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Charcuterie Questions


RedNeckFoodie
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So this will be the first time I take on a project of this type. As a kid I did some butchering of hogs and beef, and I have plenty of experience processing and handling wild game. I've never dry cured anything, however, and would appreciate any help any more experienced folks might be able to give.

I'm planning to use a slightly modified version of the pepperoni recipe at the following link.

http://homecooking.about.com/od/porkrecipes/r/blpork85.htm

I live in Missouri and right now it's nice and cold outside. I have a concrete basement and a dirt-floor crawl space. The basement is used for storage and laundry. The crawl space isn't used for anything, is about 4 feet tall, and about 100 square feet.

I have a dehumidifier in the basement which I can regulate the humidity with. It stays at about 50% right now. Without the dehumidifier it hangs around 75%. The temp in the basement is in the high 40s/low 50s now. I expect it to get into the high 50s/low 60s by mid April, but no higher.

My main question is whether either the basement or the crawl space would be a suitable location to hang these pepperonis for 2 months, and what, if anything, I might want to do to make sure this first attempt goes well.

Any help or tips would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance for any advice.

Neil

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Thanks, Chris. Much appreciated. It's just good to know that I'm not way off base.

With regard to ascorbic acid. Anyone use it in their recipes? The only form I'm able to find locally is powdered. The packaging directs you to mix it one tablespoon to one quart of water. I have no idea what kind of strength that provides, or what strength is necessary for that matter. The link referenced above doesn't specify.

Any advice is appreciated.

Neil

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Wow, to be honest I had not even clicked through that recipe before: I see that it actually calls for saltpeter?! If I was you I would definitely NOT use that recipe. I enjoyed the recipe in Ruhlman and Polcyn's Charcuterie, which your public library probably has (though it's not at all like the Hormel product that goes by the name "pepperoni").

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Alternately, if you are making pepperoni as a pizza topping, I'd suggest you actually make Soppressata instead: while Rulhman and Polcyn's recipe for pepperone gives a great tasting sausage, its very very low fat content does not give the expected results on a pizza. It's good, but it might not be what you are after.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Since you're bringing the fat content up. Let me run this by you. I'm making this sausage for my son to try out. He's allergic to a long list of things, and has reacted in the past to pork. So this is going to be an all beef sausage.

In the past I've used venison with beef fat added to approximate pork. It works very well for breakfast sausage. I have no clue how it might work with this, however.

I looked for Ruhlman and Polcyn's Charcuterie at my local library, but had to request it on inter-library loan which could take weeks and put me into summer.

I've heard such good things about it, I may try to see if any of my local book sellers are carrying it.

Back to the fat content; the Ruhlman and Polcyn's recipe as a pizza topping? The fat content is low and the slices dry out as a topping?

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Ruhlman and Polcyn's recipe is all beef, with no added fat at all, so is extremely lean. It works fine if you are making a thin-crust pizza that is cooked quickly, but longer cooking tends to end up with something more like beef jerky on the top. This could be solved, I suppose, by drying it less in the first place, but I have not tried that myself.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Ruhlman and Polcyn's recipe is all beef, with no added fat at all, so is extremely lean. It works fine if you are making a thin-crust pizza that is cooked quickly, but longer cooking tends to end up with something more like beef jerky on the top. This could be solved, I suppose, by drying it less in the first place, but I have not tried that myself.

I've made the R&P peperone with a rather fatty piece of chuck, untrimmed. The fat content was roughly equivalent to that of a more traditional soppressata. I think holds up pretty good as a pizza topping, but then again, I cook my pizzas in a 700F oven for only a few minutes. A 20 minute trip in a 500F oven, and we might be talking jerky.

 

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So my copy of R&Ps Charcuterie arrived in the mail today and I immediately flipped to the dry curing section and started reading. I got to the pepperoni recipe and saw that it calls for dry milk powder. I can't include dairy in the recipe. Any suggestions on how to work around this? I understand its purpose is to act as a binder.

When looking for an answer I found this site. Posting the link here in case anyone else finds it helpful.

http://lpoli.50webs.com/Tips.htm

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You can definitely make a successful dried sausage without milk powder. I'm not sure if there are any appropriate substitutions, but I don't think you'll be courting disaster by omitting it entirely.

Glad you found Len Poli's site. It's a great resource and I encourage you to delve deep there.

 

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Howdy from a new member, RNF. I got my start in charcuterie about 3 years ago and have been hooked ever since. As explained on Len Poli's site, dry milk powder helps minimize shrinking and aids moisture retention but I think that's mostly in cooked sausages. If you do want to make a substitution, you could try soy protein concentrate...unless that's also an allergy concern...at the low end of the range suggested on Len's site. I've had good results with it but admit I've never used it in a dry-cured product.

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That's a good suggestion (and welcome, PetersCreek!): I'm not sure that rice milk powder will add what you need, so there may be no benefit to using it. I think it's the protein in the milk powder (and of course the soy protein powder) that is doing the job there. Does rice milk powder have much protein in it? I admit I know next to nothing about it.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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just as a side note, if you plan to use it for pizza topping and are concerned it's too lean, just slice it really thin and add it to the pizza AFTER the pizza is coming right out of the hot oven or off the grill. Quite some "gourmet" pizza places around here seem to do that. Sprinkle a bit of arugula on top too, a bit of good quality olive oil, yumm!

And I never thought about the crawl space for hanging stuff! I'm in NorCal, it's too wet down there right now I'm sure, but I think I'll put a temp/hygro meter down there this spring and see what temps I have down there, sure would be neat to use that empty space!

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

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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  • 1 month later...

Help!!

Ok, so I have my meat prepared. All ready to go. I bought a 3/4" LEM stuffing tube and a LEM collagen casing that specifically says "Use 3/4" stuffing tube". It also says do not soak in water. The casing won't fit on the tube.

What am I doing wrong here? Any quick response would be greatly appreciated. I don't want this meat to go to waste. Thanks.

Neil

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Apparently collagen casings shouldn't be stored at room temp. for long? At least according to one site I read yesterday. Interesting then that Bass Pro sells them on the shelf. Who knows how long they'd been drying out.

Next question for those who have more experience than I. I'm using 3/4" collagen casings with the R&P recipe. I understand the 30% weight reduction, but how long should I expect that to take in this case? The recipe gives times in days for pork and sheep casings, not collagen.

Again, thanks for all the help.

Neil

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Next question for those who have more experience than I. I'm using 3/4" collagen casings with the R&P recipe. I understand the 30% weight reduction, but how long should I expect that to take in this case? The recipe gives times in days for pork and sheep casings, not collagen

I've never dry cured using shirred collagen casings (just non-edible flats) but going by the texture alone, I'm guessing it will be similar to sheep casing, perhaps a bit longer. Of course, it's really going to depend on the conditions in your crawl space.

Are you going to culture mold or fight it?

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You'll know from tasting it, but I like lean beef dry-cured items to get closer to about 40% weight loss. 4 1/2 days would be extremely short indeed, I think it's rather unlikely you'll get the full-on savory funk of the best salume without a week or so in the fridge assuming you've hit your weight targets already.

I've got some peperone in the fridge I made back in January, it's still doing great. Cubed some up the other day and tossed it with some whole wheat gemelli and leftover ratatouille, made a great simple meal. Pizza topping you've got to be careful though, the leanness can equal toughness.

Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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Thanks Andy, I assumed that there was still some room for drying so I left most of the batch hanging and just grabbed a couple sticks for sampling. I've chewed on a small piece with my front teeth...still sporting some painful holes in the back of my mouth from surgery, and the texture and taste seem good, but I'll keep sampling as I approach a week; which will be tomorrow.

I'm going to make my son his first pepperoni pizza, but as a snack item he's already thoroughly enjoying it. Thanks everyone for your input. Next up...Chorizo.

Neil

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