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ronnie_suburban

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

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Juniper :biggrin:

tracey

Thanks Tracey....do you mean like crushed berries?

Dave

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I took another crack at the hot Italian sausages in the book this weekend. The recipe turned out great (I stuck to it save for substituting red wine for the vinegar), but I'm posting mainly because I started asking more questions about those tricky emulsions. Here is my tale....

I scored a Niman Ranch (do you pronounce it with a long "e" or a long "i," btw?) butt at Whole Foods, where I also grabbed a length of casings. A few things went very well: soaking the casings in warm water for an hour and keeping them wet while I was stuffing was particularly useful, and I put the KA mixer on a low table instead of the counter, which made stuffing far easier.

Most importantly for this post, I took temperatures throughout the process, and after I had ground the meat and seasonings, the meat was at 43F, three degrees over the book's threshold. I got a little nervous, but forged onward, sticking the bowl into the freezer until the meat was well below 35F. I then paddled it for over a minute with the frozen bowl and paddle, but just to be sure I added some finely crushed ice to the very cold red wine and the mixture stayed pretty cold (around 37ish) throughout.

I then stuffed the emulsion into the casings with great care and calm for the first time since I started. You see, I've been very paranoid about getting the meat in the casings while cold. However, having hung the andouille at room temp for a while before smoking it, I started thinking that Michael's comment above is right: once the emulsion is set, it's ok for it to get above 40F or more.

So my tentative conclusions were as follows. It's a good idea to keep the meat as cold as possible throughout the dicing, combining with seasonings, and grinding. However, this time around I was less diligent about keeping things cold through these stages (see above) -- but I was hellbent on leather to bring the ground meat way below 40F and keep it there in order to achieve the primary bind. Once I got the emulsion, I didn't worry so much about temps.

That is all to say: I hypothesized that, while keeping things cold is a good goal throughout the process, one can get away with less-than-frigid temps here and there but NOT during the paddling to set the primary bind.

I'm here to report that these sausages turned out fantastic, with just as good a texture as I've ever had. I got no fat leaking out, no crumb-like texture, none of the signs that the emulsion had broken. Quite the opposite: I and my guests agreed that they were excellent. (On a side note, they grilled up over some hardwood charcoal fantastically well.)

The reason I'm going on (and on, and on...) about this is that real-life cooking requires me at times to find places where I can be a bit more relaxed. Shuttling things from the freezer to the cutting board to the freezer to the grinder to the freezer to the mixing bowl to the freezer to the stuffer can be a real PITA when I don't have three hours handy. If it is true that one can be a bit more relaxed leading up to and following the primary bind stage, then it would make things a lot easier.

Phew. Ok. Thoughts?

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Niman is pronounce with a long i, not a long e. Bill Niman was on FoodTV a while back...i always thought it was with a long eeeee.

yes...making sausages is always a 3-5 jhours endeavor with chilling and cleaning...

jason

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Chris, thanks for the exhaustive study. Now that I think about it, my chicken sausages were more crumbly that I would have liked, and I thought it might have been because I didn't have enough fat, but I was quite concerned about the paddling immediately after the run through the meat grinder. Now that I think back, I should have put this stuff back into the freezer before I paddled the mixture, and ice to the liquid is a very good idea.

I'll get some back fat this week so will try my next batch.

I'm noticing that the pork butts I can get easily are not as fatty as I'd like, but the country ribs are, and I'm thinking of subbing country ribs for butt. Comments?

And, an observation. You are absolutely right about putting the KA on a lower surface. And, it sure helps to have two kids around (who are very good in the kitchen) when stuffing and schlepping to and fro the freezer!

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Now that I think about it, my chicken sausages were more crumbly that I would have liked, and I thought it might have been because I didn't have enough fat, but I was quite concerned about the paddling immediately after the run through the meat grinder.  Now that I think back, I should have put this stuff back into the freezer before I paddled the mixture, and ice to the liquid is a very good idea.

Makes sense to me. I do think that doing the 80/20 meat-to-fat ratio for chicken is important, given that the meat itself has no marbling, unlike pork and beef.

I'm noticing that the pork butts I can get easily are not as fatty as I'd like, but the country ribs are, and I'm thinking of subbing country ribs for butt.  Comments?

I've noticed that too. Try it out and let us know.

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Thanks, Chris, for the thorough "report from the field." Detailed information like that is incredibly valuable as we all work on our projects, in our separate locations.

Today I talked to a man who's been making sausage for decades at Paulina Market here in Chicago. He was a font of information. It was very cool. Prompted by my inquisitive companion, I asked him about the sausage "spider lines" we've been discussing here, throughout the thread. He referred to them as "whiskers" and said, without hesitation, that they should not be there. But, he also said that they have nothing to do with any part of the actual sausage-making process. Sometimes, that's just how the casings come from the processor. But, they're not supposed to be that way. Not exactly a bad batch, but something along those lines . . . a QC lapse, perhaps.

=R=

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My thanks too Chris. I'm making some chicken sausages this week and I'm going to make use of the instant read thermometer also. Thus far I've not had any luck with this project, all turning out tasty but crumbly.

Ronnie, I've noticed that some of my casing have the spider lines and some don't and haven't really given it much thought.

Dave

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Ronnie, I've noticed that some of my casing have the spider lines and some don't and haven't really given it much thought.

Yeah, I'd really stopped thinking about it too but there were a few links in the case today at Paulina which had those lines and my friend reminded me to ask. Of course, there were thousands of links there and only a few of one type of sausage seemed to have them. Anyway, I thought it was at least worth mentioning that, according to one very seasoned voice, whether one ends up with them or not, isn't a function of the sausage-making, per se.

=R=

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Ronnie, I've noticed that some of my casing have the spider lines and some don't and haven't really given it much thought.

Anyway, I thought it was at least worth mentioning that, according to one very seasoned voice, whether one ends up with them or not, isn't a function of the sausage-making, per se.

=R=

That was my first thought when I read your post, that at least we all knew now that we were not screwing something up in the process that caused the lines.

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My thanks too Chris.  I'm making some chicken sausages this week and I'm going to make use of the instant read thermometer also.  Thus far I've not had any luck with this project, all turning out tasty but crumbly.

Ronnie, I've noticed that some of my casing have the spider lines and some don't and haven't really given it much thought. 

Dave

Bruce Aidells recommends using the skin of the chicken thighs along with the mmeat for added juiciness. :unsure: But he doesn't add pork fat. :shock: I made the chicken sausages with sun-drid tomatoes and basil with the recommended volume of fat plus some of the skin. No problems with crunbliness, but the pork fat is indispensible!

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I decided to try my hand at an emulsified sausage and made the mortadella. Mainly because it is one of my favorite cold cuts and i wanted to see how close I can come to making the real deal.

I followed the recipe exactly and paid extra attention to the temp. I froze all tools, grinder, food processor, bowls..... I used the processor to emulsify the meat and boy do I need a bigger food processor, it still worked with no major problems though. Unfortunatly when I was mixing everything I found out I only had half the required quantity of powdered milk. I know this is there for the protein content and I even debated for a second if I should add a couple of egg whites to make up for the missing milk powder. I decided against that and finished the recipe as is. For casings, I used fibrous inedible casings, and split the mixture into two casings.

As far as I could tell the mixture did not break, there was no crumbly texture, no fat pooling in the casing and the finished product sliced perfectly. I think the missing 35 grams or so of powdered milk contributed to a slightly softer texture than the ideal Mortadella though. am I corect in this assessment?

The taste was very good and I am very happy with the end result. I did miss the more pink Mortadella color and a certain tanginess that the store bought one has. Any idea how i can get these two aspects into this recipe?

I think a boudin blanc is in my near future...

here is the emulsified mixture:

gallery_5404_2234_206206.jpg

the poached sausages

gallery_5404_2234_333044.jpg

sliced

gallery_5404_2234_471871.jpg

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All of your sausages look so fantastic! I am excited and motivated to join in the fun.

My first question, right off the bat. My order from Butcher/Packer Supply arrived yesterday and the casings were packaged differently than I was expecting. They are in what looks like a salt bath the consistency of a thin bechemal. Is this normal? What do I need to do with them now to store them until I am ready to use them?

Thanks,

Lauren

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It sounds like they use a salt slurry instead of just moist salt. I'd follow the usual rinse-and-soak directions -- or give them a call at Butcher Packer. They were very helpful with my initial dumb-as-a-stick questions.

Now slightly smarter than a stick,

Chris

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Elie's comments about his food processor's capacity prompted me to add that everytime I use our 6 qt KA mixer to get that primary bind with 5+ pounds of meat, I test its capacity. The paddle tends to push up the meat as it mixes, so I have to use a large spatula to press down on the top of the meat as the mixer beats it.

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Elie's comments about his food processor's capacity prompted me to add that everytime I use our 6 qt KA mixer to get that primary bind with 5+ pounds of meat, I test its capacity. The paddle tends to push up the meat as it mixes, so I have to use a large spatula to press down on the top of the meat as the mixer beats it.

Chris, you bring up a very interesting point. My KA is almost 25 years old (it was a wedding present) from back in the days when they only sold a 4 quart mixer. Now, I'm not about ready to replace my mixer, but since I have two bowls, I'm tempted to grind into one bowl, divide the mixture in half (by weight) add the liquids (in halves) and do the primary bind in two steps. I wonder if that wasn't part of my problem. Too much stuff for the bowl (as well as not cold enough).

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I haven't had luck using the KA mixer (standard 5 qt model) for the bind. The meat mixture crawls right up the paddle and gets all over the rotating thingie. Very messy and a PITA to clean up.

My last batch of breakfast sausage, I just put it in a big icy cold bowl and first beat the hell out of it with a wooden paddle... till that broke. Then I used my impeccably clean hands and beat the hell out of it a bunch more. (Hey, if the CIA butchery instructor shows me that way in a class, then I say it's OK!)

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I forgot to add that it was a pain to get rid of the air spaces when filling the casing with the Mortadella mix. I kinda massaged and squeezed the stuffed casing to get rid of all of them. Then I rolled it very tight and tied it with butcher string.

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This is exactly what I do. Bind in two batches and combine by hand at the end.

Chris, you bring up a very interesting point.  My KA is almost 25 years old (it was a wedding present) from back in the days when they only sold a 4 quart mixer.  Now, I'm not about ready to replace my mixer, but since I have two bowls, I'm tempted to grind into one bowl, divide the mixture in half (by weight) add the liquids (in halves) and do the primary bind in two steps.  I wonder if that wasn't part of my problem.  Too much stuff for the bowl (as well as not cold enough).

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A really silly question... can I use fats interchangeably?

I have a block of lard, bacon drippings and some chicken fat. Do I need to buy fat back (back fat?) to make sausage or am I OK subsituting with fat I've already got? Does the rendering of the bacon drippings make them not as useful for a sausage?

Thanks!

-Melissa

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I'm sure that someone more expert would be a more useful respondent, but I'm pretty darned sure that the answer is no, you can't use lard, schmaltz, or bacon drippings instead of uncooked fat. The texture of the fat is crucial to the emulsion, definition, texture, and so on. There may be recipes that use lard, bacon grease, etc., that's not what you want in the recipes in this book.

Again, I'm pretty sure.

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I'm thinking that Chris is right on the fat thing. There's something that changes in the fat when it is rendered. Back fat (fat back) is way different that lard. At least with the back fat and lard I've seen.

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I'm thinking that Chris is right on the fat thing.  There's something that changes in the fat when it is rendered.  Back fat (fat back) is way different that lard.  At least with the back fat and lard I've seen.

I would guess the same thing as well. One reason might be because fat still has "other" stuff in it like water, proteins and so on that either evaporate or gets strained out from the rendered fat.

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Thanks! I will get me some official fat back for my sausages.

It's unfortunate that you can't use other fats. How decadent would it be to have a bacon dripping sausage? (Although I'm sure the sausages are decadent enough as is...)

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Thanks! I will get me some official fat back for my sausages.

It's unfortunate that you can't use other fats. How decadent would it be to have a bacon dripping sausage? (Although I'm sure the sausages are decadent enough as is...)

Well, I think there is some interchangability with fats, but it seems like they do need to be raw. For example, using fat back in a lamb sausage -- as is recommended in the book -- would certainly work. And I'll bet that rendered bacon fat might work if it were added in small quantities, as a flavoring. But, as others have mentioned, it probably lacks the attributes which would make it functional in sausage making.

=R=

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Now this whole question has me wondering.

I trimmed about 1/4 lb or more of totally unnecessary fat from one of the last slabs of bacon that I smoked. My thought was saving it to add to some future sausage project for the smoke flavor without going through the smoking process.

I wasn't considering totally substituting the fat back in the recipe, just adding some of the smoked fat.

What is the consensus here? Or do I just do it and report back?

I'm getting ready to tube out 5 lbs of a venison salame...I'll be reporting back in about 4 weeks or so.

Dave

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