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

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Sure. If there's no air in the bag, then the only thing that can come into contact with the meat is the curing liquid.

And the curing process does not require oxygen?

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edsel   
And the curing process does not require oxygen?

That's an interesting question - does that lack of oxygen in the bag change the way the meat cures? I just assumed that it wouldn't.

Vacuum sealing seems like a good idea just because there's no chance of stuff leaking out (or anything getting in). I'm not worried about the botulism issue (anaerobic environment) since there's pink salt and regular salt in the curing mix.

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And the curing process does not require oxygen?

That's an interesting question - does that lack of oxygen in the bag change the way the meat cures? I just assumed that it wouldn't.

Vacuum sealing seems like a good idea just because there's no chance of stuff leaking out (or anything getting in). I'm not worried about the botulism issue (anaerobic environment) since there's pink salt and regular salt in the curing mix.

Vacuum sealing is considered to be an excellent way to marinade. I don't see why it would be any different for curing, but I'm not a science guy.

=R=

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Vacuum sealing is considered to be an excellent way to marinade.  I don't see why it would be any different for curing, but I'm not a science guy.

Ron, you may very well be correct. I wasn't asking to be a smartass. I was asking because I don't know the answer :raz:. My gut feeling is that oxygen would enhance the curing process, but I'm not sure. Where are all the SSBs when you need them :wacko:?

Edited to add comment that might or might not sound semi-intelligent :wacko:.


Edited by hwilson41 (log)

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BarbaraY   

A question for those who have this book. Does it have instructions for making dried beef? Not jerky but the kind that's sliced thin for chipped beef.

Haven't decided yet whether I want to buy it since I haven't done any curing for about 8 years, except for jerky.

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Pallee   

Regarding zip locks for bacon curing, I just used a hotel pan and turned it a couple times a day. It cured up fine in 7 days. The side facing down was covered in the brine all the way. Plus I got to play with it more! :laugh:

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Vacuum sealing is considered to be an excellent way to marinade.  I don't see why it would be any different for curing, but I'm not a science guy.

Ron, you may very well be correct. I wasn't asking to be a smartass. I was asking because I don't know the answer :raz:. My gut feeling is that oxygen would enhance the curing process, but I'm not sure. Where are all the SSBs when you need them :wacko:?

Edited to add comment that might or might not sound semi-intelligent :wacko:.

Oh, I didn't interpret it that way at all. And yes, I'd genuinely like to know the science behind this concept too. Indeed, where are all our resident SSB's today? Is there some sort of convention going on? :raz:

=R=

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Anna N   
A question for those who have this book. Does it have instructions for making dried beef? Not jerky but the kind that's sliced thin for chipped beef.

Haven't decided yet whether I want to buy it since I haven't done any curing for about 8 years, except for jerky.

BarbaraY, I do not believe there is a recipe for that kind of dried beef. I have looked at the index and don't see any such thing.

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BarbaraY   
A question for those who have this book. Does it have instructions for making dried beef? Not jerky but the kind that's sliced thin for chipped beef.

Haven't decided yet whether I want to buy it since I haven't done any curing for about 8 years, except for jerky.

BarbaraY, I do not believe there is a recipe for that kind of dried beef. I have looked at the index and don't see any such thing.

Thanks Anna, My daughter wanted some chipped beef gravy so I bought a jar of the Hormel stuff. Naaaaasty!

It is no longer made from, what I believe was, beef round but ground up Who Knows What. It was distressingly salty and had no other taste. Obviously some time since I bought any.

I have my grandfather's butchering book from 1939 that has a recipe for 100 pounds of meat but that might be a bit much. :blink:

I found one on the net for 3 lbs. and may give that a try.

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melkor   

I finished off batch #2 of beef bacon earlier in the week. This time I used wagyu brisket point from snake river farms. The first batch I cold smoked for 4 hours before hot smoking it, this time I just hot smoked it. Double smoked is much better. The wagyu fat has a much better taste and texture than the fat from the generic untrimmed brisket I had used previously. Behold, bacon for those of us living reduced pork lifestyles:

whole.jpg

before slicing

sliced.jpg

sliced

cooking.jpg

Almost ready to flip...

I'll double smoke the next batch, otherwise I'm happy with how it turned out. The flat from the same brisket made some seriously good pastrami. I'll post pics when I steam some more.

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I am going to try the soppressata recipe from the book. Can anyone tell me how to gauge the pH? Is this done after it is in the casing and has incubated? If so how do you test with pH paper? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Jim

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CDC   

For bresaola, I think you're right about the eye of round. That's what I've been using (now on my second batch) and it seems just about perfect both in size and leanness. My recipe is pretty similar to yours except that I include some red wine, which probably deepens the flavor and works nicely with some of the other ingredients. The raw ingredients are pictured at http://larder.blogspot.com/ . The outside is very hard after hanging for three or four weeks, though. I've hung hams for several months that were still less hard than this beef. It's not so bad as to be case-hardened, and the inside is perfectly fine all the way through, but could a too-dry environment be responsible for the extreme outer hardness? Could the acidity of the wine be a factor?

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James, to measure the pH of the meat, i would keep some of the paste out of the casigns, and wrap that in plastic wrap, so it is about the same diamter as the cased meat. Hang it in the incubation chamber with the others, and then after 24 hrs, take some of the paste in the plastic wrap, and mince it super fine, and mix it with the same amount of distilled water.

Take the pH of that slurry.

CDC, i've tried using wine on pancetta, and it gave the meat a very winey flavor i didn't care for, so i havn't used it on other meats. The hams have a lot more fat, which probably explains why they don't dry out as much.

jason

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CDC, i've tried using wine on pancetta, and it gave the meat a very winey flavor i didn't care for, so i havn't used it on other meats.

jason

that's interesting about the wine. i would urge anyone using wine in cures or marinades to cook it till most of the alcohol is gone and chill it. what's left is a fantastically fruity liquid that won't denature the exterior protein or add the harsh effects of alcohol.

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CDC   

Michael, that's a good suggestion about vaporizing off the alcohol first, especially in a situation like this where it's in contact for days rather than hours. Thanks!

Like many of the others here, I recently acquired your Charcuterie book. For many years I've acquired or at least examined every book I could find with material on the subject, and yours is one of the few (maybe 5% or so?) that has any significant amount of original (i.e., non-obvious) content. I think that down the road it could end up being viewed as a fairly important book in the popular culinary history of these years. Seriously. :smile:

I think the hot-smoked bacon idea is pretty interesting. I've always cold-smoked it, and would never have thought to try the other -- but I'm going to do so now...

re the Ziplocs, I'd be afraid to put the cure directly on a hotel pan as Pallee does (especially an aluminum one) or any other reactive surface for fear that I'd end up with metal in my meat. Aluminum is very conductive and so corrodes readily (ever had an aluminum boat in salt water with no zincs protecting the hull?) and in fact is sometimes used as anode material to protect brine tanks in industry. Not very appetizing; thanks anyway. I usually use food-grade plastic containers, or ceramic or glass if the meat fits in one.

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Michael, that's a good suggestion about vaporizing off the alcohol first, especially in a  situation like this where it's in contact for days rather than hours.  Thanks!

Like many of the others here, I recently acquired your Charcuterie book. For many years I've acquired or at least examined every book I could find with material on the subject, and yours is one of the few (maybe 5% or so?) that has any significant amount of original (i.e., non-obvious) content. I think that down the road it could end up being viewed as a fairly important book in the popular culinary history of these years.  Seriously.  :smile:

I think you're onto something. Charcuterie has been nominated for a Beard award in the Single Subject Book category. Brian Polcyn was also nominated this year in the Best Chef - Midwest category.

Congrats, gents.

=R=

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Pallee   

!

re the Ziplocs, I'd be afraid to put the cure directly on a hotel pan as Pallee does (especially an aluminum one) or any other reactive surface for fear that I'd end up with metal in my meat. Aluminum is very conductive and so corrodes readily (ever had an aluminum boat in salt water with no zincs protecting the hull?) and in fact is sometimes used as anode material to protect brine tanks in industry. Not very appetizing; thanks anyway. I usually use food-grade plastic containers, or ceramic or glass if the meat fits in one.

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Abra   

I deemed my duck prosciutto to be ready today, after 8 days, even though it's still relatively soft. It hasn't changed in a couple of days, so it seemed finished.

gallery_16307_2661_50203.jpg

Two muscovy breasts nestled in a bed of salt. Too bad I didn't turn one over, but check out the color of the meat at the edges, just for the contrast with later. They did get completely blanketed in salt before going into the fridge, of course.

gallery_16307_2661_90028.jpg

After 24 hours in the salt, the meat has firmed up and darkened considerably.

gallery_16307_2661_65553.jpg

Not having really figured out a hanging spot, the breasts, wrapped in cheesecloth, hung in a string bag in my garage for 8 days. It was a consistent 57-59 degrees, but the humidity really varied with the weather. Most of the time it was between 45-50%, although today it was up to 59%. I was worried about the outside drying out too much, but no.

gallery_16307_2661_6083.jpg

The duck remains soft, possibly too soft. For example, it's too soft to slice paper thin with a knife, and a mandoline won't do a thing but smear it. It's a bit chewy, as a result of not being thin. The flavor is...good. Somewhat underwhelming. Tastes like duck. The fat is delicious. I was hoping for something more thrilling, I have to admit. I didn't use any pepper, wanting the pure duck flavor, and that's what I got, so I can't complain. I expect that this will get eaten more like pancetta, slivered and crisped into things, unless any of you have a brilliant idea of something I can do to inspire it a bit more at this late date.

I have bacon and pancetta curing in the fridge, and an idea for a little charcuterie shack. I'm hoping to get it up a functioning in the next few days, and I'll post it if it's presentable.

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abra, that looks way to soft. it's possible that those gorgeous breasts needed a little longer packed in salt, or perhaps they were so thoroughly wrapped in cloth that they didn't lose enough moisture. they need to breath. let them dry a while longer. you must be able to cut this slices--it won't be good to eat otherwise.

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Abra   

Thanks, Michael. I'll hang them back up again, wrapped a little lighter this time.. And maybe this time I'll give them a little pepper rub, now that I've had a taste. Hmmm, maybe I should rub the already-cut surface with a bit of salt, too, just to keep the bugs away.

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Michael, thanks for the tip about cooking off the alcohol before using it. I guess i'll just simme a cup of wine for a few minutes before i add it to the meat next time, great idea! Would you recommend doing this when adding wine to a salame as well? I found the same problem when i added it to my salame, the winey flavor was too strong for me.

Abra, that duck breast is definitely too soft, maybe you didn't dry it long enough? Here is my method/recipe when i made it july '04:

1lb duck breast (magret)

4.5 tsp salt

1.5tsp thyme - dry

2.5 tsp black pepper

4 juniper berries

1.5 tsp sugar

1 bay leaf

1/8 tsp cure #2

I cured it in the mixture for 4 days

Hung it for 2 weeks, it lost about 45% of its weight. It was very tasty, ducky, and delicious. soft, and a bit chewy, but sliced thin it was quite delicate.

jason


Edited by jmolinari (log)

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Abra   

Jason - your method differs in the use of the cure #2, and the timing. This was just in salt for 24 hours, then hung for 8 days. I don't think I can really re-cure it at this point (or can I?) but I have re-hung it

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I think rehanging will be fine. I used cure #2 because it was being cured for a while (2 weeks).

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CDC   

I had the same problem (too soft) the first time I tried duck prosciutto. I was using wild duck and thought that since they are so much drier to start with (wild waterfowl can be totally unlike the domestic birds) I should take great care not to over-dry them. Oops. The silver lining to that cloud was that the too-soft meat was wonderful when cooked up with some white beans, a few herbs, and good duck stock! In fact, as far as I'm concerned it might be worth doing it again just for that purpose.

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I think rehanging will be fine. I used cure #2 because it was being cured for a while (2 weeks).

sodium nitrite or sodium nitrate (#1 or #2) are not necessary for curing duck this way because botulism isn't an issue. The only preparations for which #2 is essential are dry-cured sausages.

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