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jmolinari

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

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BRM   

I am having quite good results with a small ultrasonic humidifier I purchased on Amazon and a digital timer. I put the humidifier inside and old fridge and program the timer to run the humidifier for 5 minutes every hour. Seems to work great. I will probably pick up a humidistat this winter. Anyone have suggestions on where to find one?

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I was able to get some "salt cure" from my hungarian sausage/charcuterie shop. I had asked for "pink salt", i.e "the special salt you mix in with your cure" as I described it, and the lady there gave me this "salt cure" as she called it, which looks ever so slightly wet, but is not pin (more like very light yellow)k. I asked her about this and she told me it's the same thing, just that they'd added a bit of brown sugar in it already (not sure if this was supposed to explain why the pink would have disappeared, or whether it's just a mention of an additional ingredient).

The lady who gave me this seemed to know what she was talking about and she only handed me the salt after going to the backroom, making a phonecall, and going back to the backroom. I paid CAN$2.50 for 1/2 pound.

My question is: can pink salt not be pink? If not, what do you think this is?

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I know morton's tenderquick is not pink, but it could be called a type of "curing salt"...

Personally i would rather be safe than sorry and i'd want to be sure i know what i'm adding to my cured meats.

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joesan   

Hi Alex - the salt I use in the UK is not pink. Our equivalent is called Cure No.2 and it is white - the addition of some raw sugar would make it yellowish. I am not sure but I think the pink colouring is added to differentiate it from other salts (as it would be harmful in high doses if mistaken for ordinary salt).

Just ask them what the composition is - you are looking for 6.25% sodium nitrite .


Edited by joesan (log)

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joesan   

Actually visiting this thread reminded me that I have a couple of questions -

1) I believe that Smoked Salmon stateside is different to what we typically have in the UK. Does anyone have any pointers as to how to get a Scottish style smoked salmon. This a pretty pure flavour with a strong Oak smoke.

2) I am the proud owner of a new Bradley. How long do I need to smoke 3kg of salmon for to get the above mentioned strong flavour. The book says many hours but accepted wisdom seems to be that the Bradley smokes much quicker.

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The problem with using "curing salt with sugar added" is that you know have no idea of the % of nitrates or nitrites in it, which means you risk over or under curing your foods.

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Thanks for the heads up. When I tasted it, I did not taste any sugar really, so I'mg guessing the amount added is minimal. It did taste very salty and, without being able to describe it correctly, what I would have imagined pink salt to taste like (salty with a chemical cure feel to it, sort of like what raw bacon can smell like).

I'm preparing bacon with it, so I'm guessing the danger will be minimal and I will be able to see whether it has that distinct "cured'" taste.

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dougal   
Hi Alex - the salt I use in the UK is not pink. Our equivalent is called Cure No.2
NOooo! Ruhlman uses the shorthand "pink salt" to mean 'ordinary salt with 1/16 th {6.25%} Sodium NitrIte'.

The UK equivalent to Ruhlman's "pink salt" is therefore Cure No 1 (aka Prague Powder No 1).

Cure No 2 (aka Prague Powder No 2) has got additional NitrAte in the mix, as well as the NitrIte.

The pink colouring seems to be a USA thing.

... and it is white - the addition of some raw sugar would make it yellowish. I am not sure but I think the pink colouring is added to differentiate it from other salts (as it would be harmful in high doses if mistaken for ordinary salt).

Just ask them what the composition is  - you are looking for 6.25% sodium nitrite .

6.25% NitrIte bulked up with plain salt is No 1 !!

"Curing salt" is a term wide open to aabuse and innocent misunderstanding.

I've even come across it being used to refer to 'pure' ordinary salt, thus suitable for use in curing.

It is also applied to readymix cures with nitrite and/or nitrate, sugar and flavourings added...

Beware and be careful. You want to know the composition; you don't want secret ingredients.

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dougal   
... I believe that Smoked Salmon stateside is different to what we typically have in the UK. Does anyone have any pointers as to how to get a Scottish style smoked salmon. This a pretty pure flavour with a strong Oak smoke.

2) I am the proud owner of a new Bradley. ..

Michael Ruhlman's recipe (p96/7 in my first edition) is fairly close.

Perhaps he's rather heavy on the cure (and maybe its additional flavourings) and light on the smoke...

I'd suggest rather less curing time (than the 36 hours suggested), and maybe longer in rather thin smoke.

Step 3 is important to create a sticky "pellicle" on the surface to hold the smoke.

Be sure you are using Atlantic rather than Pacific salmon - the results of curing and smoking emphasise the difference, IMHO.

Strangely enough, classic British "smoked salmon" is given a "London cure"... Forman's, who supply Fortnum & Mason, cure with pure unflavoured salt. And smoke lightly for 8 to 10 hours over oak (with a significant weight loss - intensifying the flavour!)

The Bradley is by design a hot smoker. For British cold smoked salmon, you need to cool the smoke, certainly below 20C, before it gets near the fish.

The web has various suggestions for using a cardboard box as a chamber to give increased residence (cooling) time between the bradley smoke generator and the food compartment. A £5 piece of aluminium tumble-dryer exhaust ducting from B&Q should lose the heat quite well on a cool day. (But its not rugged stuff, and won't last forever.) Remember also that it is temperature difference that 'draws' the smoke into and through the food chamber.

Being a hot smoker design, the Bradley seems to produce lots of smoke (I don't have one, just going by pictures). Cold smoking is more usually done with a very much thinner, almost wispy, smoke. Hence the Bradley would give an accelerated, intense smoking. You may find it convenient to interrupt the Bradley to give the fish a rest between discs, so that less total smoke can have longer to penetrate the fish...

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Alex: nitrates take time to break down into nitrites and other components and are used in long cured. How long is long? I don't know, i'm not a chemist. I don't think you're supposed to eat foods with nitrAtes. I don't know the effects or the consequences though.

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dougal   
What would the harm be in having some nitrates in there?

That's a tricky and contentious question!

Lets just start by saying: it ain't the same, so its different.

The nitrate is broken down (over time) to give you more nitrite.

So the first effect is that you are putting in more than you think you are.

A second aspect concerns nitrosamines.

The FDA deprecates (doesn't seem to forbid in absolutely all circumstances) the use of nitrate in bacon.

Nitrosamine seems to be associated with residual nitrate.

Nitrate is in No2 in order to provide what Ruhlman calls "time release" nitrite. To have botulinum-zapping capability in the long term.

No 2 exists for its intended use in long air-curing of sausages, particularly those intended to be eaten raw. Salami.

My opinion, for what its worth, having started curing with Traditional saltpetre, is that, *except* for where residual nitrate would be a positive benefit, one is safer to cure with Nitrite alone.

Throughout the book under discussion in this thread, Michael Ruhlman does not use either saltpetre or No2. He is curing with NitrIte only. No NitrAte at all.

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joesan   

Hi Dougal - I stand corrected on the Pink Salt. I was going from memory - never a good thing!

Thanks for the tips on the Smoked Salmon. I'll be using Wild Scottish Salmon. Funnily enough I do normally buy my smoked salmon from Formans. It is very good but not a patch on the real hand done thing. There used to be an amazing little concern called the Old Knockelly Smokehouse on the Scottish borders and they made the most stellar smoked salmon. The flavour was amazing. Unfortunately it was just a small operation and they got overwhelmed and have now stopped doing it. A great shame.

Anyway I'll try your suggestions. The Charcuterie recipe seems to have too many things in it for my liking. I am thinking of keeping it more simple to let the fish and the smoke shine through. I am planning on cold smoking using the cardboard box and dryer hose method that I've seen. I am wanting a strong smoke with an intense flavour. I rather like the fish to be more chewy (i.e. with the moisture loss you mention) as that is the way I've had it in Scotland.

Web opinion seems to be that an hour or two in the Bradley equates to 6-8 on other smoking setups but I haven't tried the Bradley yet so it is hard to judge.

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dougal   

Joesan - I'm sure you'll honour a fine fish.

Would it be worthwhile to do a trial or two with small bits of lesser fish?

The great thing with doing these things oneself is that one can adjust towards the result that provides maximum personal satisfaction.

One of the things about cold smoke is that it affords the possibility of an intermittent smoking.

Erlandson suggests one cuts off the odd slice of ham every few days during wispy cold smoking, just to see how its going... :biggrin:

The smoke needs to be given a bit of time to permeate the flesh, so maybe taste it the day after giving it a bit of smoke, and decide whether, for your taste, it could do with a bit more...

I'm not completely convinced that a quick intense blast of smoke can be truly equivalent to a longer milder exposure - but I'll look forward (enviously) to hearing of your results.

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I think that type of wood smoke is also a factor with fish. A short blast of hickory would be a lot stronger than a longer apple smoke, at least in my Bradley.

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This weekend I started two bacons: one from a small cut of pork belly (1lb, or so) as an experiment, and another from a 2.2lb piece of lamb belly, both with meat from Cappuccio's in the Italian Market. I can't remember the spices on the pork -- it may have been just the basic cure and some black pepper and garlic. The lamb's cure is the basic cure, plus rosemary, lemon zest, garlic, black pepper, and honey.

The lamb, which the kind old gentleman called "breast" rather than belly, had ribs still attached. Since I intend to smoke it, I figure I can pull those out after hot-smoking. Will leaving the bones in interfere with the curing process? Also, any thoughts on the smoking of the lamb? I was thinking of smoking it with rosemary leaves...or will that be too resinous?

For pork belly I may switch to D'Angelo's, who charge an extra buck a pound but sell farm-raised Berkshire bellies. Cappuccio's belly (the pork, not the old man) seemed a little lean.

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qrn   
I think that type of wood smoke is also a factor with fish. A short blast of hickory would be a lot stronger than a longer apple smoke, at least in my Bradley.

In N/W US ,the wood would be alder...(apple sounds good however) Alder is a member of the Poplar,aspen,cottonwood family (I think...)

Its all I use on Salmon, mostly cause I build furniture, etc out of it ,and have tons of it for free...

Bud

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kretch   

Hi, two questions, and I hope the first isn't forum-inappropriate, nor the latter thread-inappropriate:

1) I've been asking in the Southeast forum if anyone knows where to find pink/curing salt in Atlanta, GA, to no real avail. Anyone in this discussion have any ideas? I want to get started on a corned beef ASAP and don't have time to wait for a mail delivery.

2) Adellis and Kelly's Complete Meat Cookbook has a recipe for corned beef that doesn't use any curing salt, just a pickling brine. Anyone have any thoughts on this approach/their recipe? Most other recipes I've come across call for the standard cure.

Thanks for any help, and apologies if this post is inappropriate to the discussion.

Tom

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Tom, you can find morton's tenderquick at Supertarget. At least the one at Perimeter has it. That would be appropriate for corned beef.

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kretch   
Tom, you can find morton's tenderquick at Supertarget. At least the one at Perimeter has it. That would be appropriate for corned beef.

Wonderful. Thank you very, very much.

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dougal   
I think that type of wood smoke is also a factor with fish. A short blast of hickory would be a lot stronger than a longer apple smoke, at least in my Bradley.

In N/W US ,the wood would be alder...(apple sounds good however) Alder is a member of the Poplar,aspen,cottonwood family (I think...)

Its all I use on Salmon, mostly cause I build furniture, etc out of it ,and have tons of it for free...

Bud

Not to actually disagree, but aren't there two things being confused here:

- an appropriate wood for smoking salmon

and

- the relative strengths of different flavoured Bradley pucks (and their strength/time comparison with more traditional 'thin' cold smoke)

By implication, the question is also raised as to the relative 'smoke flavour intensities' (and hence timing differences) when using different woods as chips or dust, rather than as Bradley's proprietary "bisquettes". Which is something I'd be interested in learning about!

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joesan   

Dougal, Chris et al, thanks for the input. Much appreciated as ever.

I want to use oak for this one as that is traditional in scotland and Scottish Smoked Salmon is the standard for me. Would definitely be interested in trying some of the fruitwoods at a later date to see how they fare.

You're right Dougal I was wondering how intense the Bradley is versus other methods. Can anyone pass comment on this? For example some recipes (on the web not Charcuterie) say smoke for a day but cut this to 6 hours or so for the Bradley. To smoke 3kg in the Bradley what do you reckon - 3-4 hours?

The other big variable, apart from the cure ingredients and smoke time, seems to be the cure time. Charcuterie says 36 hours but other recipes have cures of only one or two hours! I am thinking 12-24 hours seems reasonable. Any thoughts?

I am willing to experiment but just thought I'd jump start things a bit by canvassing opinion here. I was hoping to get things together in time to bring some to relatives in Italy at the weekend but I don't think it is going to happen as there's not enough time in the day at the moment!

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BRM   
Hi, two questions, and I hope the first isn't forum-inappropriate, nor the latter thread-inappropriate:

1) I've been asking in the Southeast forum if anyone knows where to find pink/curing salt in Atlanta, GA, to no real avail. Anyone in this discussion have any ideas? I want to get started on a corned beef ASAP and don't have time to wait for a mail delivery.

I'd wager that a large number of us got pink salt and other supplies/ingredients from a place like Butcher Packer and not from someplace locally, no matter where "locally" is. You could probably find some in most major metro areas but it could take a lot of phone calls.

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kretch   
Tom, you can find morton's tenderquick at Supertarget. At least the one at Perimeter has it. That would be appropriate for corned beef.

Got it. Thanks a ton. Couple more questions...

1) Is one part Quick Tender equivalent to one part pink salt? (Ruhlman calls for 1 oz pink salt.)

2) Ruhlman's recipe calls for a 5 pound brisket; I've got a great looking 4 pounder on hand. Can I otherwise proceed with the recipe as written? Do I have to scale down the weight/volume of the brine and its ingredients?

Thanks.


Edited by kretch (log)

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