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Curing and Cooking with Ruhlman & Polcyn's "Charcuterie" (Part 6)

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Try 'demi-sel charcuterie' as your search term. Sometimes the search engine needs a bit of context to throw up the appropriate information.


Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four.
Unless there are three other people." Orson Welles
My eG Foodblog

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Funny, I was just reading about demi-sel in the Art of Eating Cookbook. From the description in there, it sounds like it's just a generic term for mildly brined, small cuts of pork. (It's sometimes hard, reading Art of Eating, to tell which points are part of the traditional definition, and which are Behr's and, in this case, MacGuire's idiosyncratic interpretation.) The brine they offer is 3 litres water, 450g salt, 40g nitrtie, 30g sugar, 9g saltpeter. They recommend not trying to cure anything more than 3 inches thick in this brine.


Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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I went ahead and made the thing according to Peterson's method, curing it for nearly two weeks. Looks like it worked just fine, but plans seem to have changed somewhat so I may be freezing the thing instead of cooking it in the near term.

Basically just yielded a big old hunk of pork butt that's more or less firm and very very red. I'll try to remember to post results here once I cook the thing.


Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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So again only peripherally related to the book itself but seems like a good place to share. Some time back when trimming pork butt for various purposes I got tired of trying to be meticulous when trimming around the oddly-shaped shoulder blade bone, so I just cut it out quickly leaving a fair bit of meat stuck to it, and set it aside to maybe trim later. Instead what I ended up with was a partial load for the (hot) smoker so in the interest of efficient use of space, I grabbed these unscraped bones, dredged them in the standard dry cure mix from the book, then rinsed them off after a few hours and tossed the bones in the smoker. Later used them in beans like you might use a ham hock--and it was one of the best pots of beans I had ever done up to then.

Since then I have started just sort of cutting across the weird-shaped side of the bone, leaving a pretty significant amount of meat there, then following the same procedure. Each shoulder only yields one of these of course, but oh my my. I think I like them better than the standard smoked hocks that are available to me.

Not exactly the greatest innovation ever revealed on eGullet, but after another successful manufacture last night I figure I'd share. White bean & greens soup is on for tonight, using one of these.


Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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Yesterday I made Ruhlman-Polcyn's Spicy Poblano sausage recipe from Charcuterie. Since I wasn't able to find any reviews of the recipe I thought I would let everyone know how it went.

The recipe, like all of the recipes from that book, is very concise and easy to follow. I try to use weight measures in metric. The recipe called for 2.25 kilo of pork butt. and made about 2.5 kilos of linked sausage.

Something I've noticed about Charcuterie is when he calls for fresh herbs the amount in weight seems more than the imperial measures. In this recipe it calls for 3T or 48G of cilantro. I picked and weighed out 48G of cilantro and had what I would call a cup and a quarter of leaves. In fact it took a whole bunch of cilantro to get 48G.

The sausage came out very good. It is not spicy hot but very heavily spiced. The dominating flavor is cilantro but the other seasonings and poblano pepper come through nicely. It has an almost chorizo flavor with the ancho and poblano chili peppers.

so I would give it a positive review and will make it again with a few small changes. I will cut the cilantro in half, increase the poblano pepper from 180G to 250G and add in a bit of cayenne pepper to bump up the heat.

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That cilantro conversion is most likely purely the result of an automated conversion process, one that you see in a lot of US cookbooks that are trying to be nice and give metric conversions. Of course, the US measure is a volume measure, not a weight, and what many authors (or publishers) seem to do is assume that because a tablespoon of water weighs about 15g, so must a tablespoon of anything else! So they simply apply the conversion as 1T=15g, regardless of what the substance is. Obviously with most dry substances this is WAY off.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Not exactly the greatest innovation ever revealed on eGullet, but after another successful manufacture last night I figure I'd share. White bean & greens soup is on for tonight, using one of these.

Actually, I think it's pretty cool. I use something similar fairly often during the winter months. When the lady from the semi-local elk farm comes to town for the Farmer's Markets during the summer, I always give her my fall order for things she doesn't bring as standard items at the first market and she brings them to the last market in the fall. A large supply of stock bones is part of that order and part of that supply of bones are dry cured and smoked. I add a couple of those along with the non-smoked bones to get a nice smoky elk stock.


It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Not exactly the greatest innovation ever revealed on eGullet, but after another successful manufacture last night I figure I'd share. White bean & greens soup is on for tonight, using one of these.

Actually, I think it's pretty cool. I use something similar fairly often during the winter months. When the lady from the semi-local elk farm comes to town for the Farmer's Markets during the summer, I always give her my fall order for things she doesn't bring as standard items at the first market and she brings them to the last market in the fall. A large supply of stock bones is part of that order and part of that supply of bones are dry cured and smoked. I add a couple of those along with the non-smoked bones to get a nice smoky elk stock.

That sounds a-ok to me.


Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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That cilantro conversion is most likely purely the result of an automated conversion process, one that you see in a lot of US cookbooks that are trying to be nice and give metric conversions. Of course, the US measure is a volume measure, not a weight, and what many authors (or publishers) seem to do is assume that because a tablespoon of water weighs about 15g, so must a tablespoon of anything else! So they simply apply the conversion as 1T=15g, regardless of what the substance is. Obviously with most dry substances this is WAY off.

You would think with Ruhlman\Polcyn that this conversion issue would be in the opposite direction. I can't imagine they make sausage using volumetric measure.

Another issue you have with volume measures and herbs is how hard you pack it. I can get 4-5x as much cilantro in a cup measure if I really pack it in as opposed to a light pack.

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That cilantro conversion is most likely purely the result of an automated conversion process, one that you see in a lot of US cookbooks that are trying to be nice and give metric conversions. Of course, the US measure is a volume measure, not a weight, and what many authors (or publishers) seem to do is assume that because a tablespoon of water weighs about 15g, so must a tablespoon of anything else! So they simply apply the conversion as 1T=15g, regardless of what the substance is. Obviously with most dry substances this is WAY off.

You would think with Ruhlman\Polcyn that this conversion issue would be in the opposite direction. I can't imagine they make sausage using volumetric measure.

Another issue you have with volume measures and herbs is how hard you pack it. I can get 4-5x as much cilantro in a cup measure if I really pack it in as opposed to a light pack.

I would have thought so too, but the standard garlic sausage in particular is absurd if made with all weight measures--the garlic is almost hot there's so much of it.


Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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You would think with Ruhlman\Polcyn that this conversion issue would be in the opposite direction. I can't imagine they make sausage using volumetric measure.

My thinking here is that when I develop a new sausage recipe, I tend to think in volume terms: to one pork shoulder add a pinch of this, a handful of that, etc. OK, now write it down... well, that was probably about three tablespoons of X and a teaspoon of Y. OK, now convert to weight.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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You would think with Ruhlman\Polcyn that this conversion issue would be in the opposite direction. I can't imagine they make sausage using volumetric measure.

My thinking here is that when I develop a new sausage recipe, I tend to think in volume terms: to one pork shoulder add a pinch of this, a handful of that, etc. OK, now write it down... well, that was probably about three tablespoons of X and a teaspoon of Y. OK, now convert to weight.

I can see that but weren't these recipes supposedly all tried and true recipes of Polcyn's. I would have assumed that he's just scaled down from larger recipes that would have long since been codified in weights.

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That cilantro conversion is most likely purely the result of an automated conversion process, one that you see in a lot of US cookbooks that are trying to be nice and give metric conversions. Of course, the US measure is a volume measure, not a weight, and what many authors (or publishers) seem to do is assume that because a tablespoon of water weighs about 15g, so must a tablespoon of anything else! So they simply apply the conversion as 1T=15g, regardless of what the substance is. Obviously with most dry substances this is WAY off.

You would think with Ruhlman\Polcyn that this conversion issue would be in the opposite direction. I can't imagine they make sausage using volumetric measure.

Another issue you have with volume measures and herbs is how hard you pack it. I can get 4-5x as much cilantro in a cup measure if I really pack it in as opposed to a light pack.

I would have thought so too, but the standard garlic sausage in particular is absurd if made with all weight measures--the garlic is almost hot there's so much of it.

Agreed. I had been using it as a base recipe for a couple of things I was trying out and the garlic was always too much.

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I'm glad I read that about the garlic sausage since I was thinking about making that one. If you were to make it again how much do you think you would use?

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Agreed: I made it using the volume measurements a LONG time ago and thought it was excellent.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Hi! This is my first post on the eGullet forums. I've made several recipes out of Charcuterie, including multiple batches of fresh sausage and one whole pork shoulder's worth of dried fermented sausage (peperone, which was fantastic, and calabrese salami, which was merely delicious). I would say that as far as sausage goes, I have just about attained the rank of "novice"; I can go off-book and make some pretty damn good sausage without a recipe. But today? Today I make bacon.

I have a 6.5 pound chunk of pork belly with the skin and the ribs still attached, courtesy of our local Asian supermarket. And I have a Little Chief smoker, which objectively sucks, but I got it off of Craigslist for a song, as well as a New Braunfels offset oil-drum smoker. I'm going to do a pretty simple brown sugar cure on the pork belly, but should I cut the ribs off or leave them on? And should I try a cold-smoke in the Little Chief, or just give it up and hot-smoke in the offset smoker, affectionately referred to as Puffing Billy around here?


Edited by Kathryn T. (log)

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Welcome to the eG Forums, Kathryn. The last time I made bacon I left the rib on: the folks from Modernist Cuisine say that you can eek a little more flavor out of them that way. I generally hot-smoke bacon: it's great cold-smoked too, but for the first go I'd just follow the Ruhlman/Polcyn recipe, which I believe calls for hot-smoking.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Possible bacon disaster!!

I had my chunk of pork belly in the cure, as instructed, for a week. Overhauled it every day. When I went to put it into my damnably small smoker, it wouldn't fit, so I sliced a small bit off the end to make it the right size. . . and while there was an obvious ring of good-looking, dark red cure, the inner part of the cut end looked disturbingly like raw pork.

I am nothing if not willing to soldier ahead, so I went ahead and slapped it into the (cold, thankfully) smoker. But after about three hours, I began to fret, and I lifted the little chunk out. . . and yeah, it was really, really not cured in the middle. I sliced it up and fried it up and tasted it;the outside bits taste like bacon, and the inner bits taste like a smoked pork chop.

After consulting with my father, who has never made bacon but who is an excellent cook and an organic chemist, I made a new batch of cure and threw it back into the fridge. What went wrong? The belly is skin-on, ribs-on, and about 2.5" thick; do I just need to cure it for longer? Can it even be saved? Assuming I can fix it with a longer cure, how long should I leave it in there?

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Possible bacon disaster!!

I had my chunk of pork belly in the cure, as instructed, for a week. Overhauled it every day. When I went to put it into my damnably small smoker, it wouldn't fit, so I sliced a small bit off the end to make it the right size. . . and while there was an obvious ring of good-looking, dark red cure, the inner part of the cut end looked disturbingly like raw pork.

I am nothing if not willing to soldier ahead, so I went ahead and slapped it into the (cold, thankfully) smoker. But after about three hours, I began to fret, and I lifted the little chunk out. . . and yeah, it was really, really not cured in the middle. I sliced it up and fried it up and tasted it;the outside bits taste like bacon, and the inner bits taste like a smoked pork chop.

After consulting with my father, who has never made bacon but who is an excellent cook and an organic chemist, I made a new batch of cure and threw it back into the fridge. What went wrong? The belly is skin-on, ribs-on, and about 2.5" thick; do I just need to cure it for longer? Can it even be saved? Assuming I can fix it with a longer cure, how long should I leave it in there?

May be too late to help at this point but here goes:

When you say you put the bacon on the smoker cold do you mean that the meat was just cold or were you cold smoking?

If you were cold smoking, you should have no problem whatsoever with putting it back in to cure longer.

If you were hot smoking, it probably depends on what temp your meat came up to during the three hours. I still don't think it's likely to hurt anything but there might be some texture issues.

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Need some help here.

I have a 4 lb pork belly, about 2" at it's thickest and 1" thinnest, no bones or skin, curing in the fridge for 4 days now, and there is no liquid.

I got the belly frozen from our local butcher. Used the basic rub recipe from the book but used brown sugar instead of white. By weight it was 16oz Mortons kosher salt, 8oz brown sugar, 2oz pink salt. Mixed well and rubbed 2oz of this mix over the belly.

I thought the 2oz of basic cure seemed not enough, but what do I know, followed the recipe anyway as I don't want to over do it with the nitrites. I calculated the total pink salt used after I applied it and it did come out about right for 4 lbs of meat, didn't write it down though.

Then I had to leave town unexpectedly for 3 days, my daughter turned the bag over every morning for me. Got back yesterday and it's nearly dry in the bag. Does the liquid get re-absorbed during the cure and I just missed it? My daughter doesn't remember seeing any liquid in the bag, but she just turned 18 and I wouldn't expect her to notice if I didn't ask her to look for it. There are no signs of a bag leak in the fridge.

This morning I checked the remaining rub, the salt looks well distributed, it weighs what it should after removing the 2oz I applied. The belly does feel firm to me, but I don't have an uncured one to compare it to so that doesn't mean anything, guess I'll pick another one up today for round two and then I can compare.

One other thought. The belly was frozen wrapped in a sheet of white paper only, no indication of how long it had been stored like that. Could it have dried enough under those conditions to account for this? It is pretty dry here in Colorado. And if that's the case the lack of liquid means any uneven application of the rub would leave the resulting cure that way too, probably not good.

Since the basic bacon recipe calls for a 2.5lb to 5lb belly I'm tempted to just add rub up to the concentration a 2.5lb belly would have had and give it a few more days like that, another 1.2oz.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts. I'm excited about this and can't wait to smoke this puppy in my big steel keg @150F, I'll be very disappointed if I screwed it up somehow, and if I have I hope it can be saved. The butcher has more bellies so there is no need to take even small chances.

One other question comes to mind while I'm at it. Since I can hold the big steel keg at 150F fairly reliably for as long as I want is there any harm in extending the hot smoke time until I think I've got enough smoke on the belly? Sort of an air/smoke souse vide I guess. I'll have a probe thermometer in the belly so I'll know internal temp, no worries there.

Thanks all,

Larry


Edited by larryroohr (log)

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Your bacon should be just fine, you're at about the correct cure level.

It's not uncommon for good well-fatted pork bellies to cure out with little or no residual liquid.

About the smoke, I'm a strong advocate of cold smoking bacon (hot smoking bacon is a relatively new and inferior method, IMHO), the finished product is far superior to hot smoked.


Edited by DiggingDogFarm (log)

~Martin

Unsupervised rebellious radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, self-reliant homesteader and adventurous cook. Crotchety cantankerous terse curmudgeon, nonconformist, contrarian and natural born skeptic who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it! 

 

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Thanks DDF,

With your advice, a very helpful phone conversation with 'Dave the blind meat cutter', and one google result I found I'm at ease now. I did add about 4oz of water and maple syrup mixed to aid distribution of whatever is left on the outside of the belly over the next few days.

I'll try cold smoking with the next belly I do, already bought one for a firmness comparison. I need to figure out how to do it first though. I already have a controlled air intake port on the keg that I could blow in cooler smoke with, ought to be able to get something to work with that. I'm sure there is plenty of good info out there.

If this turns out nearly as superior to commercial products as the bratwurst I made last night I will not be disappointed. Damn it's good, well worth the effort. Had a heck of a time with the stuffer though, need to figure out what I'm doing wrong there, the meat kept busting out the side of the hog casing. In the mean time there wasn't anything wrong with the brat pattie sandwich I had for dinner, yum. My daughter gave it a big mmmmmmmmm, and she has zero interest in flattery when it comes to my cooking, bless her heart.

Larry

 

 

 

 

[Moderator note: This topic continues here, Cooking with Ruhlman & Polcyn's "Charcuterie" (Part 7)]


Edited by Mjx Moderator note added. (log)

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