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


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so, my bacon has to be in there for an other day or so, but I'm curious. It's supposed to harden but to me it seems pretty much the same it was a week ago. Will that just change on the last day or so? I'm not overly concerned as it will still be cooked (unless it smells bad...) but just from reading the recipe I'd have expected a bit more hardening. What would I be looking for? Something like cheddar, brie, toast, ripe avocado? Or something as hard as a slab of bacon is in the store? Mine is sure far from that.

"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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a little hog update: The belly has now given up some liquid and when I "overhauled" it this morning all looks well

The ham is in the brine. It is in a cooler in my garage. Temps are real good, but it is due to warm up here over the weekend. I have lots of ice and ice packs so I think I'll be ok. Ambient temps are supposed to push 50 on Sunday and than come back down. I'll keep a close watch on the brine temp over the next few days.

I did inject a little brine in to the deepest parts of the ham. Not alot as I have no idea what is a lot or a little. I guess we will see. I've never had anything this big on the WSM, but that's a concern for next weekend, not this one

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so, my bacon has to be in there for an other day or so, but I'm curious. It's supposed to harden but to me it seems pretty much the same it was a week ago. Will that just change on the last day or so? I'm not overly concerned as it will still be cooked (unless it smells bad...) but just from reading the recipe I'd have expected a bit more hardening. What would I be looking for? Something like cheddar, brie, toast, ripe avocado? Or something as hard as a slab of bacon is in the store? Mine is sure far from that.

In the Charcuterie Index we've got an entry for this one: "My belly is soft, what do I do?" :

It should feel firm when you press on it, but it's not going to be completely stiff.

and

It is firmer than I thought -- the ziplock adds a flop quotient, making the belly seem less firm than it really is. I'd call it, after the old rule for knowing when a steak is done, slightly less than thumb-pad firm.

You may also want to peruse the Making Bacon topic: there is a ton of great info in there as well.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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I'm having a hard time locating pork jowls and backfat in NYC.

Esposito's didn't have jowls, but they say they have small pieces of frozen backfat.

Today I went to the Arthur Ave. market and they didn't have any. The pork store next to the market - where they make Guanciale - gets boxes of pork jowls but is not selling.

I guess I can order online and pay $30 shipping, but this is supposed to be an inexpensive product...

Any suggestions?

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Took my belly out of the cure and gave it a little smoke today. It is VERY salty. In the book, they say if this happens to blanch it before cooking. I guess I'll have to do so because it is really not going to be edible as it is.

I did what it said to do, but this just did not turn out for me. Really sort of disappointed

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Damn. I wonder what happened. Any thoughts?

It seems the only two variables are amount of cure and time in the cure. I would suspect amount of cure. I laid it out and pressed it in on both sides. I would guess it was more than the 1/4 cup he says to use. He says that one could put the belly in the bag and put 1/4 cup of the cure in the bag and just urge it around. I spread the belly on a sheet tray and rubbed the cure in on both sides. I'm sure it was more than 1/4 cup.

I guess this was the issue as it was in the fridge in the bag for six nights.

The question to all the other bacon makers is how much cure do you use?

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Did you use Morton's or Diamond Crystal, and did you measure or weigh the ingredients? There's a note somewhere near the front of the book that says there's a noticeable difference in volume between the two. I believe Ruhlman says the book's recipes are tested with Morton's, so if you happened to use DC, that may be your problem.

ETA: Oh, and to answer your question, I'm not particularly precise. I just put together the specified ratio and make sure the whole slab is well covered.

Edited by MikeHartnett (log)
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Damn. I wonder what happened. Any thoughts?

He says that one could put the belly in the bag and put 1/4 cup of the cure in the bag and just urge it around. I spread the belly on a sheet tray and rubbed the cure in on both sides. I'm sure it was more than 1/4 cup.

I guess this was the issue as it was in the fridge in the bag for six nights.

The question to all the other bacon makers is how much cure do you use?

I just dredge the bellies in the cure to get even coverage then vacuseal em, never had an issue with the bacon getting too salty even after leaving them in the cure for 2 weeks (life happens sometimes).

Jon

--formerly known as 6ppc--

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The way I eliminate these surprises is to weigh the meat, then decide how salty I want it ,and only rub on that amount of cure.Then let it cure long enough to all be absorbed. So if I have an "X" gram chunk, I rub it with 3.5% of its weight in cure.

never fails...

Bud

Edited by qrn (log)
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Not sure what happened there, mine turned out wonderful, not that I'm an expert, my first ever attempt. I used the quantity from the book scaled down for my 2+ piece of pork belly. I don't have the book handy, but I just reduced the amount a bit. It has salt taste, but is not anything I'd call salty, was in there for 7 days, then I roasted it as I don't have a smoker yet. Definitely edible the way it is, tasted fantastic straight out of the oven. I used a part of it in a pasta dish that was wonderful.

I might note that I'm German and usually tend to salt a bit more than the "typical American" probably would, but not ever so things taste salty to me. Though I'd guess personal perception might play a role there.

I'm dragging my feet on ordering a smoker, but once I have one bacon will be the first to enter :-)

"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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I attempted my very first sausages today.

a friend and i decided to pick up this hobby. so, we split up the start up costs and the results!

this is the soppressata (not in the traditional casings).

gallery_46476_5533_34864.jpg

the kitchenaid wasn't big enough to mix everything together, so we had to do it by hand. halfway through the stuffing, we felt that the sausage was getting a little less cold, so we put it back in the freezer. while we were waiting, we dined on some delicious duck prosciutto she made with brie, baguette, and arugula. then back to the sausage. no huge issues. she had some problems trying to get the sausage to stay uniform, but she got a hang of it.

we used the kitchenaid grinder/sausage stuffer. as some of you must know, the plunger for it sucks. so, i went around manhattan looking for a 1 1/2" wooden dowel with no success. i ended up using 1 1/4" dowel just for today. i still had the same problem with the sausage coming up the sides of the dowel..getting over worked, and warmer than i had liked. so, for next time, i will scour the city for the correct size.

now, i need to hang it. i'm worried that something's going to go wrong while it dries. any hints?

and we made boudin blanc

gallery_46476_5533_30654.jpg

we were deathly afraid of breaking the emulsion that we kept our meat too cold. we also added the liquid ingredients too fast. so at first all we had was ground pork and chicken pieces in a custard. we strained the liquid out and worked the meat to more of a batter, then added the liquid back in. success. we're both in pastry, so we used pastry bags to pipe the sausage into the casings. we immediately poached them. unfortunately, i forgot my thermometer. we know we ended up overcooking some and undercooking the rest. oh well. the results are extremely delicious, though. a little spicier than i was expecting. i may freeze a few of them.

gallery_46476_5533_62120.jpg

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Damn. I wonder what happened. Any thoughts?

It seems the only two variables are amount of cure and time in the cure. I would suspect amount of cure. I laid it out and pressed it in on both sides. I would guess it was more than the 1/4 cup he says to use. He says that one could put the belly in the bag and put 1/4 cup of the cure in the bag and just urge it around. I spread the belly on a sheet tray and rubbed the cure in on both sides. I'm sure it was more than 1/4 cup.

I guess this was the issue as it was in the fridge in the bag for six nights.

The question to all the other bacon makers is how much cure do you use?

The problem may be that you pressed it in. I dredge it without pressing it in (that is, whatever is going to stick sticks; what doesn't stays behind) then put it in the bag. This seems to work without it getting too salty.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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... It seems the only two variables are amount of cure and time in the cure. I would suspect amount of cure. I laid it out and pressed it in on both sides.  I would guess it was more than the 1/4 cup he says to use. 

...

The question to all the other bacon makers is how much cure do you use?

"1/4 cup" of cure or salt? :huh:

Because different preparations of salt have different crystal sizes, they pack into a measuring cup with different amounts of airspace. Which means that there's differing amounts of salt in that cup.

This is the reason that the salt branding is specified.

And its an important reminder that R&P's Charcuterie should not be approached as a mere recipe collection. Its more of a stepwise tutorial, where techniques are built upon what has gone before, and the 'editorial matter' in the chapters is, if anything, more important than the recipes.

It is very much more accurate to measure by weight than volume.

(Goes for just about anything in the kitchen.)

Weight measurement makes the brand and crystal size of the salt pretty much irrelevant. (OK, large crystals dissolve more slowly, and that could make for subtle differences - but its not something to lose sleep over.)

Check eBay for a "pocket scale". Very cheap. Very accurate. Way better than 'cups'. (Just keep it dry - I've had to replace mine because of corrosion - duh!)

And Charcuterie is no place for guesswork.

Accurate measurement is essential. Particularly when beginning.

Two more points.

-- For my own bacon, like qrn above, I prefer to put my final quantities into the bag - rather than putting in excess, timing it for some specific uptake, and then washing away the surplus. I just put my chosen quantities in the bag and give it plenty long enough to equilibrate. Timing becomes non-critical.

Note that English bacon is not pre-cooked, as with the american hot-smoking. Ours is either unsmoked (ie raw) or cold smoked. Hence, after mine comes out of the bag, I like to give it at least a day or two of hanging in the fridge to dry and this also gives more time for the cure to mature.

-- To de-salt excessively salty bacon, you can soak it in cold water, changing the water every 8 hours or so until its no longer excessive. No need to heat/cook it if you have a little patience!

You may want to hang it to lose some of the water that will be picked up either way.

However, if you've put in an excessive quantity of Nitrite (or Nitrate), then the safest advice is to bin it and start again.

Edited by dougal (log)

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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Taking their advice I did blanch some of the salty bacon a little and than cooked it up. It was very good if still a little salty.

The ham is out of the brine and resting in the fridge. It will be smoked tomorrow and I am looking forward to see how this did. If is goes as well as Chris H.'s did I will be very happy.

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Taking their advice I did blanch some of the salty bacon a little and than cooked it up. It was very good if still a little salty.

The ham is out of the brine and resting in the fridge. It will be smoked tomorrow and I am looking forward to see how this did. If is goes as well as Chris H.'s did I will be very happy.

I am thinking that you might have forgotten to add sugar to your cure.

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I am interested in trying out this sort of work, but with some unique restrictions. LOML and I keep kosher and don't eat red meats. Is there a fair amount of recipes for turkey, chicken, and fish based (Ive had salmon pepperoni... delicious!) cured meats for me to explore?

Thanks,

Dan

PS, does anyone have a source for kosher certified casings?

"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

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I am interested in trying out this sort of work, but with some unique restrictions. LOML and I keep kosher and don't eat red meats. Is there a fair amount of recipes for turkey, chicken, and fish based (Ive had salmon pepperoni... delicious!) cured meats for me to explore?

Thanks,

Dan

PS, does anyone have a source for kosher certified casings?

Dan,

Bruce Aidells has a book entitled Flying Sausages which is devoted to chicken and turkey-based sausages. It provides a good basis for non-pork sausages.

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