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FoodMan

Curing and Cooking with Ruhlman & Polcyn's "Charcuterie" (Part 1)

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So how did the black pepper cure turn out?  Tasty, or too bland to be worth the trouble, or what? 

Turned out very tasty, yes, a bit too salty but the pepper edge was great. I'm curious as to how the sweeter cure will affect the pork, though, and want to taste it without the pepper. That's also partly bc that lop yuk (sans pepper) was so fantastic.


Chris Amirault

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The primary quality difference manifested as a very thin hard layer on the exterior of the belly after it was smoked.

When I cooked a few slices from the 2nd belly, instead of being consistently tender like they were from the first batch, there was a bit of hard chew along the top edge.  It was still tasty but almost jerky-like in texture....  It probably had to do with some other variable like the (difference in) thickness of the belly, the temperature to which I smoked it (went slightly over 150 F), outside air temperature during the process, wood type or the fact that I smoked it skin-side-up instead of skin-side-down.

Hmmm...I never would have thought of that (smoking skin up vs down). Thanks for the suggestion. Did you smoke the first belly entirely with the skin side down? Based on zero experience :wacko:, that sure sounds to me like it might be the major culprit. I think I'll smoke my first one skin side down, just to see how it works out. I can't wait to get going on this, because I really, really love good bacon :raz:. Thanks again for the help.


"My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne." John Maynard Keynes

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OK, so I finally got my copy and got started this weekend with the pate de campagne. I generally followed the recipe, only varying the spice mix a bit by substituting some grains of paradise for part of the black pepper. I also note that mine seemed to take longer than the recipe indicated to come to temperature (160F, as I had chicken livers) - probably 1.5 hours or even a little more rather than 1 hour as indicated.

I would give the results a solid "B", but not better. That said, I think I would like to try it again in a couple of areas. Most importantly, the texture is much looser than commercial pates I have tried. The edges approach a good texture, but the middle is slighly crumbly (despite being appropriately moist and pink). My two guesses are a little more mixing to develop proteins and, maybe more important, I think I would weight it longer and heavier. I did a little less than 24 hours with about 2 lbs. That didn't seem like a lot of weight at the time. Any thoughts?

A few other thoughts: my grinder (Kitchen Aid stand mixer attachment) didn't really do very much to the onion and parsley, so I would probably take more care in mincing those next time. In addition, while I did trim out my pork a fair bit, I was not 100% obsessed with getting all the silverskin, etc., and it does show a little in the final product.

The other change I would make is purely personal. Any mixture of meat, garlic and corriander just screams hotdog to me. I think I would nix the corriander and play around a bit.

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The primary quality difference manifested as a very thin hard layer on the exterior of the belly after it was smoked.

When I cooked a few slices from the 2nd belly, instead of being consistently tender like they were from the first batch, there was a bit of hard chew along the top edge.  It was still tasty but almost jerky-like in texture....  It probably had to do with some other variable like the (difference in) thickness of the belly, the temperature to which I smoked it (went slightly over 150 F), outside air temperature during the process, wood type or the fact that I smoked it skin-side-up instead of skin-side-down.

Hmmm...I never would have thought of that (smoking skin up vs down). Thanks for the suggestion. Did you smoke the first belly entirely with the skin side down? Based on zero experience :wacko:, that sure sounds to me like it might be the major culprit. I think I'll smoke my first one skin side down, just to see how it works out. I can't wait to get going on this, because I really, really love good bacon :raz:. Thanks again for the help.

Yes, the first time out, the belly was in the smoker with the skin-side-down (facing the heat) the entire time and I think it made a difference. I guess I'll be better able to make a determination after a few more runs -- hopefully by this coming Sunday. I'll be sure to report back.

=R=


"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

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ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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I've finished the salmon. Here are a few shots. First, the contraption in which I weighted down the fish:

gallery_19804_437_141792.jpg

That seemed to work very well:

gallery_19804_437_128268.jpg

Here's what the fish looked like when I removed it from the bag:

gallery_19804_437_194179.jpg

And after having the fennel, seeds, and pepper rinsed off:

gallery_19804_437_159362.jpg

It's certainly a beautiful thing:

gallery_19804_437_68667.jpg

It cured up very nicely; the texture is great and it's very salmon-y. It's a bit too fennel-flavored for my tastes, but I've only had edge pieces. More, soon, with some cream cheese, capers, and onions on a good bagel.

Next time, I think I'd like to try it with a less intricate cure, just the sugar, salt, and pepper....


Chris Amirault

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salami.jpg

Is it done yet? This is in theory some beef salami, as you can see from the toe tag it's been hanging for 10 days, it's lost 40% of its weight and is reasonably firm. This is my first batch of dry cured sausage so I thought I'd get a 2nd opinion before chowing down on it. Thoughts? :blink:

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Looks like there is some case hardening, but if the center isn't too soft and squishy probably ins't an issue. 40% weight loss is a good amount, i would probably eat it.

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How would you define too soft and squishy? It's some soft, and some squishy, but certainly more firm than it was when it went into the casing.

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I'm not sure, i've never had case hardening:)

I'd say as long as it doesn't feel wet, smell funky, and feels like a commercial salame, you should be fine.

You could leave it for another week, if you don't feel sure.

jason

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I've got another two hanging so I put this one back with the others, I'll check on it again next week. This is the first time I've used artificial casings, so far I'm not a fan.

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Chris, that looks fantastic. Great job. I'm not a big fennel fan either, so I appreciate the scouting report.

Dave, I'd eat it (and not just because Jason said he would :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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I've used only artificial casings on mine so far, made lots and lots of them...

I'd like to use natural to compare flavor, but i don't want to buy a huge ass pack of beef middles (they don't seem to sell middles in small home packs). How casings are a bit small for my liking (they are like 25mm, my smallest salame uses 43mm rounds).

jason

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Hello All

This is my first post on e-Gullet. I am very pleased to join you. I currently have a bresaola and Canadian Bacon curing in my fridge. The bresaola is due to hang this weekend and I will also hot smoke the bacon for about 6 hours on Sunday. One question. I noted that Food Man cured his bresaola in the fridge and thus avoided bad mold. Isn't the fridge too dry an environment? The stuff he made looked great in his pics. Any thoughts?

Jim

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James, i tend to believe that for pieces like coppa and breasaola the fridge is too dry...i'm not sure how Foodman got it to work.

For pancetta, the flat one, not rolled, the fridge works very well.

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Hello All

This is my first post on e-Gullet.  I am very pleased to join you.  I currently have a bresaola and Canadian Bacon curing in my fridge.  The bresaola is due to hang this weekend and I will also hot smoke the bacon for about 6 hours on Sunday.  One question.  I noted that Food Man cured his bresaola in the fridge and thus avoided bad mold.  Isn't the fridge too dry an environment?  The stuff he made looked great in his pics.  Any thoughts?

Jim

Welcome aboard James. I'll try and answer your question. The fridge is too dry for proper curing of LARGE pieces of meat. For smaller one ones like the Bresaola I made, and with some maintenance, it works. See, the first time around and like I mentioned, my bresaola outside of the fridge developed nasty green mold so I did not want to risk it again. What I did to prevent excessive drying, is rubbing the beef with very little olive oil 2 or 3 times during the 2 weeks of curing. This helped keep the outside from drying too much and the end product was excellent, maybe I would add a little more salt next time around though, since it was a little on the sweeter side. I am still hoping to find a better way to cure in Houston, but for now, my extra fridge has to do.

I still have about a quarter of the bresaola in my fridge, wrapped loosly in wax paper and it is still very good and developed a thin powdery white mold, which is harmelss (right? :unsure: ). In any case I eat from it regularly and I'm still here.

All, everyone's bacon is amazing. My first Pancetta rolled and all was ready early this week. Pics to follow soon, and more bacon on the way...I'm loving this.


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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I'm rolling my boneless leg of lamb this weekend for my lamb prosciutto. Pics to follow.

Foodman, the white mold is fine, it might not even be mold, it may be salt cristals..just wipe/cut it off...no harm.

jason

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hwilson41, that's great about your pork source. I'm curing fresh bacon belly #2 right now. The first one was a black pepper cure, and this one is a dark brown sugar cure. I'm trying to get a sense of the base line for these before I start smoking, since I'm hoping to do this regularly.

I'm also trying to convince myself that I deserve a Bradley Smoker. But that's another issue.... :wink:

I've been looking into Bradley Smoker as well with plans to upgrade it by installing a PID to control temperature "automatically" and more precisely.

It turns out that new models of the Bradley Smoker are coming out in May-timeframe with this feature included.

I haven't decided yet whether to wait and get this for $499 or get one of the current models for $299 + approx. $100 for modifications.

Lot's of good discussions about Bradley Smoker in their forums.

Also, this is a very good article on how to modify a fridge for dry curing:

Converting a fridge for dry curing ... I have seen this on other threads on egullet as well...I would love to do this soon...(win-win...Honey can I buy you a new fridge because I love you so much - BTW, I'm going to put the old one in the basement...that is if I can't find a cheap one around somewhere).


Edited by Expat Russ (log)

Expat Russ

Three Passions:

Food

Travel<=click to go to my travel website...

BBQ and BQ<=click to go to my blog about trying to balance great food and qualifying for the Boston Marathon

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I've been looking into Bradley Smoker as well with plans to upgrade it by installing a PID to control temperature "automatically" and more precisely.

Since I'm a technical idiot, I asked wikipedia for help:

A Proportional-Integral-Derivative controller or PID is a standard feedback loop component in industrial control applications. It measures an "output" of a process and controls an "input", with a goal of maintaining the output at a target value, which is called the "setpoint". An example of a PID application is the control of a process temperature, although it can be used to control any measurable variable which can be affected by manipulating some other process variable.

Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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A PID is most probably overkill for a smoker, a regular on/off temp controller, which can be bought for $50, would work perfectly fine. You don't need perfect control in a smoker, maintaining temp withing +-15 deg. will work, and a temp controller would do that.

Not only that, a PID may not be able to control any better than a standard controller could because of the setup and how long it takes for the probe to pick up a temperature change.

My point is, if that is the only change in the new smokers, i'd buy an old model on clearance, and add a $50 controller, and a $10 temp probe.

Let me know if you wnat information on where to buy one.

jason

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A PID is most probably overkill for a smoker, a regular on/off temp controller, which can be bought for $50, would work perfectly fine. You don't need perfect control in a smoker, maintaining temp withing +-15 deg. will work, and a temp controller would do that.

Not only that, a PID may not be able to control any better than a standard controller could because of the setup and how long it takes for the probe to pick up a temperature change.

My point is, if that is the only change in the new smokers, i'd buy an old model on clearance, and add a $50 controller, and a $10 temp probe.

Let me know if you wnat information on where to buy one.

jason

thanks for your feedback. i am leaning towards buying an old one...if for nothing else than i like to tinker, and besides, what is wrong with a little overkill - especially with cold smoking....the bradley forums seem to think a pid gives much better control...on a lighter note and back on subject...i'm off to butcher-packer (the store not the website) on saturday...one of the good things about living in detroit. getting some pink salt and making a corned beef.

russ


Edited by Expat Russ (log)

Expat Russ

Three Passions:

Food

Travel<=click to go to my travel website...

BBQ and BQ<=click to go to my blog about trying to balance great food and qualifying for the Boston Marathon

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On this fine Friday night, while everyone else in the house is in bed, I'm up finishing my fresh bacon with the oven roast -- and I'm remembering that last time the "two hour" roasting period to get the belly up to 150F is a bit closer to four hours.... :hmmm:


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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On this fine Friday night, while everyone else in the house is in bed, I'm up finishing my fresh bacon with the oven roast -- and I'm remembering that last time the "two hour" roasting period to get the belly up to 150F is a bit closer to four hours.... :hmmm:

I am SO jealous! I am waiting anxiously for the 22 of March when another trip to Toronto is in the works and I can get some pork bellies and I hope some fat back. The bacon I made I put on the table for our annual Danish lunch and it disappeared so fast that I didn't even get a slice!


Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

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The bacon I made I put on the table for our annual Danish lunch and it disappeared so fast that I didn't even get a slice!

You are probably a more noble person than I, Anna, but that would really piss me off :raz::biggrin:.

Re my current bacon experiment ("practicing..." as one of the authors says), made it back from the Amish farm late yesterday, with one piece of pork belly that looked amazing. It measured roughly 11 x 17 inches and weighed 11.5 lbs (I have pics, but will save them for the end result). I cut it in half, applied the maple cure from the recipe, with 1 tsp or so of pepper added to each recipe, and socked the two pieces away in 2 gallon ziplocks. It was over 2" thick in many places, so I'm doubtful that it will fully cure in 7 days, but we shall see. Also brought back some apple wood from a friend's farm that I will use to smoke it. I can hardly wait :biggrin:.


"My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne." John Maynard Keynes

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Oh, I'm in heaven. I have Charcuterie (albeit from the library, but that will make me know that I have this book). My local meat market normally carries pork bellies, but they are out until next week. They also carry casings and a full line of salts and curing agents. And, best of all, this place is but 4 miles from my house.

Happy dance!


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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