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

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About the use of pink salt to prevent bottulism, I'm somewhat confused about when to use it and when it is not necessary


Jeremy Behmoaras

Cornell School for Hotel Administration Class '09

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do one just with salt

Michael, that reminds me of something -- is there any reason one could not use sea salt vs Koscher? Other than maybe cost.

Thx

Mark

My take on sea salt is that you could, but it wouldn't be near as effective. I believe that the structure of kosher salt (flakes) is much more conducive to drawing liquid from the meat.


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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For many years I have been using canning and pickling salt for most uses....It is very fine, and does not have the extra stuff in it that kosher has (can't remember what it is)..I weigh for sausage and baking, etc so it is easy to use. and it is very cheap...Wonder if anyone else uses it or has any comments...

Just made a batch of Spanish chorizo for some paella today...Gonna use it fresh rather than dried...

Bud

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Just made a batch of Spanish chorizo for some paella today...Gonna use it fresh rather than dried...

Bud

Take a couple and hang them for about 2 weeks - they come out very nice. I did the Cold smoked version - hung some for 5 days and some longer.... the longer hanging ones developed a very concentrated flavor.

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salt is salt, more or less. they're mainly interchangeable but can vary widely in terms of weight per volume. if you're packing in salt, shouldn't matter the kind.

pink salt to prevent botulism: botulism bacteria grow in warm temps in an anaerobic low acid environment. if your food is spending significant time in such an environment, use pink salt.

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salt is salt, more or less.  they're mainly interchangeable but can vary widely in terms of weight per volume.  if you're packing in salt, shouldn't matter the kind.

pink salt to prevent botulism: botulism bacteria grow in warm temps in an anaerobic low acid environment.  if your food is spending significant time in such an environment, use pink salt.

Thanks for that rule of thumb


Jeremy Behmoaras

Cornell School for Hotel Administration Class '09

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Today I'm actually doing my 3rd cold-smoked salmon run. But before I get to some of the details, I'll briefly describe attempt #2, which wasn't as problem-free as my first run.

The main stumbling block was that I could not easily keep the smoking chamber under 100 F on the 2nd attempt. Apparently, my first attempt -- and the ease with which it happened -- was nothing more than random luck. For attempt #2, I again placed a couple of small burning embers atop the tinder box full of wood chips, but this time it caught quickly and burned too hot. I spritzed it with water -- trying to cool it off -- accidentally putting it out completely. From there, I had no choice but to start another chimney of lump and begin the process again. I eventually came out of it ok but instead of a 'set it and forget it' experience, I missed much of the Bears game during my frequent trips out to the smoker. I was tweaking things every 10-15 minutes for several hours.

The finished product was again, excellent. The 2nd time through I also made some adjustments to the pre-smoking steps -- the main one being the omission of pink salt. I knew, based on what Michael posted upthread that there was some risk in this method. Still, I figured that salt + smoke + refrigeration would mitigate the risk. Again, I was using a relatively lean piece of wild coho and, as Michael suggested, I reduced the curing time from 36 hours to 24. Texture-wise, this helped me get closer to the final product I had visualized making. It was softer and more closely resembled the commercially-made lox which I was trying to duplicate. The main visual difference in this case was the color of the fish, which, without the addition of pink salt, did not remain as bright orange as it was on attempt #1. No worries though; the final product was still of acceptable color and was absolutely delicious.

Today, I decided to change a few more of the variables. Instead of wild coho, I started with a 4.5# piece of wild king Salmon. Instead of a dry cure, I decided to brine the fish in the following solution:

1 gallon water

1 pound kosher salt

1 cup dark molasses

1/4 tsp pink salt

because it was such a large piece of fish, I brined it for about 20 hours (for a smaller piece I would have only brined it for 12 or so). Instead of 24 hours of drying, I let it dry for only 12 hours. But the main thing I did differently was set up a crazy, cold-smoking rig, which seems to be working perfectly at the moment. . .

gallery_3085_3591_67811.jpg

Weber kettle was started with a half chimney of lump charcoal. Once dumped, I topped the burning pile off with big chunks of apple and cherry wood.

gallery_3085_3591_98101.jpg

The dampers are adjusted to maintain at about 225 F.

gallery_3085_3591_22734.jpg

A better look at the whole contraption. The aluminum dryer-duct is actually held in place with very thin wire. I used "Gorilla" tape over the wire to hold things in place and seal a few leaks.

gallery_3085_3591_101786.jpg

Almost no problem in conveying the smoke through the duct to the smoking chamber. I did place a fan just outside the top damper, which is helping to move the smoke through the smoking chamber

gallery_3085_3591_23340.jpg

Wild King Salmon smoking away. You can see the smoke entering the smoking chamber through the damper on the left side of the frame. Even now, after nearly 3 hours in the smoke, it's still cold to the touch.

I'll report back later after the smoking stage is completed. I'm actually not sure how long I'll let it smoke. I'll just play it by ear.

=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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Looks like a great setup Ronnie. I'm waiting another month or so until the weather is cooler here in Atlanta to use a setup i have similar to yours. Otherwise just based on ambient temp, i'll be above 80!

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I had this idea for cold smoking in a set up similar to yours ronnie but i though of coiling the duct into a bucket filled with water to cool the smoke .... I wonder if that would make a difference ... although you may need to brush some lacquer or something on the coiled duct so that it doesnt rust.

On another note, I finally started curing my duck today. I covered one breast with a thin coating of hoisin sauce; another with a mixture of ground clove, ginger, and garlic; another with a half and half mixture of maple syrup and dark brown sugar, and finally the last one i drizzled over with some truffle oil and rubbed it in, cant wait to see how they come out tomorrow after curing for 24 hours, then i'll wrap em up and let them hang for a week.


Edited by jbehmoaras (log)

Jeremy Behmoaras

Cornell School for Hotel Administration Class '09

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I had this idea for cold smoking in a set up similar to yours ronnie but i though of coiling the duct into a bucket filled with water to cool the smoke .... I wonder if that would make a difference ... although you may need to brush some lacquer or something on the coiled duct so that it doesnt rust.

Separation between firebox and smokehouse is clearly the way to go for small-scale cold smoking.

The Aluminium ducting is cheap, but not very robust. Stainless steel chimney flue liner would be much better, but is *very* much more expensive! (Both of them are going to be themselves untroubled by rust.)

The duct might be cooled (if needed) by evaporation, by wrapping it in some old cloth and wetting the cloth...


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

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Hi,

About 15 years ago I read a very simple cold smoking recipe in Jacques Pepin’s book, “Techniques”. Jacques used wood chips in a flower pot, heated with an electric charcoal starter makig a very small fire with restricted air to increase the smoke. The smoke ran through a downspout into an old refrigerator containing the salmon. The salmon smokes within 5 degrees of the ambient temperature, therefore you should smoke when the outside temperature is below 80 degrees.

I have adapted Jacques recipe using inexpensive materials with wonderful success. The salmon has a wonderful smoke flavor and a firm texture that allows you to cut paper thin slices without flaking or tearing.

MATERIALS: (Total cost $40 if new)

Clean plastic garbage can with tight lid

and hole cut in lower side

(Portable and cheaper than a refrigerator)

Cooling rack that fits in the top of can

Electric charcoal starter -

liiks like an immersion heater ($15)

Heating duct from can to smoke source($5)

Medium size clay flower pot

Aluminum foil seals flower pot to duct

Aluminized heat proof tape seals duct ($5)

About 3 cups wood chips (alder, white oak)

smoker1.jpg

SALMON CURE: Dry brine salmon for 24 to 30 hours.

Two fillets of salmon, about 5 pounds

Evenly spread on brining mix:

2/3 cup kosher salt

¼ cup sugar

Wrap in Saran wrap.

Wrap in aluminum foil.

Refrigerate 24 to 30 hours, turning often.

Rinse the fillets and dry before smoking.

SMOKING SETUP:

Line flower pot with foil.

Place the charcoal starter in flowerpot.

Add three cups of wood chips.

Stick the duct into hole in the can.

Tape the duct to the can to seal the seams.

Position the flower pot below the duct.

Use foil to seal the flower pot to duct.

Tape the foil to the flower pot and duct

using the heat proof tape.

(Sealing all seams keeps out oxygen

preventing fire and flames.)

Place the rack in the garbage can.

Place fillets on the rack.

Place the lid on the can.

smoker2.jpg

SMOKING PROCEDURE:

Plug in the charcoal starter for five

minutes and unplug.

After 2 minutes smoke should be flowing.

Seal up any leaks with heat proof tape.

Wait one hour.

Plug in the charcoal starter for five

minutes and unplug.

Wait one hour.

Plug in the charcoal starter for five

minutes and unplug.

If smoke doesn’t flow and duct gets hot,

you are out of chips.

Unplug, add more wood chips, reseal and

plug in for 5 minutes.

Wait one hour.

Remove salmon.

Rub salmon with a little vegetable oil

Wrap in saran and refrigerate one day.

Note: If heat build up from the sun is a problem, drape the can with cold wet towels.

ENJOY!

Tim


Edited by tim (log)

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Thanks, Tim -- and everyone else -- for the input. I let the salmon smoke for about 8 hours, then wrapped it and put it in the fridge. I'll probably taste it sometime this morning.

I have almost no hope that my set-up will endure over the long haul but it was cheap, so if I can get a few uses out of that length of duct, it'll have been worth it.

I'm still looking for a cold-smoking routine that I can easily use, even in the dead of winter. I'm not sure the hot-plate method will fit that bill but I'm definitely going to keep it in mind.

=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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The results are in and I'm very pleased with them. This attempt was definitely the most successful of the 3. I like the brine (described above) very much and can't taste a whole lot of difference in the finished product between it and a more aggressively-seasoned dry cure. I think that salt + smoke tends to trump just about any other flavor element. So, while the other elements in previous runs are clearly there (dill, bay, white pepper, etc.), they are not really missed here. I also love the texture of this fish. Even after brining for 20 hours and smoking for 8 hours, it's still quite soft and completely pliable . . .

gallery_3085_3591_214698.jpg

The finished wild King fillet. I believe that the greater thickness in this piece of fish, relative to the Coho, made a big difference in the final product.

gallery_3085_3591_47216.jpg

Interior flesh, which is oily and supple. This tasted absolutely terrific and pretty much hit the mark I was seeking.

I'm not sure I could really improve upon this recipe and method. It's fairly smokey but not overly so. It's salty but only as much as you'd expect it to be. The texture and the color are just about perfect and by including the small amount of pink salt, I believe I've guarded adequately against botulism.

My wife and I throw a big holiday open house every year and one of the items we always serve is lox. I now know that I will be making my own for this year's installment and it's a great feeling. We also serve rumaki, for which I'll be making my own bacon and jambalaya for which I'll be making my own andouille sausage and tasso. I'm absolutely loving my Charcuterie self sufficiency.

=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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gallery_3085_3591_101786.jpg

Almost no problem in conveying the smoke through the duct to the smoking chamber.  I did place a fan just outside the top damper, which is helping to move the smoke through the smoking chamber

the fan was a great idea.


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you're an inspiration, ron

:blush: No, Michael, you're the inspiration. :smile:

ron, looks awesome. So it is pretty much like you'd get at a good jewish deli?

Yeah, pretty much. It's still a bit drier in texture but at this point, I'm actually considering that a positive -- in the same way I consider it a positive that my bacon doesn't curl up in the pan when I cook it, like the commercial stuff does.

the fan was a great idea.

Yeah, I really should thank the guy who suggested it :wink::biggrin:

=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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Nice looking salmon Ron. How long did you let the salmon sit after brining and before smoking?

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Nice looking salmon Ron. How long did you let the salmon sit after brining and before smoking?

It ended up being about 12 hours and the interval worked out perfectly because that's how much time was left between the end of the brining and my desired start time on the smoking.

But, on the previous attempt I had extra time, so I removed the fish from the cure, rinsed it thoroughly, patted it dry and then kept it wrapped in plastic wrap in the fridge until I was ready to dry it. That also worked out very well.

The thing is, with cold-smoked fish, I've come to believe that 12 hours is enough drying time because it tends to dry faster than say, pork. Additionally, the target texture is not quite the same as it is with pork -- I was seeking a softer and oilier result.

On my first attempt with cold-smoked salmon, I let the fish dry for 24 hours and the pellicle was a bit too thick, relative to the overall thickness of the fish. OTOH, drying for 12 hours, still allows a pellicle to develop but it ends up being a smaller proportion of the overall fillet. I suppose this ultimately comes down to preference but with the cold-smoked salmon I sought to re-create, the harder, dryer exterior is the least desirable part of the final product.

FWIW, I've also read of at least one fan-assisted method whereby a functional pellicle can be developed on fish in about 3 hours. I've yet to give that method a try.

=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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Hey guys I was wondering if I could pass along a summary of my progress with the duck prosciutto and get some info regarding the safety of the meat.

After curing each breast in salt in the fridge of a little under 34 deg F i wrapped them in cheesecloth and am hanging them in a mini fridge kept at 55 deg and a humidity of around 40 to 50.

I was also wondering if any of my additions to the meat could cause botulism such as hoisin sauce to one duck, truffle oil to another, a spice rub to another, and maple syrup and dark brown sugar to another? Keeping in mind all of these flavorings were added before they were covered in salt and the ones with oil and spices were reapplied before wrapping in cheesecloth


Jeremy Behmoaras

Cornell School for Hotel Administration Class '09

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Greetings, everyone. Lots to report on. My "coppa" finished drying a couple weeks ago and the bone-in lamb prosciutto just finished. I use quotations on "coppa" because while I did use whole muscle from the shoulder, I don't think it was the actual coppa, nor did I stuff it into casings. But it is delicious. The lamb prosciutto is also quite tasty, although I decided to trim as much of the remaining exterior fat, as it was just a bit too strong for my tastes. I promise to post pictures when my wife returns with the camera.

I also did a great canadian bacon in the stovetop smoker, which produced surprisingly good results. I think the key was to really let if form a good pellicle for the smoke to adhere to, since it spent a shorter amount of time with the smoke than it would have in a real smoker. Still, with only about 45 minutes worth of smoke, it was surprisingly smoky.

Finally, I just finished putting out some bratwurst, polish, and tuscan salame. I do have a question about the latter. It's been incubating for a couple of hours now and is a tan/brown color. Is this normal? I guess I was expecting it to stay pink/reddish. Or will it turn reddish once the nitrates turn into nitrites? The good news is that I can definitely smell the bacteria doing their business. So cool! I'm also excited because a friend of mine just finished her PhD in something biological and bequeathed to me her unused pH meter.

-Rob

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Oh, nevermind! I got home this evening (about 7 hours later) and the little guys had taken on a lovely deep red color. Pretty cool! Anyone know what's going on behind the scenes that causes that?

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So, I've been munching on the first of my dry-cured salamis, the basic tuscan sausage from the book. I'm definitely pleased with both the texture and taste, although I may try the alternative starter culture from Butcher-Packer next time to get a slightly less sour taste.

gallery_27805_3593_8116.jpg

I am a bit worried about the chorizo I have hanging, as I put it up at the same time as the tuscan and it's not near as dry. I made them the same day, packed them in to the same size casings, and hung them up side-by-side. Any idea why the tuscan would dry more quickly than the chorizo? Should I be concerned?

Also, it looks like I'm going to be getting a slaughtered goat in the next week or two (friends of mine are starting a goat cheese operation and are sending some of the boys to the slaughter house). Anyone ever tried/made/heard of goat salami? Any recipes or advice?

Thanks,

-Dan

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Dan, that's a beautiful shot. It looks delicious.

I can't advise on goat but it sounds great. I hope someone here has some experience in that area, which they can share.

=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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