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


jmolinari
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Hi everyone,

I've got a piece of pork belly in the curing chamber right now at about 15% weight loss. When I took it out today and unwrapped it from it's cheese cloth I noticed what looked like a white mold forming but when inspecting it closer it appears to be more like a salt crust forming on some parts of the belly, more so on the underside where the ribs would have been but also just a little bit on the otherside. Anyone experience something like this? Any clue as to causes?

Thanks,

Allan

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Got a batch of sauerkraut ready and its a big improvement over my last attempt. This one was made with one large head of cabbage, a small handful of wild juniper berries, and 2 liters of brine at 35 grams/liter. Cured it in a crockpot insert with a ziplock of brine as a weight. The last batch was made with 50 g/l brine and was too salty and underdeveloped.

This kraut has a little sweetness to accompany its tang and its light enough to eat straight off, like coleslaw. Had some in pastrami reubens but here it could have been tangier.

Working a batch now at 30 g/l and monitoring its development. The acid development has been pretty rapid so far, so I feel comfortable that it will turn out at this point.

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For Christmas dinner I did the herb-brined smoked turkey breast. While it tasted OK, it did not taste like turkey! I think adding the pink salt is overkill, and just makes the turkey taste like a ham (and not even a particularly *good* ham). I have made the recipe in the past without the TCM, and it was delicious, so I guess I'll go back to that. Anyone else object to this recipe for "hamurky"?

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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  • 2 weeks later...

I still had (2) 4+Lbs pork shoulder pieces in my freezer. So I thawed one to make some new year sausage. I am a big fan of the jalepeno/jack combo, so I wanted to make a jalepeno and jalepeno-jack cheese, roasted garlic sausage. So using the general salt and pepper combo for a 5 lb batch - 1 tblsp pepper / 3 tblsp salt - I added to that my lardons Ihad in the freezer, about a lb so I had close to the 5 lb batch - give or take.

4 Lb Pork Shoulder

1 Lb lardons

1/2 cup red wine

1 tblsp fresh ground pepper

3 tblsp kosher salt

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1+1/4 cup roasted garlic

3 large jalepenos, roasted de-seeded and diced

8 ounces (about 1 cup) jalepeno-jack cheese, small dice

I was guestimating proprtions for the cheese and garlic seeing as the garlic sausage recipe only had 3 tblsp of garlic! I need much more garlic ju' :)

So I was gonna try my hand at stuffing the sausage this time around. I had already a edible collagen casing, needed no soaking. I read this thread and it seems most prefer a natural casing and now I had to see for myself why! Yikes! I was 1st of all, a one man team, so as the first mixture is going through its not really going as fast as I would have liked, so 10 minutes later and three links made, I quit stuffing these collagen casings.

So I tied two ends off with butchers twine and twisted three links out of my "run". tossed em in a warm pan and waited... they were on low and under a minute 2 of the 3 blew out a huge amount of sausage. It was actually quite freaky! But I smooshed em down for an even cooking and took em off the heat.

Yum!

Excellent heat twinge cheesy, juicy and that smooth sweet roasted garlic flavor yum!

But anyways wanted to see if anyone else had a proportion-wise recipe that used lots of cheese and or other goodies.

RAD

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Hey.

My secret santa just dropped me off a copy of this book and I was floored. Excited to say the least.

I've had problems sourcing pink salt/instacure/etc in Canada. I cannot find someone in Canada to sell it to me and my two orders from Butcher and Packer have had problems (1 got held at the border with a ridiculous amount of duties and the other just never showed up after I missed the delivery guy once).

I've been hounding various butchers in town but none of them seem to know (and some of them look at me funny). My last bet is Oyama sausages but I can never seem to get ahold of the head honcho. I'm in Vancouver, but I doubt I'll find any locally.

Any ideas? I really want to crack into this and not be hampered by lack of ingredients when choosing what to make.

edit -> Stuffer's isn't too far away, found it upthread. Ordered a batch of prague powder #1 which seems to be what I want (why the different names for everything..). I'll see when it comes in.

Edited by pickledgarlic (log)
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... I've had problems sourcing pink salt/instacure/etc in Canada.  I cannot find someone in Canada to sell it to me ...

...  Ordered a batch of prague powder #1 which seems to be what I want ...

It is exactly what Ruhlman, for simplicity, calls "pink salt" (whether its pink or not).

It should be 1/16th (ie 6.25%) nitrite.

Since you mention a stuffer, be sure to also get some No2 if you intend trying Salami-type things... :smile:

However, it might be worth mentioning that the book is sensibly structured, building technique as it progresses. Well worth reading sequentially (even if you don't intend to do things in that sequence!)

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

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... I've had problems sourcing pink salt/instacure/etc in Canada.  I cannot find someone in Canada to sell it to me ...

...  Ordered a batch of prague powder #1 which seems to be what I want ...

Yes, I've used the Prague Powder No. 1 from Stuffers to make some really excellent bacon, so it should be exactly what you're looking for.

Since you mention a stuffer, be sure to also get some No2 if you intend trying Salami-type things...  :smile:

dougal, when I first read this, I saw "N2O" (as in nitrous oxide), not "No. 2", as in Prague Powder No. 2! For a minute there, I was really confused...

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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...
Since you mention a stuffer, be sure to also get some No2 if you intend trying Salami-type things...  :smile:

dougal, when I first read this, I saw "N2O" (as in nitrous oxide), not "No. 2", as in Prague Powder No. 2! For a minute there, I was really confused...

Apologies for my inexact typing!

Yes, I meant Number Two (Prague Powder or "Cure") which mkayahara correctly abbreviates to "No. 2". And which has some nitrate, for longer-term curing protection, as recommended for air curing of items to be eaten without cooking.

That Nitrate degrades to Nitrite and thence to Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) during curing has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with this... :rolleyes:

Nitrous (N2O) is for cream whippers, Adria-followers and petrol-heads (and some Dead-heads too), but not AFAIK for curers... :biggrin: (An appropriate smiley for laughing gas...)

And to clarify what Ruhlman writes in Chapter 5 -- Number Two contains, rather than "is", Sodium Nitrate...

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

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I just watched Mark Bittman yukking it up with Fergus Henderson, cooking a bacon chop. Now what's stopping me from curing and smoking some nice fatty shoulder chops, using the technique for pork belly, which I really have trouble finding in the stores. Should I change anything, do you think? I've made bacon and Canadian bacon and was very happy with them both.

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McDuff, an alternative to the dry curing you could use is to brine 3 - 4 lb pieces of butt. The brine recipe for ham hocks wouldn't be a bad one for this. I've had nice results either way.

I like to have cured and smoked pork butt on hand. It can be sliced thin and fried up (butt bacon or cottage bacon). Its a nice change from belly bacon now and then. Or in a pinch, you can cut thick slabs to press into service wherever you might use chunks of ham.

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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.

Sorry to dig this quote so far out of the archives, but this seems like a fundamental principle that isn't quite clear to me and I'm trying to sort it out.

In general, I feel like I have the basic grasp of using nitrites as a preventative measure against botulism. Ruhlman also advocates using nitrites to affect flavor, so it seems that there may be times when you may want to add them even though they may not be necessary for safety (corned beef is a prime example). Using nitrates in ground meat products also makes sense, as the "time release" effect ensures safety over prolonged aging periods.

But I get confused when it comes to whole muscles. Ruhlman states above that neither nitrites nor nitrates are needed, as the conditions for botulism toxin development are not present. However, in the book, the Brasaola recipe calls for cure #2 (nitrites and nitrates), which seems to be unnecessary, unless it is being added for flavor only. If this is the case though, why wouldn't you just use cure #1? In contrast, the guanciale cure in the (updated) book calls for ordinary kosher salt only, although the directions state that cure #1 can be added for flavor if desired. Both of these are aged for the same amount of time, 3 weeks.

Upthread, jmolinari also mentioned using cure #2 in his bresaola. But his method involves stuffing the bresaola into a casing. Perhaps in this case, the use of cure #2 is necessary for safety as the surface is not in direct contact with the outside air (oxygen) during its long aging time.

Anyone have any thoughts to help clarify appropriate use of these curing agents beyond what's already been said? Thanks!

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Hi Rich - and welcome to the asylum!

It might help to recognise the following

- in straight nitrAte curing, the necessary first step is for nitrAte to be broken down to nitrIte (by bacteria). Then the nitrIte can react (I'd say chemically rather than biochemically) with the meat, beneficially altering its colour, flavour and texture. As more nitrIte is released by the nitrAte, it goes on to react promptly with the meat. So the rate of curing depends on the rate that the bacteria and nitrAte interact.

- but starting with nitrIte means that the first (bacterial) step isn't needed. The nitrIte just gets on and reacts with the meat, basically until its all used up.

- however, in nitrAte curing, part of the idea is that a little nitrAte hangs around, to provide lasting protection. Hence, nitrAte is generally advised when curing things that could be going to be stored, long term. And a tiny amount of nitrAte in the product definitely produces a certain 'seasoning' "tang", a taste-able difference (for DIY its your call as to whether its + or -).

- BUT the US FDA thinks that nitrAte 'hanging around' (residual nitrAte) is a bad idea in products that are going to be cooked, so its nitrIte (and no nitrAte) for that stuff. Whether this is a real concern is a matter for (high level) debate. The EU doesn't think there's any problem with a little nitrAte in product for cooking.

- because nitrIte is not dependent on bacterial action, its action is quicker and "more reliable".

- something that Ruhlman fails to make clear is that No 2 is *not* just nitrAte. No 2 is in fact No 1 with a little added nitrAte - giving reliable, quick, not-bacteria-dependent change of colour, taste and texture - and yet with some nitrAte to hang around and zap the bad guys if they ever show up. The best of both worlds!

So for the US, consider the rule as being: If you will be cooking it (including *hot* smoking) then use Cure No 1. If its for eating raw, use Cure No 2.

"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.

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.

Sorry to dig this quote so far out of the archives, but this seems like a fundamental principle that isn't quite clear to me and I'm trying to sort it out.

In general, I feel like I have the basic grasp of using nitrites as a preventative measure against botulism. Ruhlman also advocates using nitrites to affect flavor, so it seems that there may be times when you may want to add them even though they may not be necessary for safety (corned beef is a prime example). Using nitrates in ground meat products also makes sense, as the "time release" effect ensures safety over prolonged aging periods.

But I get confused when it comes to whole muscles. Ruhlman states above that neither nitrites nor nitrates are needed, as the conditions for botulism toxin development are not present. However, in the book, the Brasaola recipe calls for cure #2 (nitrites and nitrates), which seems to be unnecessary, unless it is being added for flavor only. If this is the case though, why wouldn't you just use cure #1? In contrast, the guanciale cure in the (updated) book calls for ordinary kosher salt only, although the directions state that cure #1 can be added for flavor if desired. Both of these are aged for the same amount of time, 3 weeks.

Upthread, jmolinari also mentioned using cure #2 in his bresaola. But his method involves stuffing the bresaola into a casing. Perhaps in this case, the use of cure #2 is necessary for safety as the surface is not in direct contact with the outside air (oxygen) during its long aging time.

Anyone have any thoughts to help clarify appropriate use of these curing agents beyond what's already been said? Thanks!

I guess if one were to agree that cure #2 isn't strictly necessary for whole muscles, then one could argue that it is used for flavor and color preservation.

Casings are air permeable, so it wouldn't make a difference as far as oxygen contact.

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Thanks dougal and jmolinari for the quick feedback. It's nice to be part of the "institution" now, rather than continuing to toil away in solitary confinement :smile:

If I understand correctly then, nitrites are responsible for 3 things - killing bugs, retaining color, and creating that "cured" flavor. Nitrate must be converted to nitrite in order to be effective against bugs, and this can only occur through interaction with bacteria. Any non-reacted nitrate will remain in the finished product. Sound right?

dougal, I have experienced the tangy "cured" flavor before from using cure #1 (nitrites only). Is there a difference between that flavor and the flavor of residual nitrates?

Also, without the purposful addition of good bacteria (i.e. bactoferm culture for a salami), you would have to rely on naturally occuring bacteria in the air and meat in order to transform the nitrates into nitrites for them to be useful. I imagine that the success rate of this transformation will vary considerably across unique environments. It seems that for the bresaola example, then, that you could acheive all necessary curing functions using cure #1. Is cure #2 recommended only for an additional layer of safety?

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... If I understand correctly then, nitrites are responsible for 3 things - killing bugs, retaining color, and creating that "cured" flavor. 
They/It creates the 'pink' colour. And there's a texture change too.
Nitrate must be converted to nitrite in order to be effective against bugs, and this can only occur through interaction with bacteria.
Bugs=bacteria.

You've always got some.

Thing is to keep the population seriously low. In human-effect terms.

Any non-reacted nitrate will remain in the finished product. 
To protect it in storage (functionally), and depending on your palate, provide the 'right' flavour.
I have experienced the tangy "cured" flavor before from using cure #1 (nitrites only).  Is there a difference between that flavor and the flavor of residual nitrates?
NitrIte is massively more (curing) potent and requires a smaller excess to be toxic.

You don't want any excess.

I don't think you should be tasting nitrIte as such - there shouldn't really be any left after the cure is complete. Other things also give 'tanginess'.

Also, without the purposful addition of good bacteria (i.e. bactoferm culture for a salami), you would have to rely on naturally occuring bacteria in the air and meat in order to transform the nitrates into nitrites for them to be useful.  I imagine that the success rate of this transformation will vary considerably across unique environments.  It seems that for the bresaola example, then, that you could acheive all necessary curing functions using cure #1.  Is cure #2 recommended only for an additional layer of safety?

Note that there are *lots* of different bacteria involved.

Those in a "salami starter culture" are there to help acidify the product (thereby providing another important 'hurdle' against (especially) botulinus) -- quite independently of nitrate (to nitrite) reducing bacteria.

And the acidity gives a 'tang' too... :smile:

For more than you want to know on the subject of nitrate and nitrite, try this:

http://forum.rivercottage.net/viewtopic.php?p=171709#171709

:cool:

I previously posted a link (and caveats) to the "Meat Inspectors Handbook" which details calculation of quantities of nitrate and nitrite for US regulatory purposes (whether or not they be exactly theoretically justifiable, it explains what the *legal* limitations are in practical terms.)

Here: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showto...dpost&p=1273456

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

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For more than you want to know on the subject of nitrate and nitrite, try this:

http://forum.rivercottage.net/viewtopic.php?p=171709#171709

:cool:

On the contrary, this is just the kind of info I'm looking for. Thanks!

Note that there are *lots* of different bacteria involved.

Those in a "salami starter culture" are there to help acidify the product (thereby providing another important 'hurdle' against (especially) botulinus) -- quite independently of nitrate (to nitrite) reducing bacteria.

And the acidity gives a 'tang' too...  :smile:

Speaking of tang, I seem to recall that some posters in this forum were unhappy with the amount of sourness in a salami product when using the F-RM-52 bactoferm culture. Has anyone acheived better results using one of the alternative cultures (I realize that this is a matter of personal taste)?

The amount of dextrose affects this characteristic also, right? Since the dextrose provides food for the bacteria, does the rate of reproduction change as the amount of dextrose is changed? Is this lever off limits due to safety issues (i.e. the need to maintain certain bacterial levels to ensure proper pH)?

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The amount of dextrose will affect the ultimate tang, and pH. Different bacteria are supposed to taste different, but i haven't verified that yet. I have all 4 types now in my freezer, and i'm planning on doing a test soon.

There is a minimum amount listed in Bertolli's book to be safe. He lists this as 0.5% of the raw weight of the fat and meat.

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Getting ready to do some lardo.

My backfat weight is different so I need to scale the recipe.

I have a question about the lardo recipe that Jason posted. Wonder what the residual salt %you are looking for? looks like the brine is 1300g(300 salt+1000 H2o) and the meat is 1000g.That would be 2300g total.The 300g salt would give you 13% residualsalt at equalibrium (300 to 2300). Since I have never tasted lardo, I dont know if that is to salty and I am not sure how to proceed...Any direction would be appreciated..

I also dont have a real feel for how to serve it..But I have 3 months to figure that out...I hope.

Bud

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qrn, i'm not really sure what you mean by "residual salt". I just go for a 30% brine solution.

When you eat it, if it is too salty, soak in cold water for 24 hours for every kg of lardo.

Serve sliced very thin on warm crusty bread with some black pepper.

Based on the weights, your the amount of salt% in the finished product would be around 13%. This is assuming that the 3 months would equate to "equilibrium"(the salt % in the brine and the meat would be the same).( 300g salt to 2300g of total weight).

The same as if you added 13% salt into a ground meat recipe.And Probably 4%more than a country ham.

I don't know if fat comes to "equilibrium" like meat does..And the very thin sliceing would make a difference as well.

If your product is ok at that level I will proceed , and report back.

I just wasn't sure if that was to much salt...Thanks for the help, Again!You are a great resource,and your blog is very interesting as well!...

Bud

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