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jmolinari

Curing and Cooking with Ruhlman & Polcyn's "Charcuterie" (Part 5)

538 posts in this topic

Does anybody have a recommendation for a good grinder available in the UK? Preferably one that you have personal experience of.

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Does anybody have a recommendation for a good grinder available in the UK? Preferably one that you have personal experience of.

Nothing on that one :sad: ... oh well here's another question -

Can I cure my pork belly (for Pancetta) in a vacuum bag? If so do I need to leave some air in there and can I leave it in the curing liquid for the full two weeks it is curing?

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Hey folks:

I've read the 1st chapter of Charcuterie and will be buying my belly tomorrow for bacon. However, there is one thing I haven't seen anywhere in the book.

Does anyone have a good Hot Link sausage recipe? Dad used to take me to the Home of Good BBQ in Seattle as kid. Sadly, the owner, Rev. and my dad have both passed on. The kids running the show now seem to have lost something in the translation. But I still have fond memories of bbq'd hot link and white bread sandwiches, potatoe salad and a icy cold grape soda. Oh, and topped off by a slice of sweet potatoe pie! Really good times. Anyway, I would like to take a shot at personal hot links. The store bought brands don't quite measure up. Thanks all.

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I got this recipe from a sausage mailing list. They were good, but so blazingly hot that i couldn't eat much more than 1/2 in a sitting. IT is pretty famous on the web, as Bigwheel's hotlinks.

Give it a try.

6-7 lbs. Boston Butt

1 bottle beer (a dark ale is best)

2 T. coarse ground black pepper

2 T. crushed red pepper

2 T. Cayenne

2 T. Hungarian Paprika

3 T. Morton's Tender Quick

2 T. Whole Mustard Seeds

1/4 cup minced fresh garlic

1 T. granulated garlic

1 T. MSG

1 t. ground bay leaves

1 t. whole anise seeds

1 t. coriander

1 t. ground thyme

Mix all the spices, cure, and garlic into the beer and place in refrigerator

while you cut up the meat to fit in the grinder. Pour the spiced water over

the meat and mix well. Run meat and spice mixture through the fine plate and

mix again. Stuff into medium hog casings. Smoke or slow grill till they are

done.

jason

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Does anybody have a recommendation for a good grinder available in the UK? Preferably one that you have personal experience of.

Nothing on that one :sad: ... oh well here's another question -

Can I cure my pork belly (for Pancetta) in a vacuum bag? If so do I need to leave some air in there and can I leave it in the curing liquid for the full two weeks it is curing?

1/ I have a mincer from Lidl. It was cheap. Cheaper than the attachment for the Kenwood. On/Off not variable speed (but with reverse!) Claimed 550w motor. Doesn't handle nasty bits. But it minces. Overall probably no worse than many at twice the price. And it has a 3 year warranty. IMHO its too damn hard (for my skills) to use such a device as a stuffer. Haven't tried extruding pastry for biscuits or the kibbeh/kubbe extruder. Check quickly if you want one though - this year's offering was a week or more back (my branch had a couple left last time I looked).

2/ Vacuum curing. Said to speed up curing, ask a sous-vide person why (start by asking them about marinating...) For pancetta, it might help with the problem of achieving a perfect roll - and curing to the centre (if its going to go mouldy, that's where the problem will come). For that, I'd start the cure (so there was some exuded juice), then try and seal it, so that the vacuum squished the brine into any voids (rather than letting the juices near the seal).

The essence of Pancetta being that it is dried, you should still be hanging it for a fortnight after it comes out of the bag. As to whether it needs the full seven (or nine) days in the cure as the book suggests - I'm not qualified to say.

Ziploc-type bags are convenient because they shouldn't leak - yet you can get in to poke the stuff, add extras, etc. Some people even reuse them. I'd like a source for larger sizes than I can find in the local shops.


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

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Ok, I bough the book and am getting excited about this. But before I start investing some relatively serious dough (I'm thinking of getting a small refrigerated wine cellar to hang my product ---btw, will this work?), I'd like to know, seriously, how many of you consider that what you've produced is superior or at least equal to good, store-bought product (and I'm excluding here bacon, sausages and smoked salmon, which I know is probably superior... I'm particularly interested in pepperone, saucisson sec, etc.).

Thanks!

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Alex - I can't speak to the quality of the salamis etc. as I am also at the planning stage for a curing chamber. I am planning on using a small fridge/freezer modified to the right temperature and rigged to inject humidity to the right level. I would think that your wine cellar idea would work but there may be more cost effective ways of doing it (e.g. Old fridge, thermoswitch, humidifier would work great). I can definitely support your theory that the other items are very good when home made. My Pancettas and Guanciales have turned out wonderfully so far. Based on the uptick in quality and flavour of the bacontype items I'd imagine that there is great scope for improving on the shop bought charcuterie. Especially since I have tasted fantastic home made items from French and Italian makers. There are also significant economies to be made as well as the ability to control the quality of everything that goes in there. For me that means traditional breed organic pig for example.

Dougal - many thanks for your input. I appreciate it. I am currently curing my pancetta in a vacuum bag and it seems to be working very well. I'd recommend it to anyone running out of fridge space as it takes a lot less room than storing your curing items in a more traditional plastic container.


Edited by joesan (log)

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Alex, a wine cellar would work, as long as you have some control over humidity levels.

As far as quality...it is generally better or on par with stuff available in the US, and far far cheaper, but not as good as stuff in Italy. If i still lived in Italy, it wouldn't even cross my mind to make my own cured meats.

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Thanks guys!

Since I live in a condo downtown, I don't have extra space to put a tricked out fridge. I was thinking that a small wine cellar would fit nicely in my kitchen.... I was thinking wine cellar because I imagine that dorm-sized fridges do not have a temperature range within the prescribed recommendations (circa 60 degreees)..am I wrong?

Re: humidity control, I was thinking of putting a pan of salt water at the bottom and a humdity reader...and opening the door if it's too humid..:P is that too amateurish to work?

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Salt water pan works, it is just slow to react to changes. It will work even to keep humidity down, not just to raise it. It absorbs excess moisture in the air if you have a saturated salt solution with extra salt in it.

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Alex,

I was thinking the same thing and a couple months ago was able to purchase a good-sized (it's about 3 1/2 feet tall) used wine fridge off of Craig's list for $100 specifically to turn into a curing chamber. Still haven't gotten it up and running for charcuterie, but it does hold temp at 55-60 degrees perfectly (been keeping beer in there as of late--don't like my beer super cold). Seemed easier to me than modifying a dorm fridge or some other to keep the proper temp.

Although keep in mind if it has a glass door (like ours do--we also have one for wine), you will need to cover it with something to keep the light out (apparently light is bad for fat). I'm planning on making a curtain, so I can pull it aside and check on things without opening the door, but I'm sure some heavy paper (like poster board) taped over the glass would work too.

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I'm always moved at how amazing the people on this forum are. Thank you so much!

After taking Anna's cue, I looked up wine cellars on craigslist and found this beaut for 225$:

GE Profile Wine Cooler

And crazily enough, the manual states that it maintains "ideal humidity levels" to store wine. My research indicates that this would be between 60 and 70%...

Is this too good to be true? Should I jump on it?

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The pan of salted water works -- see my peperone uptopic (best I ever had, btw) -- but it is also very hard to control.

Salt water pan works, it is just slow to react to changes. It will work even to keep humidity down, not just to raise it. It absorbs excess moisture in the air if you have a saturated salt solution with extra salt in it.

Its more effective if you use it as "wet salt" rather than "salt water"... :smile:


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

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Dougal, yes, which is why i said a "saturated salt solution with extra salt in it", which would leave you with wet salt :)

Alex, if it maintains those levels that would be perfect. But remember when you introduct wet meats into it, the RH % with rise, and hopefully the fridge will bring it back to 60-70. Wine bottles don't give off humidity like meat does.

I wonder how it controls humidity...i can't imagine it has a humidity generator if it is low...

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Hello everyone,

This is my first post here. Tonight I made the breakfast sausage (Da Bomb) out of Charcuterie. It represents my first attempt at sausage making. I only ran into one problem; I didn't clean every last bit of sinew, so at one point the meat smeared. I cleaned out the grinder and quickly checked the rest of the batch as it was being put through the grinder. No problems after that. After my sample taste I could only agree with it's name. It trully was da bomb. I'm excited to explore more but I need to get a suasage stuffer before I continue with sausages. I too had the idea of a wine fridge am will be getting one of those to use as a curing chamber. I took some pics on my camera phone so that I could post them here, but they really didn't turn out too well.

Can't wait for breakfast,

Allan

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Dougal, yes, which is why i said a "saturated salt solution with extra salt in it", which would leave you with wet salt :)

...

Indeed, but it would be clearer for others if we explicitly stated that the excess undissolved salt really needs to be piled up to a level above that of the liquid's surface to make this work as an effective de-humidifier.

Excess salt merely in the bottom of a dish of liquid is of little use.

The problem is that when the liquid takes in moisture from the air (de-humidifies), the surface layer becomes unsaturated and so less dense. The less dense unsaturated layer will happily float on the saturated brine - so the solution can stay stratified, even with undissolved crystals at the bottom of the dish.

Now the unsaturated surface layer would equilibrate with the air above it at a humidity higher than the 80% humidity above a saturated solution - and 80+% is not what we want!

Salt crystals at the surface keep the surface layer a saturated salt solution, and so keep the control point no higher than 80%.

So one answer is to use a big pile of wet salt, not just a solution with some excess crystals at the bottom.

This is much easier than arranging for constant stirring of the salt solution!


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

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Ok, I'm really becoming ambitious with this. I've found on craigslist another cellar, this one for 160 bottles:

Domestic CS 160

It's normally quite expensive (over 3k), but it's significantly reduced (4 years old).

I would like to use it for charcuterie, since it explicitly maintains humidity levels between 50 and 70%, but obviously, would not want to spoil the cellar for when I'll eventually want to use it to store wine.

So my question is the following: does the hanging of charcuterie to dry create a lot of strong, lingering odors? Is it likely these would stick inside the cellar forever and thus contaminate the bottles I could put in there? Or conversely, is it so faint that I could store bottles at the same time as I'm drying charcuterie?

Thanks yet again!

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No, i think you could easily clean it out, just some bleach spray and letting it air out and you SHOULD be good to go...but i don't know.

I'd also like to know how it keeps humidity levels.

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According to the Dometic website (re humidity ):

"Thanks to its original evaporator design, the Dometic Wine cellar uses a large size fin package, which prevents ice build up. The natural air circulation loads itself with condensation humidity when passing through the fins."

Does that make sense?

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Does that make sense?

The low energy cooling unit does not dry the air as much as regular refer. There are no humidity controls. The salt water plus salt still sounds like a good idea.

Paul

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Thanks Paul!

So am I to understand that their claim that:

"Dometic manufactures Wine Cellars especially designed for wine keeping. A genuine Wine Cellar must answer certain basic criteria:

Constant temperature at around 12°C

Hygrometry sustained between 50 and 70%

No vibration

Protection against light "

(link)

is semi-bogus?

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Thanks Paul!

So am I to understand that their claim that:

Hygrometry sustained between 50 and 70%

is semi-bogus?

There is no water connection ergo no way to raise humidity and no drain ergo no way to lower humidity. The cooling system does have the advantage of not drying the air by forming ice around the chiller then in the frost free cycle draining that water to a pan outside of the box. Their pan seems to be inside the box. I would use the term "salesmans puffery" to be trusted as much as a used car salesman's claim that this is the best used car ever!

Paul

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I got this recipe from a sausage mailing list. They were good, but so blazingly hot that i couldn't eat much more than 1/2 in a sitting. IT is pretty famous on the web, as Bigwheel's hotlinks.

Give it a try.

6-7 lbs. Boston Butt

1 bottle beer (a dark ale is best)

jason

Hey Jason!

Dammit, I keep trying to make this only to discover that the beer bottle is suddenly and mysteriously empty. DARN IT!

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ahahah Charles...that's why you open 2 and quickly pour 1 in:)

Alex, sounds like that fridge functions like my small dorm size fridge, which has cooling coils inside the fridge which just cool the air by conduction, but since they are inside the fridge, the humidity doesn't get pulled out of the air and condensed outside.

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