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FoodMan

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

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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.

You may need to cook it longer than 5 minutes, till you can't sense the alcohol by smell or until it won't flame. Yes, it would be good to do this for the salami as well if the alcohol bothers you. it always improves the wine effect. you can add aromats to the wine as well.

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Michael, i thought #2 was to be used in long cures. How come botulism isn't an issue with the duck? It is still a low acid anaerobic environment . If it is because it is a solid piece of meat, why do we use #2 on bresaola and coppa?

Just wondering, i still have much to learn!

Thanks for the tip on the wine! I'll definitely use it next time.

jason

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Soppressata - a tale of woe.

Well I attempted my first soppressata yesterday and, as you probably surmised, it didn't go so well. I stopped at my favorite butcher in the Bronx and secured the casings, 5 lbs pork back fat (some to be frozen for future projects) and 4 lbs boneless pork shoulder. I steralized all of my equipment in a bleach solution and put them in the freezer, prepared the dry ingredients (instacure, salt, dry milk dextrose, pepper) removed the back fat from the plastic and noticed a great amount of salt on the back fat. I decided to rinse it off and then grind the fat into my chilled bowl in an ice bath. I used the grinding attachment on my Kitchenaid and all proceeded smoothly for the first 15 seconds. Then the mixer started to make noise like the motor was straining and the fat comming out began to look melted. The mixer finally ground to a halt. Well, lo and behold, there is a very tough rind on the back fat that I was too stupid to have removed. So, off came the grinder attachment and after many curse words and the use of several un-chaarcuterie like tools managed to pry the drive shaft out of the grinder. Throw the entire mess away and start over says I. So after re-cleaning and sanitizing everything and re-freezing the impliments of destruction I retreved more back fat from the freezer (good thing I bought extra), rinsed off the salt, REMOVED THE RIND and ground the fat through the fine die into my ice bath bowl. I then went to the fridge to retrieve my boneless pork shoulder that I had stowed in the fridge in its brown paper sack only to learn that they had sold me 4 lbs of pork bones. A few more curse words and then I began to laugh. Oh did I mention that one of my kids had strep and was vomiting during this episode. Oh yea, my wife was at work and a friend who was going to come to help me canceled because of the strep.

Now a few questions from the soppressata rube.

Is the fine die on a Kitchenaid too fine for the fat? It look kind of fine to me.

I vacuume sealed the ground fat and refrigerated it. I asume this is ok until I get real pork. If not, please advise.

I also asumed the dry ingredients would be ok. I didn't add the garlic or wine or bactoferm.

Should I try this again for your continued amusement?

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ojisan   

Some misc questions from 1st-time poster...

What is the purpose of leaving the skin on bacon when smoking? I would think that the bacon would get more smoke flavor without it, and what do you do with the skin afterwards - is it edible?

Vacuum sealers - I have a Foodsaver, but haven't figured out how to seal meats to be cured without sucking out the liquids, short of freezing first (not real practical). Any hints?

Anyone besides Pallee using a Luhr-Jensen smoker? I've started experimenting with using a home-made insulation wrapper on a Big Chief in order to get the temp over 200 deg. F. Anyone else using this box with any success?

thanks in advance for your inputs....

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James, I wish I could provide some guidance. I hope to learn a bit from any information which flows your way.

And welcome, ojisan. What I've learned from hot-smoking bacon with the skin on is that it provides a nice insulation which prevents the meat from getting too hard -- because I can face the skin side toward the heat source in my smoker. Of course, there's a lot of fat under that skin which probably would protect the meat from overcooking and hardening. But, as long as the skin stays on, the fat beneath it doesn't melt and run all over the inside of the smoker cabinet.

I think that in a cold-smoking situation, the skin probably isn't quite as useful. The meat isn't likely to harden at the lower temperature and likewise, the fat wouldn't melt.

Yes, the smoked skin can be boiled until soft and eaten. It's actually quite delicious and provides a great foundation for a pot of beans or jambalaya-type dishes.

=R=

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edsel   

Welcome to eGullet, ojisan.

There's no easy way to keep the liquids from being sucked out when you use a Foodsaver. There's a (very long) thread about sous vide on this forum if you're interested in more detail, but basically you need to freeze liquids with that style of machine. Basically, if it can flow, it will ooze out of the bag before it's sealed.

For the sort of thing we're doing here I would think that zip-lock bags should suffice.

I'm also interested in knowing why the rind is left on the bacon. One thing that pork rind is useful for is lining the casserole when making cassoulet. Of course it's supposed to be unsmoked rind, but I've used bacon rind that was blanched and it turned out fine.

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James, couple of items.

1) you really should use the bactoferm. You don't wnat to rely on random bacteria colonizing the salame, it may be good, it may be bad.

2) Don't use that fat, you'll ruin your salame/sausage. Salted backfat tastes entirely different from unsalted, is does not work with sausages (IMHO).

3) The kitchenaide small plate is small for the fat, it smears it too much. I use the coarse plate for pretty much all my salami.

4) Grinding the meat and fat separately and mixing them leads to additional fat smearing, and unnecessary hardships. I mix the cubed meat, cubed fat and salt/spices, then grind it all at the same time. This is just my preferance, it really simplifies the process, and maybe because of our grinder (the kitchenaid), works better than grinding separately. When i tried to grind fat alone, it seemed like i always got "fat snakes" instead of little fat pellets.

Add the bactoferm dissolved in distilled water and dextrose to the ground meat/fat, and mix.

jason


Edited by jmolinari (log)

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One note to an issue raised above: if you're finding salt on the fatback, it is NOT fresh fatback, which is what you really want for most uses in Charcuterie.

And now, the topic at hand. I made the Chipotle BBQ sauce on pp. 287-8 tonight. It is outstanding :biggrin:. It is spicy (as advertised), but really, really good. We had it on bacon cheeseburgers tonight (the maple bacon discussed upthread). Highly recommended :raz:.

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ojisan   
What I've learned from hot-smoking bacon with the skin on is that it provides a nice insulation which prevents the meat from getting too hard -- because I can face the skin side toward the heat source in my smoker.  Of course, there's a lot of fat under that skin which probably would protect the meat from overcooking and hardening.  But, as long as the skin stays on, the fat beneath it doesn't melt and run all over the inside of the smoker cabinet.

I had assumed that the fat would not melt, having read (and believed) the Rytek Kutas book that claims the fat would not melt below 150 deg. F.

Actually, I'm wondering why bacon has to be hot smoked to 150 deg., instead of 135-140 deg. - it's going to be cooked again later.

O.T. - has anyone made szalona - which I believe is an unsmoked bacon that has paprika in the cure? I remember eating this uncooked bacon (along with home-made palinka, an apricot brandy) for breakfasts in Transylvania.

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ojisan   
Do they use garlic in the bacon cure in Transylvania? :raz:

Actually, there are several variations that do make heavy use of garlic in a brine cure - but then I'm only familiar w/ the Hungarian versions. What I found interesting was eating the bacon uncooked - whether it was cold smoked or only salted, I can't remember... I'd had too much palinka....

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My bacon is out of the liquid and in the fridge on racks.

So, how long do we figure it will take to smoke these?

I'm still using the trusty Weber; my FIL gave me something called a Mr. Meat Smoker (I have no idea if this is a worthy smoker, and I'm not willing to experiment with it on meat), so I'm going to have to do this in two batches (I have two half bellies).

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My bacon is out of the liquid and in the fridge on racks.

So, how long do we figure it will take to smoke these? 

I'm still using the trusty Weber; my FIL gave me something called a Mr. Meat Smoker (I have no idea if this is a worthy smoker, and I'm not willing to experiment with it on meat), so I'm going to have to do this in two batches (I have two half bellies).

According to the book, you are looking for an interal temperature of 150 F. In my various bacon runs, I've had it reach that temperature in as little as 4 hours and as long as 8. It really depends on a variety of factors like the wind, the proximity of the meat to the heat, the temperature of your fire, etc.

=R=

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Pallee   
Anyone besides Pallee using a Luhr-Jensen smoker? I've started experimenting with using a home-made insulation wrapper on a Big Chief in order to get the temp over 200 deg. F. Anyone else using this box with any success?

thanks in advance for your inputs....

I'm curious why you want the temp to go over 200'? From what I've read, meat takes smoke best at under 140'. Keeping your smoker cold allows you to smoke for a much longer time. Sometimes I just finish cooking whatever I have in the oven if I don't feel like firing up one of my hot smokers.

I plan on using my skin to wrap a pork roast I'm going to stuff with some sort of sausage and then cook in my smoker - overkill?

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ojisan   
I'm curious why you want the temp to go over 200'? From what I've read, meat takes smoke best at under 140'. Keeping your smoker cold allows you to smoke for a much longer time.  Sometimes I just finish cooking whatever I have in the oven if I don't feel like firing up one of my hot smokers.

225 deg. to fully cook pulled-pork, ribs etc....

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Jason

thanks for the tips. I was going to add the bactoferm just had not done it as yet. I will search out unsalter fat and grind as you suggested. One question. My scale is not that sensitive so about how much bactoferm do I use for 5 lbs of salumi? Is a half teaspoon sufficient?

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I'm very happy to report that I've taken the plunge and bought a Bradley smoker and some alder, apple, and hickory pucks. (Click here for details on that.) I've already started salivating... er, I mean, planning, planning, that is, about my first batches to smoke.

Based on house preferences and tips here, I'm thinking of starting with some bacon, salmon, bacon, the brine-cured turkey, more bacon, ham hocks, andouille, definitely extra bacon, and chorizo. Perhaps some of the hunter sausages that Elie made. Maybe some gouda. Probably a little more bacon.

Obviously there are some major logistical issues to work out here (curing, refrigeration, cold v hot smoking, space, time), but you can leave those to me. At least, until I panic and run back here to post questions. What I'm wondering is: if you were getting a spankin' new smoker soon, what Charcuterie recipes would you start with?

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I'm very happy to report that I've taken the plunge and bought a Bradley smoker and some alder, apple, and hickory pucks. (Click here for details on that.) I've already started salivating... er, I mean, planning, planning, that is, about my first batches to smoke.

Based on house preferences and tips here, I'm thinking of starting with some bacon, salmon, bacon, the brine-cured turkey, more bacon, ham hocks, andouille, definitely extra bacon, and chorizo. Perhaps some of the hunter sausages that Elie made. Maybe some gouda. Probably a little more bacon.

Obviously there are some major logistical issues to work out here (curing, refrigeration, cold v hot smoking, space, time), but you can leave those to me. At least, until I panic and run back here to post questions. What I'm wondering is: if you were getting a spankin' new smoker soon, what Charcuterie recipes would you start with?

Congrats on the sweet purchase, Chris. I'd definitely try (another) bacon -- especially if you can really cold-smoke with the Bradley. Having hot-smoked several slabs, I'd be curious to know the differences. And yes, the gouda seems mandatory too. Also, as you mention above, I'd want to try some smoked andouille. That's really become the central sausage in my cooking lately. And cold-smoked salmon would be another great thing to attempt. You clearly mastered the gravlax recipe; maybe some lox should be next on the schedule.

=R=

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Bombdog   

Chris and Ronnie

I had some difficulty keeping the temps down in the Bradley (as mentioned in Charcuterie) for the salmon. I haven't tried any cold smoking since then. I'm thinking that two hotel pans filled with ice above and below might do the trick. Let me just say, Chris, that you really need to keep an eye on the temperature once it begins to climb.

As far as the recall, my smoker was recalled, right after it arrived, and before Christmas (I didn't have it yet). The place where the fiance ordered it sent a replacement before Christmas and actually have yet to pick up the recalled unit. I'm not sure, but I believe its a power cord issue.

I'll try to get some pictures in the next day or so of the refrigerator I have converted to a curing chamber. Right now there is a bresaola, salt cured ham, and 5 lbs of Tuscan salami hanging. We are working on the Hungarian salami and some chicken sausage with sun dried tomatoes today. Tomorrow the pork bellies are ready to come out, of which one will hang for pancetta.

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yet another question. I just bought a bone in pork shoulder picnic. It has a good deal of fat on it. Can I use this fat instead of the back fat when making soppresata? Any help would be appreciated.

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yet another question.  I just bought a bone in pork shoulder picnic.  It has a good deal of fat on it.  Can I use this fat instead of the back fat when making soppresata?  Any help would be appreciated.

Definitely yes, when making fresh sausage. I've used it in such applications with outstanding results. As for Sorpressata, my guess is yes but I'd love to hear from someone with some actual, hands-on experience.

=R=

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James, regarding the bactoferm. I would overestimate, and use more, as it won't cause it to be more sour. The pH drop is caused by the amount of dextrose. But i think for 5lbs a teaspoon or so would be more than enough.

Regarding the fat in the shoulder, you can use it, but it may not be as hard as nice back fat, so it might smear a little more when grinding. I wouldn't worry too much about it, and i'd use it.

jason

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