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


ronnie_suburban
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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?

Dave

I would think that should work fine.

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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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?

Dave

I would think that should work fine.

Yeah, me too. Certainly worth the experiment. Please let us know about the results if you try it out.

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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Sounds like a consensus to me.

I should have tried it on the chicken sausages I made earlier today. I'll think on it for a couple of days and try it towards the weekend. At the moment I'm thinking of chicken with perhaps some chilpotle...something that the smoke would complement.

Anyone have any suggestions?

Dave Valentin

Retired Explosive Detection K9 Handler

"So, what if we've got it all backwards?" asks my son.

"Got what backwards?" I ask.

"What if chicken tastes like rattlesnake?" My son, the Einstein of the family.

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Sounds like a consensus to me.

I should have tried it on the chicken sausages I made earlier today.  I'll think on it for a couple of days and try it towards the weekend.  At the moment I'm thinking of chicken with perhaps some chilpotle...something that the smoke would complement.

Anyone have any suggestions?

This does sound good. Something with pepper/peppers in it. I've been eyeing those pork ones with Poblano in the book.

I'm off to get back fat tomorrow so I shall resue sausage making this week.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Dave, your post reminded me of something I've figured out but haven't yet shared about the appropriate amount of cure. My first batch I put waaaaaaaay too much cure on the bacon, and it produced an unpalatable saltiness. I've realized that a good guide is to think that I'm dredging the belly; I don't want cure caked onto the belly in any spots, but I want it coated thoroughly with the cure. If that makes sense. :huh:

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Dave, your post reminded me of something I've figured out but haven't yet shared about the appropriate amount of cure. My first batch I put waaaaaaaay too much cure on the bacon, and it produced an unpalatable saltiness. I've realized that a good guide is to think that I'm dredging the belly; I don't want cure caked onto the belly in any spots, but I want it coated thoroughly with the cure. If that makes sense. :huh:

I'm working with smaller pieces (because I can get them easily at the local market, and that means I can experiment more) and using vacuum sealed bags for the curing, so I'm sprinkling rather than dredging. I just used a slightly larger piece (by about 1/3 lb) than I had been, and over-compensated.

--Dave

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a response to a few points of discussion here. three tablespoons of salt or 4 tablespoons of basic dry cure will cure as much as five pounds of belly, but dredging as described above is also a sure method of getting the right amount of salt.

believe it or not, you can use rendered fat to make an emulsified sausage or any sausage as long as it's freezing cold and ground. remember though that it no longer has water in it so increase that a little.

for the mortadella that wants more pinkness and tangyness, you might try increasing the pink salt to one teaspoon, and also perhaps seasoning the mixture with an acid, lemon juice or white wine vinegar (but not enough to actually taste which acid it is).

boudin blancs are a great sausage to make--make sure your spices are very fresh.

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Another silly question...

I'm thinking of getting a Hygrometer, but am not ready to fork over the big bucks. Has anyone tried the small hygrometers for reptile terrariums (like $3 or something)? Is that going to give me a close enough reading or do I need something with precision? What are the +/- on the humidity and temp that still makes conditions acceptable? (I know the actual answer to this is “it depends” but if anyone can add a little more guidance it would be greatly appreciated.)

Also, does the room smell sausagey when it’s hanging? (Not that I have a problem with this, just looking to manage my & husband's expectations.) And do I need to put some kind of drip pad under it to catch the water? (All the jamon serrano I saw in curing Spain had the little fat hats on the bottom of them to catch the drips, but I didn’t know if that was specific to ham.)

Thanks for all the pointers!

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Another silly question...

I'm thinking of getting a Hygrometer, but am not ready to fork over the big bucks. Has anyone tried the small hygrometers for reptile terrariums (like $3 or something)? Is that going to give me a close enough reading or do I need something with precision? What are the +/- on the humidity and temp that still makes conditions acceptable? (I know the actual answer to this is “it depends” but if anyone can add a little more guidance it would be greatly appreciated.)

I use a digital one that I swiped from an unused cigar humidor and it works fine for me. I mean, all you are really trying to do is find out what the RH is. The books gives you a 20 percent variation, I believe, so nothing fantastically acurate is necessary.

My box (an unused refrigerator) stays at about 48-53 degrees and the RH is anywhere from 50 to 70 percent. I have a container of salted water in the box to help keep the humidity up.

Dave Valentin

Retired Explosive Detection K9 Handler

"So, what if we've got it all backwards?" asks my son.

"Got what backwards?" I ask.

"What if chicken tastes like rattlesnake?" My son, the Einstein of the family.

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Happy dance...I have back fat. A lot of it.

I want to do a venison sausage. The venison sausage (smoked) in the book just doesn't turn my crank. I've been thinking of subbing the vension for the turkey in the turskey sausage with dried tart cherries, except I can't seem to find dried tart cherries that don't have any sugar added.

Some suggestions, please. I'd like to do a sausage with something other than meat, fat and spices. A veg or a fruit. Lighten it up. Ideas, please. I still have one deer in the freezer.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Happy dance...I have back fat.  A lot of it.

I want to do a venison sausage. 

Susan, I did the Hungarian smoked sausage from the book, where I substituted venison for the beef. It's nearly done (been hanging for about 5 weeks) and it's quite tasty. However, it doesn't have near the gamy flavor of venison that I wanted.

That's why I was asking for recipe ideas last week. I ended up making a venison salame that I incubated yesterday and hung today. My thought was that a dry cured version would have more of the gamy venison flavor I was looking for.

I really have little experience with game, so compatible flavors are a mystery to me. I suppose I'll have to wait a few weeks to see how this project turns out.

If Michael can get Brian to respond perhaps we can get some ideas from him.

Edited by Bombdog (log)

Dave Valentin

Retired Explosive Detection K9 Handler

"So, what if we've got it all backwards?" asks my son.

"Got what backwards?" I ask.

"What if chicken tastes like rattlesnake?" My son, the Einstein of the family.

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Happy dance...I have back fat.  A lot of it.

I want to do a venison sausage.  The venison sausage (smoked) in the book just doesn't turn my crank.  I've been thinking of subbing the vension for the turkey in the turskey sausage with dried tart cherries, except I can't seem to find dried tart cherries that don't have any sugar added.

Some suggestions, please.  I'd like to do a sausage with something other than meat, fat and spices.  A veg or a fruit.  Lighten it up.  Ideas, please.  I still have one deer in the freezer.

Do you have any Whole Foods near by or any other "natural" foods store? they should carry cherries with no sugar added in their bulk bins.

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Speaking of venison:

1. I did the venison terrine from Charcuterie a couple of weeks ago and was very pleased. It had a nice texture, and the cherries worked well with the meat (although they remained rather alcoholic after a soak in brandy and a very slow cooking.

2. Has anyone tried an air-dried cured venison loin, something like bresaola? I've still got plenty of meat left and thought I might give it a shot.

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With wild venison i'd be worried about parasites...

I had a PM discussion about this very thing with Michael several months ago. It was my belief that if you freeze the meat for at least 3 weeks prior to curing that you would be okay.

Dave Valentin

Retired Explosive Detection K9 Handler

"So, what if we've got it all backwards?" asks my son.

"Got what backwards?" I ask.

"What if chicken tastes like rattlesnake?" My son, the Einstein of the family.

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With wild venison i'd be worried about parasites...

I had a PM discussion about this very thing with Michael several months ago. It was my belief that if you freeze the meat for at least 3 weeks prior to curing that you would be okay.

Mine has been in the freezer much longer than that. I know that is supposed to take care of the trichinosis (sp?). I don't know what else I would be up against...

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Happy dance...I have back fat.  A lot of it.

I want to do a venison sausage.  The venison sausage (smoked) in the book just doesn't turn my crank.  I've been thinking of subbing the vension for the turkey in the turskey sausage with dried tart cherries, except I can't seem to find dried tart cherries that don't have any sugar added.

Some suggestions, please.  I'd like to do a sausage with something other than meat, fat and spices.  A veg or a fruit.  Lighten it up.  Ideas, please.  I still have one deer in the freezer.

Brian's response: "Sub in any dried fruit, apricots, prunes, raisins etc.. sugar added to dreid tart cherries probably because they would be too tart after drying. What’s wrong with sugar? Try caramelized onions or roasted garlic as a moisture and flavor enhancer. On the gamey issue depending on what the animal had as a diet will determine the flavor of the meat also aging the meat properly before freezing will enhance the taste. I’ll tell milos tonight that this guy doesn’t like his recipe."

the venison sausage is quite good actually.

michael symon in cleveland does dried venison loin. and yes, freezing will take care of trichinosis bugs.

Edited by Michael Ruhlman (log)
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One thing about dried cherries is that they are often dried using sugar. Compared to other chemical-reliant processes, that might actually be preferrable.

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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I’ll tell milos tonight that this guy doesn’t like his recipe."

the venison sausage is quite good actually.

HEY, not fair! That's not what I said!

I didn't make the Chef Milo's venison sausage, I made the Hungarian paprika sausage, substituting venison for the beef. I like it fine, it just didn't have the gamy flavor I had presupposed it would.

Edited by Bombdog (log)

Dave Valentin

Retired Explosive Detection K9 Handler

"So, what if we've got it all backwards?" asks my son.

"Got what backwards?" I ask.

"What if chicken tastes like rattlesnake?" My son, the Einstein of the family.

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I want to post my latest effort, Canadian bacon, and start a discussion about smoking technique.

gallery_16307_2661_7343.jpg

Here's the bacon. It's very delicious, but more or less indistinguishable from ham. Now that I think of it, except for the cut of meat, is there supposed to be a difference?

But smoking this got me to thinking. Now that I know about cold smoking and hot smoking, I just naturally combined the two on this bacon. Since we know smoke is absorbed at the lower temps, I reasoned, why not smoke this at a lower temp for a while to keep the outer surface of the meat below 140, then, because it's supposed to get to 150 internally, crank it up towards the end? So that's what I did, kept it at about 100-125 for a couple of hours, then fired it up to 200-225 for the last hour. It was getting dark, or I would have held an even lower temp for longer, before heating it up for the finish.

So, what do you all think - is there a potential benefit to doing both lower and higher temp smoking on the same meat? My Canadian bacon is very smoky (I used apple) and has a clear, bright flavor that I quite love, but I don't know whether the technique made a difference to this or not.

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bombdog, he was refering to snowangels comment, and he's cranky today anyway.

abra, your bacon looks perfect. the reason for smoking at a low temp is to get more smoke on the meat; if that's what you want, you did it just right.

there isn't much difference between ham and canadian bacon, that's what pork cured with sodium nitrite tastes like--you'd get the same flavor if you did it with a pork chop, or as a pork shoulder (which is called a cottage ham in some places).

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So, what do you all think - is there a potential benefit to doing both lower and higher temp smoking on the same meat?  My Canadian bacon is very smoky (I used apple) and has a clear, bright flavor that I quite love, but I don't know whether the technique made a difference to this or not.

I realize that Michael has already weighed in here but this is also how my butcher does it with the smoked meats he produces. He starts them out at lower temp, lets the smoke do its thing and then turns up the heat after that to accomplish the "cooking" phase.

Of course, knowing exactly how much smoke to use is still the elusive (and personal) issue. As was said upthread, that's why note-taking is so valuable with these types of projects. Once you learn your own preferences, recording them -- and how you achieved them -- is incredibly useful.

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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About the trichinosis - the CDC web site says to freeze pork less than 6" thick at 5' for 20 days. Then it goes on to say that freezing game meats may not effectively kill all worms and the only sure fire way to do that is complete cooking, and that smoking, curing and drying also don't work. The trich risk seems low with venison as it mainly affects meat eating critters, but my whole family is from Montana and lived on game in the last century and wouldn't touch less than well cooked venison for all the other parasites. Everything has risks, you just need to be as well informed as you can when you take those risks, or expose others to them.

I know Carlton Farms sells Trich-free pork that's been held at something like -30 for 8 days and is certified as such.

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