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


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Has anyone tried the saucisson sec recipe? Abra wasn't too happy with it a while back, and I've been snooping through Grigson to see what tweaks I can make. I have some fresh Coleman shoulder that I think I'll use for 'em....

We've made it without modifying the recipe at all and were quite happy with the result.

The flavors evolved quite a bit over the 6 months it took us to eat the batch.

We started eating it after about 4 weeks of drying. Did not weigh it just started to eat it when it looked and felt "right". The initial impression was almost bland quite subtle. With more age the flavors became more intense and interesting.

Overall we were pretty happy with it.

Jon

--formerly known as 6ppc--

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i'm about to start brining some brisket for pastrami - but a bit confused by the brining liquid formula - it calls for 350g or 1.5 cups of kosher salt.

But when measured on scales 350g of salt is way closer to 2.5 cups. How much salt should i use? I checked brining formulas in couple other books and 350g indeed looks too much. I added all 350g and the liquid is really heavy salted...

Any advice?

Thanks much!

Edited by helenas (log)
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Helenas, I had the same problem of volume and weight not corresponding, in a different recipe. It's good to know that the issue with salt is the brand, but in my case, it was chopped vegetables: onion, garlic, parsley. It could be that I didn't mince them to the proper size, but... no. I know how to mince garlic. So I'm at a bit of a loss.

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I didn't have any pink salt, and couldn't find any in my area.

http://www.butcher-packer.com/index.php?ma...ex&cPath=237_12

I think it is only available through the internet, at least I think I remember that from the book. Check out the sources section at the end.

Actually, I am located in Charleston, SC and have found Morton Cure at a local grocery store (Piggly Wiggly.) It is pre-mixed salt (sodium chloride), sugar, sodium nitrate and sodium nitrate. Have yet to find the unmixed cure locally, but suspect that one could order it from a pharmacist as they carry salt petre which is potassium nitrate and can be used for making rocket fuel, gun powder, amonst other uses. Potassium nitrate is not recommended for preserving foods by FDA. Probably because your food can blow up in your smoker (just kidding.)

Edited by Tom Gengo (log)

Tom Gengo

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I wouldn't recommend using straight sodium nitrate becuase measuring the quantities would be REALLY difficult.

if you use about 25g for 25lbs of meat of cure #2, cure #2 is about 6% nitrate or so, you'd have to measure 1.5g of pure nitrate per 25lbs of meat. Since most of us don't make that much at a time, you can see why measuing nitrate for our batch size (8-10 lbs) would difficult to do accurately.

I say just bite the bullet and order the Cure #2 and #1 from online. It's better to spend $8 in shipping and to know you're going to be safe, and not give anyone nitrate poisoning.

Edited by jmolinari (log)
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I wouldn't recommend using straight sodium nitrate becuase measuring the quantities would be REALLY difficult.

...

I say just bite the bullet and order the Cure #2 and #1 from online. It's better to spend $8 in shipping and to know you're going to be safe, and not give anyone nitrate poisoning.

NitrAte (sodium or potassium) is hard to measure.

Unless you have a super-accurate "pocket scale" - estimated cost $20, try eBay.

Or you can stand some wastage and have enough science background to make up a standard dilute solution that you can measure accurately enough with the tools to hand.

However - NitrAte (on its own) isn't officially liked, not just because of the measurement difficulty, but also because it requires the presence of the 'right' bacteria to achieve the cure.

And residual nitrAte is believed (by the US authorities, but not in Europe), to form potentially hazardous nitrosamines, in food cooked to frying temperature. So nitrAte (as in #2) should be reserved for stuff getting long curing/storage and ideally not to be eaten fried.

NitrIte doesn't seem to give rise to nitrosamines in the same way. And the cure happens reliably regardless of the presence or absence of the specific magic bacteria.

However, because nitrIte is SO potent (you need MUCH less of it than nitrAte), its not sold undiluted to the public.

"Pink Salt" (cure number 1, prague powder number 1) is just nitrIte diluted with salt to the extent that it is more easily measurable - and harder to use to accidental harmful excess. (The crystal size of salt and nitrite in proper cures are actually matched to prevent segregation in transport and storage.)

So, I'm reinforcing jmolinari's good advice with additional reasons.

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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I agree w/ Dougal. NitrAte is to be used only in long cures, where it ungoes reduction to nitrIte, which keeps the food safe longer.

I was also under the impression that the cures are not just nitrI/Ates mixed with salt, as that would lead to possible uneveness in the mixture, but instead the salt and NitrI/Ates are dissolved together in water, and then re-evaporated, basically "joining" the salt and NitrI/Ate molecules, and guaranteeing that they are always evenly distributed per the ratio when used.

Nitrosamines and cancer is still up in the air as well. Not that i fry stuff that i used nitrAtes in...but it seems to be a point of contention as to whether they actually have any harmful effect. I guess better safe than sorry though!

Adding to what Dougal said, to beat the proverbial dead horse, i personally woulnd't trust an Ebay $20 scale to measure ACCURATELY/PRECISELY such small quantities of nitrates. you'd have to get a scale that goes to 1/100 of a gram, and then you introduct all kinds of measurement issues with air turbulence etc.etc.

Just but cure #1 and #2 and use as appropriate:)

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Regarding the crystal sizing, the historic advance with the 'prague powders' was that the salts were co-deposited by rapid evaporation from solution. These days, I believe they are 'flash evaporated' under vacuum. Anyway, the result is a mix of even-sized (rather than "joined") crystals that should not segregate - become stronger/weaker in active ingredient as you go down the packet, like crisps (potato chips) and salt!

Regarding $20 eBay scales. I have a 0.01g precision scale, and a calibration weight. It is sensitive to that last decimal place. While I wouldn't trust the accuracy to the limit of its sensitivity or precision, I am happy that I can weigh out a quantity of 1g to an accuracy of at least ±5%. Whereas using even a decent kitchen scale with a 1g precision, I'd only trust a 1g measurement to ±100% ...

Cheap electronics are surprisingly effective!

I dare say such scales might be mainly used for certain dubious transactions where 'inaccuracy' might lead to immediate violence!

I bought the scale for curing, but most of its use is actually weighing out salt and yeast for bread baking! (And I use it for airmail letters too...)

I think such a scale should be a part of any modern cook's 'batterie de cuisine'; it'll certainly come in handy when I start playing with 'molecular gastronomy' chemicals!

And you can even use it for measuring premixed cures much more accurately than you could using a kitchen scale, or, :hmmm: a measuring spoon ...

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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I have a couple of scales, one a pro scale 222, that was less than $10 and weighs200 g to a tenth of an gram .

And a My Weigh i5000 that weighs to 11 lb.think it was $35

Got em from HERE

I think you could calculate the nitrite/nitrate amounts in a quanity of Tender Quick using their stated %'s on the label to get the amounts you wanted, so you would not have to buy cure 1 or 2 ( obviously #1 has only one, but in a pinch it might work.

Bud

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Just had my first Charcuterie failure, while making Canadian bacon. The problem was that the recommended 48 hours of brining wasn't enough: the finished pork had a bacony, cured exterior, but a roast (well, smoked) pork center. It's very good roast pork-- juicy and tender-- but the contrast in flavor between the inside and outside is a little off-putting.

What I have wouldn't be very good for eating straight (though my wife likes it), but will be fine chopped up and put into pasta sauce. And next time I'll brine the pork loin for at least 60-72 hours.

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Just had my first Charcuterie failure, while making Canadian bacon.  The problem was that the recommended 48 hours of brining wasn't enough: the finished pork had a bacony, cured exterior, but a roast (well, smoked) pork center.  It's very good roast pork-- juicy and tender-- but the contrast in flavor between the inside and outside is a little off-putting. 

What I have wouldn't be very good for eating straight (though my wife likes it), but will be fine chopped up and put into pasta sauce.  And next time I'll brine the pork loin for at least 60-72 hours.

Could this be resolved by cleaning the extra muscle meat from the loin first? I'm thinking that a smaller piece of meat would cure faster.

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Hello all -

I'm new to the forum and have spent many valuable hours poring the archives... thanks to everyone for sharing their experiences, especially the photos!

I've had some smashing successes in my Charcuterie journey: venison sausage, lamb sausage, and pancetta. But my first venture into dry curing doesn't seem exactly right.

I tried the spanish chorizo - followed the recipe quite well, except:

- I'm unsure what temperature I fermented at: I put the sausages under a light, in our 68 degree kitchen. Possibly got too hot? They were there about 12 hours before I hung them in my basement.

- The first few days of the curing process were possibly too cool: low 50s with humidity at about 70%. After that, I was able to regulate the temperature in the upper 50s to 61 degrees or so, with 60-70% humidity.

Anyway, after 20 days, the sausages have lost 30% of their weight, but, they seem too soft. The color is good throughout - deep, rich reddish brown, but, to me, they seem squishier than they should be in the middle. (They are squishier than say, a stick of pepperoni I could buy at the grocery store.) Flavor is pretty good though. No mold or anything grew on them.

For the most part, the casings (hog casings) seem good - but, a couple of them seemed a little dry in places. I threw one sausage out that was softer than the others. Seemed like it's casing was too dry and it was softer and pinker in the middle than the others. (I did prick the casings with a needle when I made the sausages.)

(I'm unsure of the pH right now - I currently have pH paper that measures 5.5 and up, and the sausage does not register on that.... so I know it's under 5.5 but that is probably not very helpful.)

The pork I started with is really good pork - local pastured Tamworth pigs - had been frozen before I made the sausages.

Questions:

Is my sausage bad?

Can I eat the stuff? (If not, what might have I exposed myself to since I already did?)

Can I cook it? I bet it would be good in beans or soups.

What might have gone wrong? I'm guessing somehow the bactoferm didn't grow.

How firm should it be?

How can the sausages have lost 30% of their weight and still not be firm enough?

What role does the bactoferm have in the texture of the result?

Should I just let them dry more?

It's amazing how the whole process seems clear until you try it yourself! I've gained an even deeper respect for those who do this right!

Thanks for any insights,

Shawn the new sausagemaker

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Welcome, Shaun!

I don't think it's a bactoferm issue. My guess is that the humidity was too low, so your casings got dry, and the bulk of the weight loss is in the outer cylinder of meat. You might try hanging them a bit more in a more humid place; I've had a similar problem with saucisson sec and have been spraying them with a fine distilled water mist a couple times a day.

Oh, and definitely eat 'em when you're done. We all seem to have lived through many worse experiences than this. :wink:

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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It MAY be a fermentation issue, but shouldn't be. As Chris said, let them dry longer. If they still don't firm up, then either the fermentation wasn't long enough, or they case hardened.

the case hardening seems veyr unlikely if you were at 70% humidity. The few days in the low 50s aren't a problem. I dry my salami at 52-55 / 65-70%rh.

I haven't made the chorizo from Charcuterie, so i don't know what the final texture/feel should be.

I tihnk as long as you had your salt and curing salt in there, it should be relatively safe to eat, if not pleasant because of the middle squishyness.

I would let them dry a few more weeks, and Chris' suggestion of spraying with distilled water is probably a good one if they've hardened a little bit on the outside edge.

the bactoferm / bacteria has a big impact on the texture as i understand it. The acidification helps hte meat releast its water. Maybe the temperature you had them at during fermentaiton wasn't high enough for the particular bacteria you used. Also if they were under a light, maybe only 1 side of the salame fermented well, and the underside did not.

sorry for my rambling.

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j, chris -

extremely helpful. thanks so much.

i will let them dry longer and try the distilled water spray. the cases don't seem too hard, but then, i don't really know what too hard is.

i think that perhaps the fermentation was not even - next time i'll put them in a covered glass dish in the oven with the light on or something to maintain a low, overall, even temp without losing moisture.

part of my inspiration for trying this dry curing is my recent (honeymoon) trip to italy where we had no end of fine dry cured goods and saw prosciutto hanging in basements... slow food was actually having their big showcase event at the time we were there, and we constantly met americans who were in italy for that. one of them told me of this book.

i've found your blog quite valuable, j.

thanks again...

shawn

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I don't think it's necessary to put the salami in anything during an oven-light fermentation: it is pretty humid in there, and it's only 12 hours. I put my Tuscan Salami in an oven overnight: it was a little damp when I put it in, and when I took it out the next morning the casing had dried a bit, but not enough to matter.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Brian's Holiday Kielbasa (pp. 118–119, 1st ed.)

Over the holidays this year I visited my in-laws, who serve kielbasa and sauerkraut on Christmas: I had forgotten how much I liked Kielbasa, so I decided to give Polcyn's recipe a try when I got home. It is a fresh Kielbasa, unsmoked, and has a very different flavor than the Hilshire Farms ring that I was used to. Not better or worse, just not what I was expecting from a Kielbasa.

I used the second bag of scraps from my pig adventure, so probably had a bit more fat than just a shoulder would. Here it is after mixing and refrigerating overnight:


Grinding it was a bit of work because I left it in the freezer too long: it was almost frozen solid. This kept it very cold during grinding, but I had to go slowly:


Here is the stuffed, uncooked sausage. I was much more careful to not fill the casings completely full this time, but I still broke one link when I twisted them up.


Finally, a cooked sausage braised with sauerkraut:


The texture was very fine because I ended up taking a long time to do the bind: the meat was about 25°F before mixing, and took a long time to come together and get up to 35°F: probably between 5 and 10 minutes of mixing. I don't mind it, but I generally prefer a little more definition. These had almost the consistency of a store-bought hotdog. As I mentioned above, the flavor is not bad, but nothing special either. I think next time I will try the recipe for smoked Kielbasa from the CIA's Garde Manger book.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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That CIA recipe is excellent.

When you were grinding, Chris, did you notice any grease that was released into the meat from the spot where the worm meets the motor? When I've had meat that was more stiff than crunchy, I've had that problem.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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