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Bombdog

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

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My only real complaint is, in spite of what the pics show, that the fish was a bit drier than I am used to.  Lox, as I know it, is much oilier.  I attribute this to the use of curing salt but I'm not sure that's accurate.  What I do know is that the fish's texture changed very little after it had been smoked.  After 36 hours of curing, it was much stiffer than I am used to when I make gravlax, which contains only Kosher salt.  Next time out, I will almost certainly omit the pink salt and see how it affects the final product.

=R=

I have not used the curing salt and the mosture seems fine. I have found that whenever I make the gravelox - a couple of days in the fridge - esp in a food saver package - helps the texture immensely - frankly seems to get better after a week or two. The dry edge and the more wet middle seem to have a little osmosis going on...

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So here we all are making and eating salted, smokey pork fat to our hearts content...

So last week  - Well - I went to the doc for a check-up....

He freaked - BP way high, cholesterol high, blood sugar high...weight up.....

Interesting. I've had just the opposite happen to me. I've lost just a tad over 60 lbs in the past 11 months. My b/p is down and my cholesteral has dropped so much my Dr removed me from the meds.

I admit to a pretty aggressive work out regimen, but I eat ALOT of my own stuff, nearly every day.

Interestingly, I too am quite active - daily excersie regimen - however there is only so much Na2 that my body can process....

Getting older doesn't help either....

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Getting older doesn't help either....

Rub it in, will ya? That's exactly what caused me to lose 60 lbs!

Just to keep us on topic. I just finished stuffing 13 lbs of sopressata. It's in the oven to inoculate as we speak.

No doubt, this is my favorite of all the cured salami I've made. But, even with the Grizzly, this is a labor of love. Dicing all that pork and fat by hand is a CHORE!


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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Is the soppressata from the book? What size casing did you use?

And yes, dicing meat and fat is a lot of flippin' work.

Yep, right there on page 186. I'm using beef middles.


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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interesting notes on blood pressure etc. mine went down after working on the book, both bp and cholesterol. i think that if we eat natural foods our body helps us to regulate what we need and what we don't. we're super sensitive to salt concentration when it's not in soda and lean cuisines, so when we gorge on bacon, we eat less salt the next day. cholesterol, i don't know. i just suspect pork fat isn't as bad as other animal fats, especially when combined with a diet low in processed food.

ron, the reason for pink salt in smoked salmon is to prevent botulism, which can grow on the outside of the salmon in a smokey warm environment. it doesn't have anything to do with dryness. i'll bet that comes from curing a really good lean wild fish--which requires considerably less time on the cure than grocery store salmon. because it doesn't affect flavor much, i'd leave the pink salt but cut down on the cure time.


Edited by Michael Ruhlman (log)

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ron, the reason for pink salt in smoked salmon is to prevent botulism, which can grow on the outside of the salmon in a smoky warm environment.  it doesn't have anything to do with dryness.  i'll bet that comes from curing a really good lean wild fish--which requires considerably less time on the cure than grocery store salmon.  because it doesn't affect flavor much, i'd leave the pink salt but cut down on the cure time.

Gotcha. Thanks for the input, Michael. Coho is somewhat lean but it was definitely the 'best available' at the time. I'll cut it back to 24 hours of curing next time around and see what goes. The piece of salmon from Costco was so much smaller, comparing the results (on that level) is probably not relevant.

I too just had a physical and while the results weren't fantastic, my bp and cholesterol were both lower than at my last visit to the doc.

FWIW, I didn't mention my new hobby :wink:

=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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Getting older doesn't help either....

Rub it in, will ya? That's exactly what caused me to lose 60 lbs!

Just to keep us on topic. I just finished stuffing 13 lbs of sopressata. It's in the oven to inoculate as we speak.

No doubt, this is my favorite of all the cured salami I've made. But, even with the Grizzly, this is a labor of love. Dicing all that pork and fat by hand is a CHORE!

Yum!! What kind of casings? I just bought some beef casings to try and make some bigger salamis...

... and I can't disagree on the labor of cutting up all the meat by hand...

... is there such thing as a meat cuber? (kidding..)

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interesting notes on blood pressure etc.  mine went down after working on the book, both bp and cholesterol.  i think that if we eat natural foods our body helps us to regulate what we need and what we don't.  we're super sensitive to salt concentration when it's not in soda and lean cuisines, so when we gorge on bacon, we eat less salt the next day.  cholesterol, i don't know.  i just suspect pork fat isn't as bad as other animal fats, especially when combined with a diet low in processed food.

Huh - that is 3 of you. I guess I should examine other parts of my diet - I assumed it was the salt pork and fat... though I am not one to eat alot of processed foods, I will eat my fair share from time to time.


Edited by mdbasile (log)

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Huh - that is 3 of you. I guess I should examine other parts of my diet - I assumed it was the salt pork and fat... though I am not one to eat alot of processed foods, I will eat my fair share from time to time.

Beef middles, Mark.

As Michael mentioned...the processed foods might be the kicker. I pretty much do not eat ANY processed foods. I realize that some slip in on a rare occasion. But I'm pretty hard on myself about that.

Edited to add:

Wow, Charcuterie as health food! Who'd a thunk it!


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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Huh - that is 3 of you. I guess I should examine other parts of my diet - I assumed it was the salt pork and fat... though I am not one to eat alot of processed foods, I will eat my fair share from time to time.

Beef middles, Mark.

As Michael mentioned...the processed foods might be the kicker. I pretty much do not eat ANY processed foods. I realize that some slip in on a rare occasion. But I'm pretty hard on myself about that.

Edited to add:

Wow, Charcuterie as health food! Who'd a thunk it!

How many links from the 13 lbs? - photos to come I assume...

I will obviously need to work on the purity of my foods...

I raise a glass to the new health food!!

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I would like to have your thoughts on the pros and cons of injecting brine in larger pieces of meats, like turkey breasts and ham. There is no mention of injecting brine in 'Charcuterie'. Does it change the texture of the finished product?

At first glance, it seems that it would be a good technique.

Injecting brine will of course have quite an influence on brining time. Any guidelines?

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Everyone,

First off, I've got to admit that I've been lurking in this thread for quite some time and am just now posting for the first time.

My only real projects from the book so far have been bacon and fresh sausages, both of which have been fantastic revelations in home-processed porky goodness. Just recently (past week or so), I've built a small curing chamber out of a tall dorm fridge. By modifying the interior a bit, I've been able to stabilize the temperature to right at 60F, and have a remote thermo/hygro sensor in there just to keep an eye on things. This past Sunday, I rolled up and hung a pancetta, and am patiently (read: taking progress photos every 24 hours and comparing) awaiting the results.

So, here's my question. The hot-smoked items calls for pink salt (nitrite), which makes perfect sense. Salamis call for cure #2 (nitrate), which also makes sense. Now, here's where I'm confused: the pancetta (to be hung for a long period and not heated in to the unsafe food zone) uses pink salt, and the cured ham calls for no curing salt. What's the scoop?

Jmolinari and others talk about hanging pancetta for months at a time. Are you guys using the curing salt #2/nitrate as a substitution?

I just feel like I'm missing something. Maybe it's obvious, but I just can't seem to figure it out.

Thanks,

-Dan

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Dan, welcome! Glad we enticed you over here. I can't answer you questions, but will make a request. Can you give us more details on your fridge and the modifications you made? Photos and instructions, please?


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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How many links from the 13 lbs? - photos to come I assume...

I will obviously need to work on the purity of my foods...

I raise a glass to the new health food!!

Mark, I make some pretty large sticks, about 12". I think I got 10 from this batch. I'll get a picture tomorrow when I remove them to hang.


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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Dan, welcome!  Glad we enticed you over here.

Glad to be here! I may have come to the party late, but I plan on making up for lost time...

I can't answer you questions, but will make a request.  Can you give us more details on your fridge and the modifications you made?  Photos and instructions, please?

Sure thing. Here you'll see my very sophisticated modifications of foil and masking tape (fwiw, I plan on upgrading to duct tape soonly).

Bascially, I just wanted to box in the coil with the fridge's temp sensor... It was working a bit too well and staying too warm, so I up'd the fridge's setting from the absolute lowest, to just a bit higher.

gallery_27805_3593_14745.jpg

Cheers,

-Dan

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Ok, yet another reason I should keep my copy of On Food and Cooking on hand at all times. Harold McGee has a nice sidebar (page 174) on the "Enigma of Hams Cured Without Nitrite". To summarize, Parma and San Daniele hams are cured without nitrate or nitrite, and aquire their rosy color from some "ripening bacteria". He goes on to remark that the lack of protection afforded to the pork fat due to the absense of nitrite may actually increase the delicious hammy nature of the prosciutto.

Apparently French and Spanish hams do have nitrites.

I tell you, I do not know what I'd do without this book.

So, with that said, who around here is using nitrates and who's isn't?

Cheers,

-Dan

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ron, the reason for pink salt in smoked salmon is to prevent botulism, which can grow on the outside of the salmon in a smokey warm environment.  it doesn't have anything to do with dryness.  i'll bet that comes from curing a really good lean wild fish--which requires considerably less time on the cure than grocery store salmon.  because it doesn't affect flavor much, i'd leave the pink salt but cut down on the cure time.

Michael - do you think there is a risk of botulism in a cold smoke of 2 hours w/out the sodium Nitrate?


Edited by mdbasile (log)

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depends on what's being smoked. if the spores are there, then there could be trouble. are they likely to be there? probably not but you never know. there are a lot of spores in the ground, so if it's cured with a veg or garlic, there might be.

re nitrites and nitrates.

you must use sodium nitrate (DQ #2) for dry cured sausages; this has nitrite and nitrate, which is like time released nitrite. the spores can be ground into the interior of the sausage.

use sodium nitrite (DQ #1), pink salt, for anything that's going to be smoked, or anything that you want a cured effect. but that's not going to be hung at room temp for a weeks.

you don't need pink salt for whole muscles that are hung to dry, eg ham, because there is no risk of botulism (spore can't be inside the muscle; and outside the bacteria can't grow because of oxygen).

A pancetta hung for two weeks is probably fine with pink salt, one because the pink salt prevents the bacteria and second, it's usually cooked till it's very hot, which would disable the toxin. if you were hanging it for a long time, however, i would use DQ #2 as a precaution.

i'm going to talk to brian about this issue, because no recipes or methods i know of call for sodium nitrate in pancetta cure.

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How many links from the 13 lbs? - photos to come I assume...

I will obviously need to work on the purity of my foods...

I raise a glass to the new health food!!

Here is the sopressata, tied, weighed and ready to hang. Pre hang wt is 15 lbs 15.5 oz.

gallery_16509_1680_218303.jpg


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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My only real complaint is, in spite of what the pics show, that the fish was a bit drier than I am used to.  Lox, as I know it, is much oilier.  I attribute this to the use of curing salt but I'm not sure that's accurate.  What I do know is that the fish's texture changed very little after it had been smoked.  After 36 hours of curing, it was much stiffer than I am used to when I make gravlax, which contains only Kosher salt.  Next time out, I will almost certainly omit the pink salt and see how it affects the final product.

I have not used the curing salt and the mosture seems fine. I have found that whenever I make the gravelox - a couple of days in the fridge - esp in a food saver package - helps the texture immensely - frankly seems to get better after a week or two. The dry edge and the more wet middle seem to have a little osmosis going on...

...

ron, the reason for pink salt in smoked salmon is to prevent botulism, which can grow on the outside of the salmon in a smokey warm environment.  it doesn't have anything to do with dryness.  i'll bet that comes from curing a really good lean wild fish--which requires considerably less time on the cure than grocery store salmon.  because it doesn't affect flavor much, i'd leave the pink salt but cut down on the cure time.

While I understand and appreciate the wish of the book to emphasise the association between cured gravadlax and cured & smoked salmon, the recipe on pages 96/97 (in proposing 36 hours dry salt curing, 4/24 hours drying and 6 hours of cold smoke), is giving an unusually heavy cure and a somewhat light smoke.

In the UK (at the very least) the practice is a very much lighter cure and rather more smoke.

And the smoke would be Oak, not fruit. (Though maybe old Oak from Whisky barrels.)

More typical of the British product would be an overnight dry cure and then rinse, or just 3 hours (maybe as little as 1 hour) in an 80% of saturated brine, followed by 24 hours of *hanging* to drip dry to a good pellicle for smoke adhesion, followed by 12 hours or more (up to 4 days!) of cold smoke - and then importantly allowing rest time (24 hours minimum) after smoking to allow the smoke flavour to permeate the fish. Of course the cold smoking doesn't have to be continuous, and the fish may be rested (helping the deep permeation of the flavour) when smoking isn't convenient.

While I do appreciate that it is very much a matter of taste, the most prestigious smokers, Forman & Field, use their "London Cure" of 12 hours on salt and (I think) 12 hours of thin smoke to produce the product sold in Fortnums and exported to the USA.

Keith Erlandson (Home Smoking and Curing - an established classic) prefers brining and reduces the brine time from 3 hours for poorer quality (lower fat) fish.

However we also have to deal with the fact that Pacific "salmon' are actually somewhat different fish, especially as compared to the Atlantic Salmon.

Its not just wild vs farmed, its actually a matter of zoologically different fish species.

Kate Walker of Innes Walker, a manufacturer of commercial smokehouses, writes in her Practical Food Smoking (at page 17) that because of botulism fears, the sale of cold-smoked Oncorhynchus Pacific salmon ("sockeye, coho,, chinook, chum, humpbach") is "prevented" in the USA. It seems that these fish are more susceptible than the Atlantic salmon - I don't believe its only a risk of it picking it up by cross-contamination. It seems that with the Pacific fish, there is a risk that they actually contain Botulinum.

Hence it would seem that nitrite or nitrate is especially important for *Pacific* salmon.

Both Walker and Erlandson use a touch of saltpetre in their pre-smoking cures. I have to say that Cure No 1 (using Nitrite) should be even better than saltpetre, not requiring bacterial activation. Saltpetre is the traditional curing salt, Nitrite a relatively modern variation - its used in even tinier quantities and is more dangerous (hence its available only diluted into mixed cures). However, Nitrite does have a shorter shelf life, oxidising to nitrate (saltpetre) and hence losing its potency.

However, I do wonder if the quantity of Nitrite being used in the book isn't maybe a little high.

6 g of pink salt at 6.25% Nitrite means 0.375g of Nitrite total. As compared to 450g of Salmon that is 833ppm. For dry cured ham, the US FSIS limit is 625ppm... 4g would give 555ppm.


"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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re nitrites and nitrates.

...

i'm going to talk to brian about this issue, because no recipes or methods i know of call for sodium nitrate in pancetta cure.

The USA deprecates the use of Nitrates (saltpetre) in items (like bacon) to be cooked at high temperature (like frying).

The use of Nitrite (and ascorbate accelerator) has been found to reduce the formation of nitrosamines on such high heating.

Hence I'm sure the US practice would be to use Nitrite, not Nitrate, for Pancetta.

However, Nitrate use is permissable in Europe, where the whole nitrosamine (carcinogenicity) question is seen as being imperfectly understood. Saltpetre has been used for hundreds, maybe thousands, of years - and at much higher levels than currently - without obvious epidemiological effect.

And nitrosamines, IIRC, are formed in the gut on the digestion of "health food" spinach...

The general point about using nitrate/saltpetre is to remember that it can't start "curing" until it has been first broken down by bacteria - into nitrite.

That first step is achieved only by bacteria - accelerators work *with* nitrite, but they don't help you get the first step, *to* nitrite.

Because of relying on bacterial action, saltpetre curing is seen as 'unreliable' or as the book says "inconsistent" in this age of refrigeration. Personally, I do a little room temperature "incubation" before curing with saltpetre.

Michael - For Charcuterie v1.1, could the bit about Cure No2 on pages 38 and 177 be tweaked to make clear that No2 *contains* some (4%) Nitrate (as well as 6.25% Nitrite) - its not ideally clear to say that Nitrate is "sold as" Cure No 2... or "sold under the brand names {of No 2}".

Saltpetre and Cure No2 are to be used in very different proportions, as I'm sure you well know, they are definitely not interchangeable.

Hey, minimally you might just change the "as" to "in"... :cool:


Edited by dougal (log)

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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... I do wonder if the quantity of Nitrite being used in the book {for smoked salmon} isn't maybe a little high.

6 g of pink salt at 6.25% Nitrite means 0.375g of Nitrite total. As compared to 450g of Salmon that is 833ppm. For dry cured ham, the US FSIS limit is 625ppm... 4g would give 555ppm.

I agree that 6g is high. 28g/1oz of pink salt is used to cure 25lbs of meat, so for 1lb you should be using somewhere around 1.1-1.5g of pink salt.

Its not as simple as "1 oz is used to cure 25 lbs of meat".

There are different levels permitted for different cures and products.

The 625ppm that I quoted is the highest Nitrite level permitted, however that maximum limit is specified for the most analogous process - dry curing of meat. Its just 200ppm for injection or immersion cured meat...

Now, as to whether it needs to be anywhere near the maximum permitted level - well, that's another question entirely...


"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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