausage as well. So, first question: Why does the Saucisson Sec recipe NOT use a culture starter? From a flavor standpoint, I know it makes a difference, but from a safety standpoint, I'm confused. Ruhlman & Polcyn say that the culture lowers the acidity, which makes the inside of the sausage an inhospitable place for nasty bacterial growth like botulism. So why is it OK to make the Saucisson Sec without a culture? Is it just not that big a concern? I was thinking to make that recipe because it's so simple, which will showcase the wonderful pork and also be easier on me, but does the lack of a starter culture actually make it riskier than some of the other sausages? I'm a bit confused here. And now, second question: I'm thinking to buy a used wine cooler, which seem to be easy enough to find for under $100, as a curing box. Seems preferable to a fridge, since it is designed to hit that 55 degree sweet spot. I guess my only concern is whether I'll have airflow problems--as in not enough--because it's so small. Anyone have experience with a wine cooler? Do they even have fans? Thanks folks, hope I can contribute some experience of my own soon enough...
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