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FoodMan

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

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Unfortunately, no time for pics this week but both my bacons from last weekend turned out very well. The 'hard edge' problem from Round 2 has been resolved. I think it was a case of smoking the belly a little too long and doing it with the skin side facing away from the heat. Last weekend's results were tender from edge to edge and it's probably due to the fact that I used the skin side as a 'heat shield' this time around.

Interestingly, the paprika bacon actually tastes 'hammier' and sweeter than the maple-cured bacon. Also, because I had nothing else on hand, I used 100% hickory for both these bellies. I like it but don't love it. I really prefer cherry or apple wood for bacon.

I also produced a batch of Italian sausage this week with a highly customized variation of the recipe in the book. The seasoned chunks of meat were in the fridge before some unforeseen schedule issues came up and I had to either make sausage or possibly throw the whole deal away.

Anyway, the atypical route the process took this week caused me to leave the casings soaking much longer than I usually do. Normally, I soak them for an hour or 2. This time around, I soaked them for 2 days. The unplanned variation was educational for me. Not only did the casings slip onto (and off of) the horn much more easily, the "spider lines" we discussed upthread were completely gone. I guess that I hadn't been re-hydrating the casings as much as I should have or could have been with those previous batches. 5+ pounds of sausage 'tubed' easily; with no bursts, breakage or incidents.

And, one other note about Coppa, which was also discussed upthread. Just to back up Jason's statement upthread about it being one contiguous cut of meat, here's what Paul Bertolli says about it in his book Cooking by Hand: ". . . fresh coppa, a superb braising and curing cut within the shoulder . . ." There is no further information about how to locate or butcher it.

=R=

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Abra   

Beautiful bacon, Doc-G. I got my pork belly yesterday, now I'm just awaiting the arrival of my pink salt and I'll be following in your footsteps. This morning I have to improvise some sort of little hanging box for my duck prosciutto. It's only 2 breatss, so a small box should do it while I'm figuring out how to hang bigger stuff.

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We're thinking we might make pastrami instead of corned beef.

We have too much meat to eat at once (8lbs) and we were wondering if either pastrami or corned beef slices keep very well in the freezer for using in Reuben sandwiches later. I would hate to have the texture change and have to give away 5 lbs of meat 'cause we can't eat it all!

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melkor   

I freeze the pastrami in large pieces, unsteamed. I wouldn't freeze slices. It also keeps in the fridge for a long time - two weeks at least.

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ronni, i might make coppa this weekend, i'll take pictures of the butchering to get the coppa out.

jason

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I am the proud owner of 2 bellies -- each just over 12 pounds, and 1/4 pound of pink salt. The bellies were $1.19/lb. and the pink salt was a buck.

I'm hoping to get these bellies thawed enough so that I can pry them apart and stick one of them back in the freezer.

Bacon, here we come!

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dougal   
I'm hoping to get these bellies thawed enough so that I can pry them apart and stick one of them back in the freezer.

I'm sure you know that the ideal way to do that is patiently, in the coldest part of your fridge, so that none of the meat actually gets above 4C, 39F...

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Abra   

Drat. My duck breasts are salted and wrapped and I hung them in the garage yesterday. Today I finally got a hygrometer, and while it's a steady 59 degrees in there, the humidity is only 45%. Hey, this should prove to you that it doesn't rain all the time in Seattle!

I have a big bowl of water under where the duck is hanging, but in an open garage at that low temp, I have no hope that it can really affect the humidity. We're going to be making a box for dry curing, but in the meantime, I have these duck breasts already started and am (semi) worried that they'll dry out on the surface, rot inside, and we'll all get botulism....would misting the cheesecloth in which they're wrapped be a terrible idea?

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I'm hoping to get these bellies thawed enough so that I can pry them apart and stick one of them back in the freezer.

I'm sure you know that the ideal way to do that is patiently, in the coldest part of your fridge, so that none of the meat actually gets above 4C, 39F...

I stuck the box in the garage (38 degrees F) for about 1/2 hour, and since the bellies were packed skin on skin, the peeled apart nicely. One is in the freezer, the other in the fridge, slowly defrosting, awaiting a cure. I even remembered to get the oversized zip locks when I was at Target.

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Getting those belly halves in the zip lock bags is a bitch. The turning, tending and smoking should be a piece of cake in comparison.

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Getting those belly halves in the zip lock bags is a bitch.  The turning, tending and smoking should be a piece of cake in comparison.

What size zip locks are you using? I used the 2 gallon size, and the 5+ lb halves of bellies mentioned here were a bit small so I had to use clips to reduce the effective bag size. Maybe it is the difference in thickness. I'll know more shortly. The bellies are coming out of the cure today, drying out in the fridge for 24 hours to develop the pellicle, and into the smoker tomorrow. I can hardly wait :raz::biggrin:.

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Vist your local ice house or save 25lb ice bags. These bags work great for marinating large pieces of meat.

woodburner

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Pallee   

Here's my bacon from the smoker to the oven. It's in my belly now, and I'm happy! I smoked it for 7 hours. The first 5 cold with ice packs in the smoker and it was very cold outside as well. Then moved it into my hot smoker for 2 more hours until it reached 150'. gallery_35908_2652_694209.jpg

gallery_35908_2652_6695.jpg

gallery_35908_2652_696381.jpg

gallery_35908_2652_29276.jpg

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Anna N   
Here's my bacon from the smoker to the oven. It's in my belly now, and I'm happy! 

....

Awesome looking bacon!

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What size zip locks are you using?  I used the 2 gallon size, and the 5+ lb halves of bellies mentioned here were a bit small so I had to use clips to reduce the effective bag size.  Maybe it is the difference in thickness.  I'll know more shortly.  The bellies are coming out of the cure today, drying out in the fridge for 24 hours to develop the pellicle, and into the smoker tomorrow.  I can hardly wait :raz::biggrin:.

I'm using 2 gallon zip locks. I put each belly half in its own bag. Should they be together?

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Abra   

Today I made the Duck Confit Rillettes, with confit that I put up before Thanksgiving. I did tweak it a bit from the recipe, because we thought it was a little bland. I added a couple of tablespoons of orangecello, for a sort of duck a l'orange effect, as well as some freshly grated nutmeg and a hint of ground celery seed.

gallery_16307_2661_37958.jpg

the tasting shot

gallery_16307_2661_43086.jpg

the art shot.

I'll serve this tomorrow, and I expect that it will improve after a night of rest in the fridge.

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What size zip locks are you using?  I used the 2 gallon size, and the 5+ lb halves of bellies mentioned here were a bit small so I had to use clips to reduce the effective bag size.  Maybe it is the difference in thickness.  I'll know more shortly.  The bellies are coming out of the cure today, drying out in the fridge for 24 hours to develop the pellicle, and into the smoker tomorrow.  I can hardly wait :raz::biggrin:.

I'm using 2 gallon zip locks. I put each belly half in its own bag. Should they be together?

I'm would think not. My guess is that it's best to have the cure within the bag be able to flow freely around the entire belly and not be obstructed in any way by another belly. This is how I've handled my curing up to this point.

=R=

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Looks great, Abra. I can almost taste it from here. What's up next for you on the Charcuterie front?

=R=

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I'm using 2 gallon zip locks.  I put each belly half in its own bag.  Should they be together?

I'm with Ron on this one. I cut my belly into halves and put each in a 2 gallon zip lock. Still didn't produce as much liquid as I expected, but mine were pretty thick. More on this shortly as soon as I get the pics uploaded.

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Abra   

Now I have my belly, a jowl, and back fat, plus the pink salt and the #2 cure have arrived. All I lack is 2 gallon ziplocks, which I'll get today. Next - bacon for sure, maybe pancetta, lardo..it's so hard to choose!

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Now I have my belly, a jowl, and back fat, plus the pink salt and the #2 cure have arrived.  All I lack is 2 gallon ziplocks, which I'll get today.  Next - bacon for sure, maybe pancetta, lardo..it's so hard to choose!

Those damned 2-gallon zip locks were harder to find than I expected. Target.

Today was flip day, so they have been consolidated!

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Pallee   

I just finished making my second batch of peperone. I used 2 grams of bactoferm in this batch instead of 20. I also used only my coarse plate to grind as I am looking for a less smooth texture. The casings I have came packed in salt and I've had the problem Ronnie mentioned with them being hard to slip on the horn, after giving them an hour to soak. So after reading about him soaking them for a couple days, I gave mine an overnight soak and what a difference. Worked like a charm. Great tip!

The only problem with my batch of bacon is that suddenly 5 pounds isn't very much. It is so good I want to put it in everything as well as give it to friends. My smokers can hold so much more that next time I think I'll make 15 pounds, at least.

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bavila   
Drat.  My duck breasts are salted and wrapped and I hung them in the garage yesterday.  Today I finally got a hygrometer, and while it's a steady 59 degrees in there, the humidity is only 45%.  Hey, this should prove to you that it doesn't rain all the time in Seattle!

It may be a little late for this suggestion, but could you use a cool mist humidifier with a hygrastat? We use these all winter for respiratory comfort. This is basically it. Seems like it would work for your purposes as well.

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I use a cryo vac bag and put one section of belly each. The brine works great this way and penetrates deep into the belly in a realitivly short period of time. I then roll and hang my pancetta in the cooler approx. 40F. After a week in the brine and 2 -3 weeks hanging they are all set to go.

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edsel   
I just finished making my second batch of peperone. I used 2 grams of bactoferm in this batch instead of 20. I also used only my coarse plate to grind as I am looking for a less smooth texture. 

Pallee, did you reduce the Bactoferm because it seems wasteful to use so much or because the previous batch was too sour? If the latter, I think you need to adjust the amount of dextrose and/or milk powder in the mix. The amount of available sugar is going to determine how "fermented" the sausage turns out.

For what it's worth, the Bactoferm spec sheet says to use a minimum of 1/4 package. They're obviously geared toward commercial-scale production. I wonder how little starter culture you can get away with. Guess you're going to find out. :wink::smile:

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