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


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Thanks David - I think I've got the cooler staying in the right range of both. But I am still looking for input on air circulation and contamination risk - Is opening it every day to change the ice too much air circulation, or too little?

Has anyone had problems with mold in chambers that got opened often?

Big blocks of ice frozen in disposable 2qt containers kept in a small cooler in the big one keep it in the low 60s for a day and a half at a time so far. Humidity is easy with a tub of salt and water - mostly salt.

Thanks for the link to McGee's column! I miss some of them as they come out irregularly. I had just been reading in his book about enzymes in country ham, and I've bookmarked the Newsom's site for the fall, when they'll have more aged hams from this past winter.

I would worry about actually starting the hanging while it is warm, or soon to fluctuate. All the traditionally made country hams, whether from Germany, Spain, Italy, or the U.S. were made with pigs slaughtered in cold weather. And it stayed cold a while, right? Once a good chunk of the water is gone, I am happy to let the enzymes do their stuff breaking down proteins in varying temps, but until then the risk of growth of microbes would worry me...

Cheers,

Peter

While it's good to get the temperature down to the 60s, it's not necessarily fatal if you can't do it.  I've made pancetta, saucisson sec, and bresaola in a coolish cabinet, but I kept a thermometer/hygrometer in there, and temperatures often were in the 70s.  When humidity was particularly low, I would spray the meat with water once every day or two, particularly during the first week of drying, so the outside wouldn't form an impermeable skin that could cause the inside from drying properly.  So far, this has worked for me.  Here are some photos--

gallery_64820_6661_23044.jpg

gallery_64820_6661_307968.jpg

I was encouraged to read Harold McGee's recent article in the _New York Times_ about small scale dry-cured ham producers in the South who have tradtionally hung meat at ambient temperatures, sometimes going into the 90s.  After all, they did this sort of thing before there was air conditioning--

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/03/dining/03curi.html

I've been thinking of making dry curing a seasonal spring/autumn project, when ambient temperature and humidity are best in New York, but these country hams hang for a year or more, so the temperature variations contribute to the flavor of the product.

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Thanks David - I think I've got the cooler staying in the right range of both. But I am still looking for input on air circulation and contamination risk - Is opening it every day to change the ice too much air circulation, or too little?

Has anyone had problems with mold in chambers that got opened often?

--snip--

I would worry about actually starting the hanging while it is warm, or soon to fluctuate. All the traditionally made country hams, whether from Germany, Spain, Italy, or the U.S. were made with pigs slaughtered in cold weather. And it stayed cold a while, right? Once a good chunk of the water is gone, I am happy to let the enzymes do their stuff breaking down proteins in varying temps, but until then the risk of growth of microbes would worry me...

Cheers,

Peter

Good point about starting the hams in the cold weather. That's probably true.

My drying space isn't particularly well sealed--it's just an ordinary kitchen cabinet that contains other things, so it gets opened at least once a day. I haven't had mold problems, but I suppose that may just depend on what kinds of mold may be in the general environment. An advantage of your cooler setup is that it's easy to clean, so that could help on the mold front.

I'd think you would want a little more air circulation than you would get in a cooler that's opened once a day. I'd probably vent it a bit, maybe by leaving the cover loose.

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So, I decided to try Ruhlman's recipe for maple smoked bacon.

I got the pork belly ready and cured it for the full 7 days in the fridge. Then I removed it from the ziploc and left it in the fridge for 24 hours.

Unfortunately, I was unable to smoke it. So, I froze it. This was around two weeks ago.

Two days ago I took it out of the freezer and have let it defrost in the refrigerator.

Weather and time permitting...I want to smoke it tonight on my WSM.

I am looking for opinions if the belly is still good.

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I don't see why not. The cure preserves the meat.

You could have probably just left it refrigerated in the cure. I've kept a cured corned beef in the refrigerator for three months or so. Over a period of about four weeks, the meat becomes progressively saltier and requires more desalting before cooking, so after one week in the cure, you might just rinse the salt off the surface, but after three weeks, you might soak it overnight. It seems to stabilize after about four weeks. I suspect that a pork belly for bacon would behave in a similar way.

Edited by David A. Goldfarb (log)
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So, I decided to try Ruhlman's recipe for maple smoked bacon.

I got the pork belly ready and cured it for the full 7 days in the fridge.  Then I removed it from the ziploc and left it in the fridge for 24 hours.

Unfortunately, I was unable to smoke it.  So, I froze it.  This was around two weeks ago.

Two days ago I took it out of the freezer and have let it defrost in the refrigerator.

Weather and time permitting...I want to smoke it tonight on my WSM.

I am looking for opinions if the belly is still good.

I think the belly is fine. What I would do, though, is rinse the belly, pat it dry and put it in the fridge for 24 hours to let the pellicule re-form. You need the pellicule for smoking.

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It really doesn't matter, but it's easiest to remove while the belly is still a bit warm from cooking.

Dave, I agree. Also, I have made the maple cured bacon from the book (I started curing three more today) and it is excellent! Let us know how you like it.

Elsie

Edited by ElsieD (log)
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  • 4 weeks later...

Has anyone made the short rib pastrami on Ruhlman's website? I have it brining now for cooking tomorrow (he basically uses the corned beef brine from Charcuterie) but he did his on the grill, then finished it in the oven, whereas I want to at least start mine on the smoker. If anyone's tried the recipe I'd love to hear about it.

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  • 1 month later...

I recently noticed a good trick for making dry cured sausages where you might want to peel the skin before eating. My local Italian deli, Iavarone's in Maspeth, Queens, runs a string inside the casing of their sopressata along the edge, so that when you make the first slice, you can find the string and zip open the casing as the salami is sliced. I guess the way to do this would be to put one end of a spool of butcher's twine through the casing as the casing is fed onto the horn, and then you could pull the string through the casing as it is stuffed.

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Sopresatta (pp. 186–188)

A few weeks ago I made the Sopresatta from Charcuterie and it turned out very well: it's not as heavily seasoned as the Tuscan Salami from the book, so has a more pronounced pork flavor. Using good-quality pork is a must for this recipe, I think. I used the rest of the scrap from last year's pig:

DSC_3717.jpg

Ground it all through the coarse plate:

DSC_3721.jpg

Added the seasonings (quite heavy on the garlic):

DSC_3727.jpg

Stuffed using the usual apparatus:

DSC_3732.jpg

Incubated in the oven with the light on overnight:

DSC_3738.jpg

At this point they weighed 1699 grams, making the target weight 1189 grams, which I hit 16 days later (curing in the mini wine fridge):

DSC_3798.jpg

The fat maintained pretty good definition:

DSC_3800.jpg

Overall the sausage is quite good, though not as good as some of the sopresattas I've had from professional charcuteriers. I should note that the humidity was quite low (65% relative) so I got no mold formation, and the outer edges of the sausage was slightly drier than the interior. Two more weeks vacuum-sealed in the refrigerator evened out the internal moisture and mellowed the flavors a bit.

DSC_3802.jpg

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Wow, those are gorgeous, Chris! Fax me a link. It's lunch time.

Batali, father, not son, makes a really hot sopresatta I could eat by the pound.

Where would I buy one of those manual sausage stuffer thingies you have?

Edited by fooey (log)

Fooey's Flickr Food Fotography

Brünnhilde, so help me, if you don't get out of the oven and empty the dishwasher, you won't be allowed anywhere near the table when we're flambeéing the Cherries Jubilee.

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Only 2 pages. That's a relief. I usually give up on the ones that have 500 replies over 5 years.

Looks like there's an attachement for my mixer, but it cost almost as much (more?) than a dedicated machine at ~400 USD.

Edited by fooey (log)

Fooey's Flickr Food Fotography

Brünnhilde, so help me, if you don't get out of the oven and empty the dishwasher, you won't be allowed anywhere near the table when we're flambeéing the Cherries Jubilee.

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  • 4 weeks later...

A batch of soppressata today marked my first experience with Bactoferm Mold 600 (previously M-EK-4). What's the recommended protocol for use of this product?

I confess right off the bat that I haven't had time yet to read through both Charcuterie topics for pertinent postings. Since instructions on the packaging or on Butcher Packer's site were elusive, I turned to jmolinari's blog. Based on his experience, I went with 1.5 g dissolved in 30 ml distilled water for a few hours, then diluted with an additional 200 ml water prior to use and applied with an atomizer. For a 5 lb batch of sausage, this final volume was rather excessive; I probably used less than a quarter of the total volume. I'll know in a day or so how the mold goes. Is anyone aware of trials with a) initial starting amounts of culture or b) dilution rates with regards to efficacy?

 

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As part of my 1/7th of a Berkshire pork I received a huge part of pork belly, scaling in at almost 8lb. I cut it in half today and cured one half with the savory mix from Charcuterie, though I added more garlic, pepper, and one more (fresh from my tree) bay leaf. The other half I made with a sweet cure from Butcher/Packer and added a bit more maple syrup. Once cured I'll smoke them both with Almond wood I got from the ranch. I'll have more detail and pictures on my blog once it's done, but I'll post the main images here too in a week or so.

There's one ingredient to Charcuterie that's hard to come by I noticed. Patience! The kitchen smelled so good after crushing the pepper and garlic, I was tempted to just bite right into it :-)

And I think I'll put that mini fridge on my x-mas list Chris, what you're pulling out of that wine cooler looks simply amazing!

"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 fan might cause the surface to dry out too quickly, effectively sealing in moisture in the center of the meat and causing it to rot. Unless you have particularly high humidity, I don't think it would be a good idea, but maybe with something small like duck breast, it wouldn't be a big problem.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've been looking to try my hand at some of the pork terrines in the book, and now that the weather has turned cool it seems an ideal time. I have, however, hit my first snag before even getting started. Where oh where do people find their pork livers? I've been to two Whole Foods analogues and two ethnic joints - not a one stocks or will order it. I'll try a wholesaler tomorrow and a few vendors at the farmer's market on Saturday. Any suggestions before I turn to chicken liver?

 

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Well I hope I am posting in the right place. I have a 4.5 cubic ft danby fridge for my curing chamber. I will use a Johnson control part number

A19AAT. It will plug into the wall and the fridge plugs into it and you stick the capillary tube in the fridge and you can adjust from 20 to 80 degrees. I will use a wall wort also plugged into the control to run the fan. What kind of computer fan should I get and how should I mount it. Also, I am blind and when I do my first cure I will want to have some one who I can email directly for guidance. I will have sighted help on hand to tell me if they see mold and the color of things. thanks

Steve the Blind meat Cutter

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wow, my bacon turned out really nice on the Big Green Egg! I'll post pix soon, have to run them through the computer mill and a longer version with more pix will be on my blog - hopefully tomorrow.

Smoked for about 2 hrs with Almond wood grown on the same grounds as the pork. I was tempted to eat the paper towel I used for draining it :laugh:

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

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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