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

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I am seriously thinking of trying to make a lamb bacon I just cut cut up a (Eastern Washington ..best on the planet I think)  lamb we bought this week ...and there is a really nice belly on it I do NOT want to do anything to overwhelm it

suggestions on brine time and smoke? I was thinking something light but am not sure

...help on the lamb? thanks  (I have the book and love it but there is nothing like someone telling you what they have done to help this come out great!)

I would think that it may be a bit strange. Lamb fat is "gamey" as opposed to pork fat ...

Bud

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I know some people find lamb fat "gamey" at least I have heard this...but I am sure it is because of what that lamb ate or the type of lamb maybe? ..the fat on the lamb I get is absolutely wonderful that is why I buy lamb this time of year instead of the early spring

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I know some people find lamb fat "gamey" at least I have heard this...but I am sure it is because of what that lamb ate or the type of lamb maybe? ..the fat on the lamb I get is absolutely wonderful that is why I buy lamb this time of year instead of the early spring

It's probably a bit of both, I would guess, but I suspect that the breed of sheep would make a lot of difference in the gamey taste. I've had some very young lamb that was extremely strong-flavored, and some much older that was relatively mild.

Just checked this agricultural article:

http://livestocktopics.wsu.edu/Presentatio...ty/sduckett.pdf

Apparently, the breeds with finer wool (Merino etc) have stronger-flavored meat. I don't know why I hadn't thought of it, but in addition to the breed and what the sheep are eating, the flavor can be affected quite a lot if they are finished on grain.

I think the idea of lamb bacon is brilliant! Good for you! I'm anxious to hear how it worked.

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I know some people find lamb fat "gamey" at least I have heard this...but I am sure it is because of what that lamb ate or the type of lamb maybe? ..the fat on the lamb I get is absolutely wonderful that is why I buy lamb this time of year instead of the early spring

I brine lamb belly for one week in a simple brine of 1 gallon water, 3/4 cup salt, 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, and 1/2 cup crystal hot sauce. After a week, I rub it with a tasso rub that has paprika, cayenne, onion powder, garlic powder, and other dried spices. Then smoke to internal temp of 150. It's best eaten right out of the smoker, but it does hold well.

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Thank you! I can not wait to try the lamb! I am glad someone has done this!!! I have had all kinds of smoked lamb and some have been good and some awful ..the smoke on some lamb sausage I have tried contrasted rather than complimented it ...CookingKid what smoke do you use?

my bacon came out fantastic in spite of my letting go of control to my husband!!! and the ham hocks OMG if you have not made them and are into smoking and brining ...the recipe in the book is great! I pretty much stuck to the brine/smoke time process but changed things a bit to 50/50 brown sugar and salt ...a tiny bit of pink salt ...then smoked over a mix of 2 parts apple/1 part alder/1part hickory I just had half of one for breakfast as the tester and the salt/sweet/smoke ..wow...it was the best hamhock I have ever eaten!!!

OK it is crazy not to make your own bacon for sure decent locally smoked bacon from the butcher here runs over 7 bucks a lb ...mine was $1.98/lb total!!! my ham hocks were 1/2 the cost at least and 29457 times better !!!!

I can post pics when I am off work for sure if anyone wants to see my smokey goodness :)

any more tips on the lamb?

I am going to order a pig from Eastern WA right after Christmas it must be the sage brush and tumble weeds but pork, goat and lamb from there tastes out of this world ...so if you have the chance try it!

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Lamb bacon sounds amazing. I'm drooling at the thought of it.

Anyway, yesterday I made pate de campagne from R&P's recipe. It's meant to be served at Thanksgiving, but I tried a little bit this morning and am very pleased. I may just have to have a pate sandwich for lunch today.

I do have two minor complaints: first, R&P are a little misleading about the size and shape of cooking vessels, saying that it doesn't really matter. I used a wide-ish loaf pan, which meant that the outside of the pate was done a good while before the inside was. Not a huge problem-- pate seems pretty forgiving-- but in the future I'll make a point of using a long, narrow pan.

Also, the volume/weight listings in the recipe are way out of whack. For example, the recipe calls for minced garlic: 1 1/2 tablespoons or 24 grams. I weighed everything out: 24 grams of minced garlic was at least three tablespoons. The same goes for other ingredients (onion and parsley in particular). Again, it's not a huge problem (especially if you enjoy a garlicky pate, as I do), but in a book that elsewhere is very careful about measurements, it strikes me as an odd slip-up.

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I agree about the size of the terrine you use. I figured out that I need 1.5 times as much filling to properly fill my terrine using R&P recipes and my terrine is a classic and typical Le Crueset mold. If I make the filling as is, I end up with a squat looking terrine.

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So over the past year I've been making 'ham' using pink salt, pork loins, and a combination of either honey, herbs, aromatics, or things that may just be laying around. So far this style of ham, unsmoked, cured, then finally braised, has turned into probably my favorite kind of cured meat. It's not too bad for you, since the fat content is pretty low; it's easier than tying your shoes; pork loins go on sale quite often, and the flavor is better than any store bought ham i've had.

However, I have recently had a couple of ideas flavor-wise that have my mind going, but since the time/effort/cost involved I thought I would consult the wise folks here at egullet before making a potential flop.

A tad bit more history below :)

In addition to curing meats at home, I've also in the last three years become an avid bread baker. In the last six months, I've really concentrated on thin crust, small, irregular shaped pies with minimalist toppings. I love margherita pizzas, but my fav is a marg with pepperone/pancetta/soppraseta or some other cured meat.

Since the holidays in the states, I have come into the possession of a whole beef loin for very, very little money. the chauteau and good filets are already cut, wrapped, and secure, but i have at least a pound of beef loin that is still relatively intact (though not pretty, that's why it didn't make a steak), so I had an idea--what about curing this remainder of beef loin with salt, pink salt, chiles, garlic, and vinegar for a slightly turbocharged 'faux pepperone' for pizza?

the question I have for the members of this thread are pretty simple: do you think the resulting cured beef will taste nasty? I've also been thinking about dry curing, jerking and dehydrating, and all sorts of convoluted steps. But none of that really matters except will curing with pink salt+salt, chiles, and some strong acid taste good?

Hope to hear some opinions :D

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I'm fairly new to this area of cooking, and am looking for some advice about bacon. I just ordered a pig, and gave the farmer specific instructions on how to have it butchered (i.e. don't turn the belly into bacon I would like to do it myself). Well, I went to pick up my pig and the belly was not cured or smoked, but it was sliced. So now I have beautiful, raw, and sliced pork belly. I'm wondering if I should make any adjustments to the recipe to compensate for this.

Right now I'm planning on tying the slices together with butchers twine to make about six inch wide slabs, then proceed normally. Do you guys think this will work? It is my first time making bacon, and I'm not all that confident.

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Thank you! I can not wait to try the lamb! I am glad someone has done this!!! I have had all kinds of smoked lamb and some have been good and some awful ..the smoke on some lamb sausage I have tried contrasted rather than complimented it ...CookingKid what smoke do you use?

my bacon came out fantastic in spite of my letting go of control to my husband!!!  and the ham hocks OMG if you have not made them and are into smoking and brining ...the recipe in the book is great! I pretty much stuck to the brine/smoke time process but changed things a bit to 50/50 brown sugar and salt ...a tiny bit of pink salt ...then smoked over a mix of 2 parts apple/1 part alder/1part hickory  I just had half of one for breakfast as the tester and the salt/sweet/smoke ..wow...it was the best hamhock I have ever eaten!!!

OK it is crazy not to make your own bacon for sure decent locally smoked bacon from the butcher here runs over 7 bucks a lb ...mine was $1.98/lb total!!! my ham hocks were 1/2 the cost at least and 29457 times better !!!! 

I can post pics when I am off work for sure if anyone wants to see my smokey goodness :)

any more tips on the lamb?

I am going to order a pig from Eastern WA right after Christmas it must be the sage brush and tumble weeds but pork, goat and lamb from there tastes out of this world ...so if you have the chance try it!

164 grams Paprika

48 grams Chili powder

63 grams Salt

8 grams Oregano, dried

17 grams Cayenne

12 grams white pepper, ground

8 grams Red pepper flakes

23 grams garlic powder

6 grams sel rose

Here's my tasso rub recipe. It is not necessary to have the sel rose/instacure #1. As for other tips, after the bellies come out of the brine, allow to dry in the walk-in for an hour. Coat liberally with the tasso rub.

The only other recommendation is to use all of the belly meat that you can get off of the lamb, i.e. from the hind leg to the tip of the breast. If you see any large amount of fat, try to minimize it without damaging the integrity of the belly flap.

If you smoke it and store it for later, thicker slices work well for reheating. I've never had this bacon crisp in a pan like commercial bacon, but the flavor is still great. As for smoking, I've used mainly apple as those are the trees around my house. I prefer pecan. Good luck.

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Well, I went to pick up my pig and the belly was not cured or smoked, but it was sliced.  So now I have beautiful, raw, and sliced pork belly.  I'm wondering if I should make any adjustments to the recipe to compensate for this.

Right now I'm planning on tying the slices together with butchers twine to make about six inch wide slabs, then proceed normally.  Do you guys think this will work?  It is my first time making bacon, and I'm not all that confident.

Not sure that would work. What are the dimensions for the slices? If they're reasonably thick (say 2" or so) you could just proceed as usual and pull the meat from the cure a bit earlier. Or, better yet, you could pull a couple early, a couple later, and compare (with a full report here!).

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Fellow charcuterie addicts, I want to brine a ham for three weeks or so. The most suitable sized vessel I have is my biggest stainless steel stockpot, do you folks think it advisable to use this? I usually use plastic containers but I don't have anything big enough for the size of this ham, I'm worried that the brine will react with the steel.

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Not sure that would work. What are the dimensions for the slices? If they're reasonably thick (say 2" or so) you could just proceed as usual and pull the meat from the cure a bit earlier. Or, better yet, you could pull a couple early, a couple later, and compare (with a full report here!).

I'll try that out. The slices are about 1 to 1.5 inches, I'll post some pictures tonight. I like the idea of pulling some out every so often and testing them out, so I'll do that for sure.

On an unrelated note, can you freeze hog casings? I couldn't find a butcher (tried 7) that would sell 20 feet, so I ended up buying a case and I'm sure that there are hundreds of feet of casings. I'm only worried about thawing and refreezing every time I make sausage until the case is empty. Has anyone tried freezing these guys, or is keeping them in the salt solution in the fridge my best bet?

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Lots of salt in the fridge and they'll keep indefinitely. Freezer breaks them down.

Thanks, thats what I will do

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Tuscan Salami (pp. 183--185, 1st ed.)

This was my first attempt at doing a dry-cured salami: I have made many fresh sausages, and recently made a successful batch of guanciale, so it was time.

There was a lot of mise en place required for this recipe: it has quite a few ingredients, many of which look the same at a quick glance, so I resorted to using index cards to label all the little bowls. I decided to use hog middles to get a nice girth for the salami, so I ordered these from Butcher & Packer. They are bit easier to deal with, and a heck of a lot faster to stuff, than using standard hog casings. They also give a more traditional size to the salami than using the thinner casings that the authors list as alternatives.

gallery_56799_5407_14990.jpggallery_56799_5407_18618.jpg

In the morning I sliced up the shoulder into long strips and put it in the freezer for a few hours to firm up. My new grinder works pretty quickly, and since I keep the metal grinder head in the freezer, only heats the meat up minimally.

gallery_56799_5407_17174.jpggallery_56799_5407_40482.jpg

gallery_56799_5407_21338.jpggallery_56799_5407_36663.jpg

Next I carefully weighed the correct amount of shoulder so I could be certain my ratio is right on (with fresh sausages I don't usually bother, but this being my first dry-cured attempt I wanted to be extra careful). I hand-chopped the back fat, rather than using the grinder... not exactly a neat brunoise, but good enough, I hope.

gallery_56799_5407_18708.jpggallery_56799_5407_35874.jpg

Next up, mixing in all the ingredients and doing the primary bind:

gallery_56799_5407_14214.jpggallery_56799_5407_23515.jpg

Now, onto the stuffing. This went incredibly quickly with these giant casings. After they were stuffed I put them in the oven with the light on overnight to give the bactoferm time to multiply. According to my thermometer this was at 90 degrees F, so perhaps a little too long at too warm a temp, but there don't seem to be any detrimental effects (if I'm in the hospital next week you'll know why...).

gallery_56799_5407_23841.jpggallery_56799_5407_5347.jpg

Next up, the before-and-after shots of the curing process. It took five weeks to cure fully to my taste: I checked after four, and when they were not quite done I left for the holidays. When I returned they were perfect.

gallery_56799_5407_30520.jpggallery_56799_5407_7699.jpg

I did the curing in a wine fridge that I bought specifically for this purpose. To control the humidity I put in a pan of salt and water. The white stuff you see at the bottom of the photo is salt that recrystallized along the bottom of the chamber. Over the month quite a bit of the salt migrated right out the door! Still, the humidity level was always between 65% and 75% which seems to have been good enough. There was no mold of any kind, good or bad, on the sausages: this may be due to the very high level of air circulation (the fridge is thermoelectric but it still has a fan that runs the bulk of the time, circulating the air in the chamber). There were a few spots of the smooth white mold in the spots where the string touched the sausages, but that was it.

gallery_56799_5407_14714.jpggallery_56799_5407_8039.jpg

Finally, the finished sausage:

gallery_56799_5407_9309.jpg

This is one of the best-tasting salami I have ever had, though of course it's hard to tell just how biased I am here. It has a perfect level of acidity, with a nice bite from the fennel and a strong background note from the black pepper and garlic. It's hard to separate out the flavors from the wine I used, but regardless, it tastes great.

A few lessons I learned along the way:

  • I worked extremely clean this time, disinfecting to a paranoid degree. That is probably unnecessary, but it worked. I will tone it down next time, but this gives me some confidence that dry-curing sausage is a realistic thing for me to keep playing with.
  • I got lucky with the length of the salami: they just barely fit in the fridge. Next time I will make twice as many, and make them shorter. I had to cut them in half to fit them into the FoodSaver bags.
  • A wine fridge makes an excellent curing chamber: I was able to constantly check on the salami without disturbing them by uncovering the glass door and looking in. The circulation may be higher than desirable, however: case hardening could be a problem with thicker salami.

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Looks nice Chris. I've found i prefer the flavor of salame i made using a cooler fermentation (72 F), and a longer time (48 hours). The difference is quite noticeable.

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Looks nice Chris. I've found i prefer the flavor of salame i made using a cooler fermentation (72 F), and a longer time (48 hours). The difference is quite noticeable.

Could you describe it? I will definitely give that a try next time: 72 degrees is an easy number to get to!

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Looks nice Chris. I've found i prefer the flavor of salame i made using a cooler fermentation (72 F), and a longer time (48 hours). The difference is quite noticeable.

Could you describe it? I will definitely give that a try next time: 72 degrees is an easy number to get to!

The flavor is more "relaxed" as far as the acidity goes. When i fermented at higher temps i always seem to get some flavors in there that i didn't care for. Hard to describe...sometimes they reminded me of plasticky/oxidized flavors

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Chris what brand of wine cooler did you get, I'm thinking about treating myself to one of these for Christmas, and If you recommend that model, I would love your input.

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Chris, that is some gorgeous salami! You know, I'm always amazed when I see home cooks, or charcutiers, turning out such professional-looking products. It probably shouldn't amaze me the way it does, but there you go.

Oh, and I'd also be curious to know about what sort of wine fridge to get for making charcuterie. Maybe it deserves its own thread, if there isn't one already.

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Looks great, indeed!

[*] I worked extremely clean this time, disinfecting to a paranoid degree. That is probably unnecessary, but it worked. I will tone it down next time, but this gives me some confidence that dry-curing sausage is a realistic thing for me to keep playing with.

Yeah, I think that disinfecting is easy to be anal about, and I made some outstanding peperoni in plastic box in a corner of my moldy basement where my coonhound regularly peed. I'm just sayin'.

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Dude, your preparation and attention to detail seems impeccable. Hat's off to you.

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Thanks for the kudos: believe me, no one was more surprised than I when this stuff came out of the box and not only tasted like real salume, but looked like it. Its such a complex sequence of operations, I could hardly believe it worked. The transformation of raw pork into these dry-cured sausages is an astonishing bit of magic.

As for the fridge, I will point you all to the "Cellars and Chambers for Curing and Aging" topic (and don't forget that we've put together a Charcuterie index with a number of other helpful links :wink:).

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