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Bombdog

Curing and Cooking with Ruhlman & Polcyn's "Charcuterie" (Part 4)

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DerekW   

Our local supermarket had [of all things] a special on whole pig legs at an irresistable price so there's some ham experimentation taking place. I feel I should be avoiding the agri-business beasts, but if I'm going to mess things up, better to do the experimenting on the offered legs.

"It followed me home, can I keep it?"

The real question:

The recipe for the dry cure for Blackstrap Ham [on page 199 of my copy] calls for 3lbs of salt and what seems like a huge amount of #2 cure - 12oz.

Can anyone confirm that the quantities are correct before I go giving friends and family nitrate poisoning? Mr Ruhlman, are you still out there?

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A Patric   

I'm also really interested in doing a dry-cured ham lately, so I'll be keeping my eyes on your experience. Hopefully you can keep us updated.

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mdbasile   

Here is some Kielbasa and 3 kinds of bacon (cajun, garlic and maple)... forgot my camera, but also have been busy making Brats, Duck garlic and sage sausage, Salmon, duck procuitto, smoked duck breast, Lardo, and beef jerky....

I'll try to get photos and post this week...

gallery_33268_2905_650065.jpg

gallery_33268_2905_883096.jpg


Edited by mdbasile (log)

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mdbasile   

I have a storage question with all this stuff. How long can I store all this stuff in the food save packs?

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Mallet   

No more than 24 hours. I guess you now have to invite us all over to help you dispose of the product...

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Well, I'm finally posting, and I have a good reason why:

Where the Belly Meets the Plate is a great article on the charcuterie revolution and pig sourcing. The authors of this book are also quoted in the article.

I had a chance to read this entire thread a month ago, and read the entire book quickly. Unfortunately, since I live in an apartment, there's little that I can do -- I've only tackled the salmon (with excellent results).

This weekend, I attended a 3-hour chef's cooking class at NECI (New England Culinary Institute) and I had a great time picking their brains about their charcuterie. Their students are responsible for making various products for the excellent Sunday brunch; I had a few pates, wonderful smoked sausage, and cured salmon that tasted exactly like I had made (with the Pernod and anise flavors). Everything was so...fresh.

So, one day, when I have a place to hang, grind, cure, and smoke meat, I'll experiment some more, but for now, I will have to live vicariously. Keep the pictures coming!

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A Patric   

For all of you that have dry-cured whole hams, or have read a lot about the process, I have a couple of questions. I don't care if you are an expert or a novice, if you've dry-cured a whole ham, then you out-rank me in terms of knowledge, and I'd like to hear what you have to say.

Okay, here are my two issues. In the book, there are two dry-cured ham recipes. Both of them call for a whole ham with the skin on. I just picked up a ham a couple of days ago, and it is skinless.

Question, has anyone else used a skinless whole ham for the dry-cured recipes? If so, did it end up too salty, or were there any other problems? Any suggestions?

Issue number two, does anyone have any clue why the "Salt-cured ham" recipe wouldn't have any nitrates/nitrites in it? Wouldn't it be a bit safer with some? The Blackstrap ham does have DQ curing salt #2 in it. Has anyone experimented with adding some #2 to the "salt-cured" ham? How has the flavor and color changed?

On a related note, do prosciutto, Serrano, and Bayonne hams generally only have salt as a curing agent, or is there another curing agent added too?

Thanks to anyone and everyone for any info!

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If you're reading this thread you're probably passionate about curing so you might enjoy this:

Pigs & Pinot (swine & wine)

From the link provided above by moosnsqrl:

Second Annual Celebration of Pigs and Pinot

Wednesday, January 24th

TASTE OF PIGS & PINOT -- OPENING NIGHT CELEBRATION

6:30 - 9 pm ~ $75 per person

Sample over 50 pinot noirs paired with pork dishes such as homemade sausages, charcuterie, grilled pork, pates and special creations from our guest chefs.

Thursday, January 25th

SWINE & WINE SEMINARS

10:30 am ~ $150 per person

Choose one of three topics:

Pigs & Pinot Cup

Perfecting the Pig and a Passion for Pork

The Craft of Salting & Curing

All seminars will be followed by lunch.

. . . I would certainly hope so! :wink:

=R=

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For all of you that have dry-cured whole hams, or have read a lot about the process, I have a couple of questions.  I don't care if you are an expert or a novice, if you've dry-cured a whole ham, then you out-rank me in terms of knowledge, and I'd like to hear what you have to say.

Okay, here are my two issues.  In the book, there are two dry-cured ham recipes.  Both of them call for a whole ham with the skin on.  I just picked up a ham a couple of days ago, and it is skinless.

Question, has anyone else used a skinless whole ham for the dry-cured recipes?  If so, did it end up too salty, or were there any other problems?  Any suggestions?

Issue number two, does anyone have any clue why the "Salt-cured ham" recipe wouldn't have any nitrates/nitrites in it?  Wouldn't it be a bit safer with some?  The Blackstrap ham does have DQ curing salt #2 in it.  Has anyone experimented with adding some #2 to the "salt-cured" ham?  How has the flavor and color changed? 

On a related note, do prosciutto, Serrano, and Bayonne hams generally only have salt as a curing agent, or is there another curing agent added too?

Thanks to anyone and everyone for any info!

Prosciutto and serrano use ONLY salt. Some say that since they use sea salt the nitrites are already in it....

As for using skinless, i don't know, i immagine it would be a pain b/c you have to coat the skinless areas with a lard mixture to prevent them from overdrying...you'd basically have your whole ham covered in the stuff.

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dansch   

So, after feeling depressed over a couple of recent charcuterie failures (lomo got too dry on the outside and didn't work out), I was quite pleased to pull down my spicy sopressata today and find that not only does it look fantastic, it's downright delicious!

This was made from a recipe in "Cooking by Hand" and stuffed in to beef middles (my first attempt at larger sausage diameter).

gallery_27805_3593_4456.jpg

Cheers, -Dan

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So, after feeling depressed over a couple of recent charcuterie failures (lomo got too dry on the outside and didn't work out), I was quite pleased to pull down my spicy sopressata today and find that not only does it look fantastic, it's downright delicious!

This was made from a recipe in "Cooking by Hand" and stuffed in to beef middles (my first attempt at larger sausage diameter).

gallery_27805_3593_4456.jpg

Cheers, -Dan

No more pix if you're not prepared to send out samples, please. :biggrin:

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So, after feeling depressed over a couple of recent charcuterie failures (lomo got too dry on the outside and didn't work out), I was quite pleased to pull down my spicy sopressata today and find that not only does it look fantastic, it's downright delicious!

This was made from a recipe in "Cooking by Hand" and stuffed in to beef middles (my first attempt at larger sausage diameter).

gallery_27805_3593_4456.jpg

Cheers, -Dan

Dan, that is beautiful, and I wish you'd tell us more about the mixture, how you ground it, and how you stuffed it. How was working with beef middles? Where did you get them?

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dansch   
Dan, that is beautiful, and I wish you'd tell us more about the mixture, how you ground it, and how you stuffed it.  How was working with beef middles?  Where did you get them?

Thanks for all of the kind words.

The mixture itself was ground using the coarse plate on the KA grinder. I held aside a little bit of back fat to dice by hand to vary the texture a bit. All of the meat and fat was from a pig that I got from a local organic farmer - Tamworth breed, I think - that in and of itself was a cool experience - I went out to the farm and butchered it with him. Definitely learned my way around a carcass...

The beef middles came from Butcher-Packer and are quite a bit different than what I was expecting. Instead of see-through thin hog casings, these have thick white walls that are just barely translucent. Creepiness factor aside, they're super easy to work with. I used my Grisly stuffer with the widest filling tube and just packed it on in. I tied them off in to individual ~14 inch lengths, as my curing chamber isn't that tall.

Here are the sausages just after stuffing - definitely not an appetizing scene:

gallery_27805_3593_132702.jpg

Given the exterior hardening issue I had with my lomo (which, FWIW, I had stuffed in to an inedible collagen casing hoping to help slow down the drying - maybe next time I'll just rub it with some lard and hang it without a casing), I was definitely worried about case hardening, but it all worked out Ok.

Total drying time was about a month and a half.

Cheers,

-Dan

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dansch   

Also thought I'd toss up a couple of pictures from my day of country ham curing. A good friend of mine, David (pictured below), has been curing his own country hams for a couple of years and invited me and a mutual friend Brad to join him this year. We ordered a stack of 5 hams from a local organic farmer we know (plus one from the pig I butchered) and set to curing. Unfortunately the hams that the farm sent us already had the skin removed.

David has a small smoke house on his property (my photos don't really do it justice) that has a slightly slanted curing table, hooks from the ceiling, and a fire pit in the center - very very cool. So, after rinsing the hams off, we set to massaging in a mixture of salt and brown sugar (David doesn't do nitrates, but I added DC #2 to my mix):

gallery_27805_3593_11764.jpg

Once rubbed down, we set them in to their own individual piles of curing mix, tossed some mix on top, and let them sit. To the left is a 20+ pound skinless ham with sea salt and brown sugar only, off to the right is my much smaller ~15 lb ham, skin still on, with salt, brown sugar, and DC#2:

gallery_27805_3593_144566.jpg

Given that all of my experiences with curing thus far have involved bleaching down work surfaces, sanitizing mixer and grinder parts, etc., this whole process was a bit odd. Obviously this is how hams have been cured for a long long time (as evidenced by David's awesome smoke house - who knows how old that thing is) and I shouldn't worry about it. That said, definitely a bit odd.

So, right now the hams get flipped and rubbed down every few days. After 4-6 weeks we'll wash them off, hang them, smoke them, and then let them hang and cure until we get hungry and can't take it anymore!

Cheers,

-Dan

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Thanks, Dan, for sharing your experience here. Your post is really instructional . . . and inspirational too! You've dispelled a lot of my 'fears' about this type of project.

=R=

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We’ve been working our way through the book for a few months. We went on a Christmas “toy” binge so we’re pretty well set. Pastrami came out pretty good. Sausages look and taste nice. I’m getting ready to start on the dry cured stuff now. We tasted some great Spanish Chorizo at Olivetto this past weekend and it’s inspired me to make some. Paul Canales did a demo on cutting up a lamp and a pig Saturday including how to do a trotter for Zampone. We are cutting up a whole Berkshire in a few weeks so this year we though we’d devote a good porting of it to charcuterie cuts.

If anyone has some suggestions please feel free to help us out. A good recipe for Zampone would be nice too.

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ok, a quick question. I am wondering how much nitrate there is in pink salt. I live in Norway, and what we get here is called "nitrit-salt" and has a lw level of nitrates. Butchers use only this when they make bacon etc. I just made 20 pounds of bacon using coarse sea salt, pepper, brown sugar and regular sugar, then smoked it with juniperbushes for 6-7 hours. I was a bit grey at the edges, but as I cut into it, it was very red. Can this come from the smoke or is th from the salt? Also, is it very necessary to use nitrates in curing?

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Nitrates add safety and maintain the red color. Nitrates break down to nitrites over time.

In cure #1 : It consists of 93.75% table salt and 6.25% sodium nitrite.

Cure #2 has nitrates, but i'm not sure about the concentration

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You could use Paul Bertolli's recipe for cotechino to stuff your zampone. It is very good. the mixture is the same.

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Vacuum sealing is considered to be an excellent way to marinade. I don't see why it would be any different for curing, but I'm not a science guy.

This is a fasinating thread, I have been sitting here 2 hours reading it.

Regarding the question above here is part of a technical bulletin from one of the biggest suppliers of butchers curing and season supply's in the UK.

Cure In The Bag Method

Advantages: Reduces curing time, prevents meat oxidation and contamination.

1) Carry out instructions up to point 2 as above.

2) Place the rubbed meat in a vacuum bag and pull vacuum seal.

Cheers

Norman

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