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ronnie_suburban

Curing and Cooking with Ruhlman & Polcyn's "Charcuterie" (Part 2)

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Great job, melicob! My first batch of lamb sausage came out about the same but I nailed it the next time out. I think that leanness was a factor and I learned, after the first time out, to add plenty of fatback to the mixture. Even with relatively fatty lamb shoulder, I'll add anywhere from 8 - 10 oz of fatback to a 5-pound batch. It makes a substantial difference.

Good luck with the Spanish Chorizo. :smile:

=R=

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Dave, that venison salame looks fantastic!

Thanks everyone for the input on the curing chamber. I found a 3'x2' storage container that I can easily drill holes into. I'm thinking that I can place a hotel pan of salt water and ice in the bottom, spray a little if need be, and hang things from a rack at the top. I'm going to try to get it going this weekend.

Ron, my heart weeps for those jowls. I had a long chat with the head butcher at Whole Foods, and he's going to try to scare me up some pig parts from Niman Ranch, so's I don't have to special order via the 'net. In the meanwhile, I'm thinking of starting with a basic beef peperone....

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Beautiful, melicob! I know that my first sausages were with chicken, and I found that "red" meat was significantly different. Quite the dance stuffing them yourself!

Some question:

My MIL gave me this. It belonged to her MIL. Should I clean it up and use it or should I pitch it?

gallery_6263_35_37557.jpg

I'm going to embark on chicken thigh sausages again this week. I need a consensus. Should I use the skin and every bit of fat or should I that out that huge bag of fat back (that I wasn't smart enough to carve into 1/4 lb. chunks and individually freeze)?

How cold should I aim for when doing the bind? I'm going out to get a new thermometer or two (since my most recent instant read became part of a science fair project).

Finally, I have two belly halves (totalling about 6 lbs. each) in the fridge, each in individual bags. I know somewhere uptopic (and I can't find it in short enough order) I asked about curing two halves and whether the should be cured in one bag or two, and if one bag how. Perhaps Michel will chime in.

Anyway, beautiful stuff. I can't wait until I'm to the dry curing stage!

Oh, final note. We recently had some commercially prepared (as in supermarket, not small meat market) breakfast sausages. Next project is breakfast sausages. We are rapidly becoming spoiled, even with my novice efforts, and I was pleased that the family chose to eat barely a portion of what they would have of the commercial stuff, saying "mom, you can do better!"

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Cleaning it shouldn't be too hard (some Bartenders Friend and elbow grease), but sharpening it might be a pain in the ass.

I dunno about the skin/fat question, but I'd aim for 34-35F for the start of the bind. Basically as cold as you can git.

Your breakfast sausages are going to kill, Susan!

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Ron, those pictures of your jowls are scary. How're they doing now?

I find it even more scary that I didn't even KNOW about glands. I did my guanciale from the Babbo recipe, and unless I'm losing it, no glands were mentioned. Is my guanciale now doomed? Do I have to join Ron in the Jowls of Infamy club? My jowls never looked or leaked green, though.

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How cold should I aim for when doing the bind?

Somewhere below 40F will work. The closer you get it to freezing, the harder it will be to mix, so I'd shoot for 36-38F if you can.

Finally, I have two belly halves (totalling about 6 lbs. each) in the fridge, each in individual bags.  I know somewhere uptopic (and I can't find it in short enough order) I asked about curing two halves and whether the should be cured in one bag or two, and if one bag how.  Perhaps Michel will chime in.

Use two bags. I've found that a 5-6 lb belly is about all that will fit comfortably in a 2 gallon ziplock, and having only one in the bag facilitates keeping the entire belly exposed to the liquid cure during the curing process.

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I grilled the pork rib chop confit I made last week today. I only confited one chop since this was an experiment, but I wished I had done another one! I followed the Charcuterie recipe, letting it confit for 6 hrs, and I made sure to heat up the chop in the oven beforehand so as to not dry it out on the grill. There was about 1/2" of fat on the outside that charred up sublimely :wub: The loin segment the chop was defininitely not dry, but neither was it melt in your mouth delicious as the rest of the chop (I was warned :hmmm: ). The texture was like slightly overcooked prok, but with lots of fat to compensate. I may try another one, confiting at closer to 150 for longer. I'm sure this is true of all confits, but these grill up beautifully. Since they are saturated with fat they char up evenly and quickly.

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Oy, I'm anal. I have the two bellies curing for bacon smoking, each in separate bags, one bag on top of the other. Given that I have a full fridge, should they just be on topof the other things, or should they be slightly weighted with each other or other stuff?

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Oy, I'm anal.  I have the two bellies curing for bacon smoking, each in separate bags, one bag on top of the other.  Given that I have a full fridge, should they just be on topof the other things, or should they be slightly weighted with each other or other stuff?

I don't think it matters. I have had them curing separately, side by side, and on top of each other, depending on the space available at the time. I haven't noticed any differences either way.

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I missed this the first time around:

Then I attempt to use the KitchenAid food grinder and got really frustrated because it kept clogging up. Whatever could be the problem? Let's check all the parts we got? What's this blade thing? Perhaps it will help? Ah! Yes! Something to actually CUT the meat rather than just pushing it through the holes of the die. Brilliant!

So glad to know that there are a few others learning the ropes around here who have such moments (click for mine)!

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Those jowls do look a little 'funky'. I dont know whether the stuff leached is from a gland because the gland should be inactive as the animal is dead. Dont quote me on this however.

However something else unwanted might produce those liquids (ie when meat starts to turn, it becomes slimy as a result of the bacterial build up). Smelling it should give you the answer.

When I did my smallgoods making course, we were told ALWAYS to look for small glands whilst trimming our pork. In the first piece I was given, I cut out 3 of the little suckers. They are about the size of your little fingernail and not quite meat coloured and obviously not white like fat. They were kind of 'pinkish-purple'.

Best of luck with your products. It will be interesting to hear what happens!

Cheers,

Doc-G

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Well, onto the next project. I was wanting to do another salame, but something larger. I sort of (until I tackled it) liked the idea of larger grind, actually diced. Using the sopressata recipe in the book I started with 8 lbs of fatty butt and 2 lbs of fat back.

gallery_16509_1680_571001.jpg

You can probably imagine what a job it was to dice this.

Well, then imagine what it was like to stuff this by hand.

gallery_16509_1680_655344.jpg

This is what 10 lbs of sopressata looks like after inoculating the bactoferm. Into the curing chamber this morning. I'll post back in a few weeks with results.

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Well, the jowls have absolutely no "off" smell whatsoever, which makes this a very strange situation. In fact, they have almost no smell at all.

A reader who frequents this thread sent me the following information, which she found at the University of Virginia's web site. It very well might apply in my situation but given that the jowls were sourced from Niman, I'd hate to think so:

Pale, soft and exudative pork (PSE) - Pork that is very light colored and lacks firmness is less desirable for curing. Pale and soft pork experiences more loss of moisture through weeping. This condition, which is responsible for poor cured color development, yields pale colored pork that sometimes has a gray or green tinge after being cured. The soft appearance gives a lower quality appearance and the exudative condition is responsible for more weight loss during curing and makes the pork more difficult to handle due to the moist condition. A soft muscle structure causes more muscle separation and uneven cure penetration. Greater muscle separation may permit more microbial contamination and insect invasion during storage.

The PSE condition can be corrected by slaughtering swine that are rugged, thrifty and with enough finish to have 0.7 inch or more of backfat thickness over the back . . . The PSE condition can be minimized by proper temperature control from slaughter to curing.

At this point, I plan to stay the course. I'll continue to cure them, then I'll dry them and smoke them over the weekend. If nothing else, it'll be an interesting experiment but I have to say that I'll be somewhat nervous about actually tasting them. And I'm disappointed. I've cured and smoked over 10 slabs of bacon since I started down this crazy road and this is the first time I've had any mysterious problems pop up while doing so. I'll continue to update as I go and please, feel free to share any theories about what might be going on here.

Thanks,

=R=

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Dave, the sopressata looks great. I'm sure it was a ton of taxing work. Hopefully, it'll pay off big-time. Can't wait for the updates.

=R=

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Wow Dave, what do you mean by "hand stuffing?" As in, you pushed the stuffing in with your fingers, or a chopstick?

Ron, I don't think you have to be too nervous about tasting your jowls. I'm pretty sure that bad meat always smells terrible, so you'd know right away. If I'm wrong, though, somebody please save Ron's life by speaking up! I wonder how old that PSE info is. I wonder because it describes a pig as "thrifty," not a word we'd normally associate with swine in this day and age.

It greatly improves my vocabulary, however, to be able to denounce someone as pale, soft, and exudative, and unthrifty into the bargain!

I wonder whether I'll still be able to see any glands after my guanciale finishes curing, which should be later this week. If so, I'll remove them, but I'm imagining that they've all shrunk up by now. Will they taste vile?

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Abra, I used a piece of pvc pipe just a bit smaller diameter than the casings and about 12 inches long. I would fill the pipe and then push it down with my KA wooden plunger, then start all over again. When I got approximately the size I wanted I would then squeeze the filling to tighten the casing, twist and start all over again. What a pain in the butt! Hopefully it pays off in a few weeks.

Here are some pictures of my jowls that I took out of the cure today.

gallery_16509_1680_28492.jpg

The green here is from the fresh herbs in the cure.

gallery_16509_1680_562948.jpg

Here they are, rinsed and ready to be tied up for hanging in the curing chamber.

Abra, how long have you let yours cure? Are you going by weight loss or time?

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Dave, that stuffing sounded like a lot of work! How long did it take?

I was thinking about something someone mentioned way up topic, and I don't know if this would have worked for you or not. The idea was to take a 1 or 2 litre pop bottle, cut the bottom off and use that as a stuffer. I don't know if the mouth would have been big enough, but it strikes me it sure would have been an easy way to stuff given the size of the plunger.

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Dave, that stuffing sounded like a lot of work!  How long did it take?

I was thinking about something someone mentioned way up topic, and I don't know if this would have worked for you or not.  The idea was to take a 1 or 2 litre pop bottle, cut the bottom off and use that as a stuffer.  I don't know if the mouth would have been big enough, but it strikes me it sure would have been an easy way to stuff given the size of the plunger.

That's a good idea Susan. I'm not sure that the opening in a pop bottle is much bigger than the snout on the KA filler though. As we have discussed up thread, I am certainly going to get a different stuffer before I attempt this again.

I thought that the pieces would fit through the KA fill tube when I started. What I didn't think of is that little piece that holds the worm drive in place. It really constricted the opening and it only took a few minutes to find out it wasn't going to work. At that point I was pretty much frantic, as I had 10 lbs of bind that needed to be filled into something NOW.

Lucky me, I had a brand new piece of PVC that fit the bill.

I think it took about 2 hours once I got the PVC cut and cleaned enough to use it. No big deal now. It'll just make the salame taste all that much better in the end.


Edited by Bombdog (log)

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Abra, how long have you let yours cure?  Are you going by weight loss or time?

Abra, I would be interested to know too.

My jowl has been hanging for ten days now. Took it out for a quick photo yesterday.

gallery_44960_2854_34529.jpg

It has lost some 5-6% of its weight, but based on the consistency and moisture content I think it has at least another 14 days to go. Can't wait for endless plates of spaghetti alla carbonara and bucatini al amatriciana.

I put some pancetta in at the same time, 'Charcuterie' cure. The belly was so thick that I could not roll it. The good news is that it should be ready to go tomorrow.

gallery_44960_2854_66738.jpg

I will be taking 1lb of it up to NY this weekend to cook brunch for a bunch of people. Pics and comments to follow.

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So many chacuteriffic things to discuss....

Aaron! Most excellent! I'm eager to see what you'll do with your products -- so eager, in fact, that I just created this topic devoted entirely to what we do with these remarkable products we're making. Go share!

Meanwhile, I'm still working to enter the world of the bacterially-prepared foodstuffs. Thanks to my dad and some dowels, I think I have a decent curing chamber for starters:

gallery_19804_437_172979.jpg

gallery_19804_437_258487.jpg

It's basically a big plastic bin with an off-center rack supported by two oak dowels. I think there's plenty of room below for a pan of salted ice water. And for the good little charcuterie pixies to play, warding off the evil charcuterie demons with their joyful songs about good bacteria and high humidity.

...

All right, I admit it. I'm freakin' out, man!

Bleached equipment? Distilled water? pH levels? 1/4 cup of bactoferm?? What happened to ziplocks, kosher salt, and finger-poking?

And even if I get the prep right: what then? I don't know too much about my basement, but the mold, mildew, and who knows what all down there is probably evil, fuzzy, and green, not friendly, dusty and white. Them bad bacteria probably treat high humidity like an E-ticket ride at Disneyworld!

Can I get some reassurance here? I'm about to grind up a few pounds of chuck, mix it with who knows what, and throw these links into a black box. Is this as insane as it feels?

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Can I get some reassurance here? I'm about to grind up a few pounds of chuck, mix it with who knows what, and throw these links into a black box. Is this as insane as it feels?

Yes and no. I'm on a burn to delve more seriously into all of this stuff, but I've also got a serious burn that needs to be taken care of (my house and yard in prep for a 50th anniversary party for my folks with 100+ guests, catered by your's truely).

So, a plastic bucket, some dowels, and some chuck. It's only money, and not that much, when you thin about it, and what we probably flushed away far more Frivolously when we were young and carefree. Damn it, we now have responsibilities. The care and keepking of kids means keeping them in charcuterie!

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Well, my guanciale has been hanging for just about 4 weeks now. I'm going by the poke test, and I think it needs a little more time. I'll be cutting a slice off it pretty soon to check it out.

My pancetta hung for a full 4 weeks, and the duck prosciutto, a much smaller piece, took about 2 1/2 weeks. Now the lamb prosciutto, having been double-cured in the fridge for 3 weeks, already looks farther after only hanging for a week along than the guanciale does after 4. I finally wised up and weighed the lamb, though, so this time I can actually report on weight loss.

Chris, I haven't seen the least sign of any mold on anything so far, and this is Seattle. If there's mildew/spores/algae/weird microorganisms to be had, we have 'em. I say go for it.

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Ok, I've read the book and I've tried to follow the whole thread, but I do have a few lingering questions.

I have some smaller pieces of fatback and venison that I am consider turning into lardo and bresaola, respectively. (Per the earlier discussion on the venison, I am comfortable with the parasite risks, I think. The meat has been frozen to take care of trichinosis and we usually eat it seared but rare without trouble, so I don't think I am taking much more risk...I hope.) Rather than the recommended 3-5 pounders, I have something closer to a pound each, maybe even a little less. Size-wise, the venison loin is maybe 2-3 inches in diameter and 6 inches long, and the fatback is something like 6 inches square by 1 inch or so thick. My questions:

1. I am concerned about how much cure to use to be safe but avoid excess salinity. Can I use the dredge method and assume I am ok? Does this work for both types of cure, #1 and #2? In the case where the cure is added in two stages, do I just re-dredge or do I clean off the first cure before dredging a second time?

2. For a curing location, I have very old, dusty basement. Right now, it is in the 60-65F range with maybe 60% humidity, so I am probably ok, if a little warm. However, I am very concerned about cleanliness. This is a very old house. The basement leaks and well, I wouldn't want to guess in what century it was last given a real cleaning - it just isn't that kind of space. I can't imagine it is a mold-free environment. My other option is the fridge. I know there are issues, but some have suggested that it might work, especially coupled with the smaller sizes I am considering.

Any thoughts?

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Hi tazerowe!

1.  I am concerned about how much cure to use to be safe but avoid excess salinity.  Can I use the dredge method and assume I am ok?  Does this work for both types of cure, #1 and #2?

I can't answer for cure #2 (yet...), but I found that dredging bacon with a cure #1 mixture is a very inexact science, and you can pretty much count on a good cure with the ratios in the book even with a fairly light dredge. You also can cut back on the salt a bit more than the book suggests, I've found.

2.  For a curing location, I have very old, dusty basement.  Right now, it is in the 60-65F range with maybe 60% humidity, so I am probably ok, if a little warm.  However, I am very concerned about cleanliness.  This is a very old house.  The basement leaks and well, I wouldn't want to guess in what century it was last given a real cleaning - it just isn't that kind of space.  I can't imagine it is a mold-free environment. 

That's a pretty good description of where I'll be hanging those peperone tonight, so perhaps we need a little joint experimentation to find out! And, if Abra's experience is a guide, we're probably likely to be ok.

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Can I get some reassurance here? I'm about to grind up a few pounds of chuck, mix it with who knows what, and throw these links into a black box. Is this as insane as it feels?

Chris, relax. You're on the way. The only worry you will have in a few weeks is a bigger chamber to cure in. You'll get that one filled up and realize you're hooked and need MORE.

I said it up thread, and I'll say it again. "Help, I'm curing and I can't stop!"

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