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FoodMan

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

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I'm about to make the peperone for the first time. I've made lots of fresh sausages and always done the taste test before stuffing. This is a fermented sausage and I'm wondering if a taste test will be at all accurate at this stage?

I'm hoping to make a quite spicy peperoni.

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OK. I have the book now and the sausage maker is on order. I have a sack of salt peter (potassium nitrate) at home and would like to use this as I can imagine that getting pink salts or sodium nitrate is going to be a struggle in Edinburgh.

Is there a general rule fo the ration of sodium chloride to potassium nitrate (in weight) in a cure or does it vary from recipe to recipe? I have a few older cookbooks that have cures for pork and mutton hams etc, which mention that too much potassium nitrate with make the meat brittle and tough.

Thanks very much, the book looks very good.

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Cure #1 is 6.25% nitrite to salt. But it isn't just a mix, i believe they are dissolved together and then re-evaporated to make sur there is an even distribution of the nitrite in the salt. Otherwise you may get different amounts in different scoops, which would be dangerous.

jason

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Just to be certain on this, that is for instance 6.25 grams of saltpetre 100 grams of sodium chloride?

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I don't know how saltpeter compares with sodium nitrate and nitrite. If you have a local charcutier, you might ask him or her.

the two books i have that include it (la technique and saveur cooks authentic french) recommend 1/2 teaspoon per 5 pounds of meat, or about 3 grams per 2.25 kilograms.

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OK, I will checj some of my books and let you know what I find out.

But, as I assume that it is the nitrate that is the important bit and the MW of potassium nitrate is 101.1 verses 85 for sodium nitrate, this means that you would use more weight of saltpetre to get the same concentration on Nitrate's.

"local charcutier" :rolleyes: . I wish.

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The MSDS for Potassium Nitrate says may cause reproductive harm. I have a recipe from my great great grandmother for corned beef in which she used this, oak barrels, water, spices, and lots and lots of time to make corned beef. I'm suspecting that I might try this someday, and furter suspect the time can be reduced with the use of a sodium nitrate curing salt.

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I finally got to work with natural casings and made the “Hunter Sausage” (Jagerwurst, is it? :smile: ). Even though they are less convenient that the collagen ones, natural casings are amazing. They are so thin and so strong and make perfect links with no problem. I truly am a convert and will use them regularly.

The recipe itself was very good and tasty with a great texture. It would work as a cold sliced sausage or as an ingredient in other dishes. I did reduce the amount of nutmeg by about half and am glad I did. I could still taste it but it was not assertive. The next time around I might add more of the other two major spices, coriander and mustard seed. Especially the coriander, it gave it a wonderful aroma and an exotic taste that worked very good with the smokiness.

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Here are the smoked links. I do have a nice grill/smoker with a fierchamber and a smoking/griling chamber, but I have no way to hang the sausages. So, I had to lay them on the grates and flip them halfway through. Worked out fine as u can see.

gallery_5404_2234_203368.jpg

Here is a the cut sausage. Even with the overexposure to the flash, you can see the nice texture.

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Elie, those look fantastic. I envied you your smoker -- until today.

I just got back from a local Portuguese butcher where I've gotten great chorice. I was there to buy a pork belly, because my curing salts finally arrived today. So, at checkout, the boss apologizes because we was out in the smokehouse. Feeling brazen, I asked him whether I could bring stuff by to be smoked. "Sure, on Fridays, usually."

:shock:

We struck up a conversation, and now I think I've got a foot in the door there. I am going to start with some fresh bacon with this slab, but the sky's now the limit!

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Love the book enourmously, it was an early Christmas present from my wife, with a smoker arriving for Christmas. I've tried 2 sausage recipes, the bacon, the duck ham, and the pastrami. All have been excellent.

I had no problem with the sweetness of the pastrami, if anything it was spicy for me in the thinner sections - where the ratio of peppercorn crust to interior was higher. I did have the same problem, where certain parts in the center didn't turn pink from the cure. In culinary school we pumped curing brine into anything over a certain thickness, I'm wondering if we should do the same with thicker parts of the brisket here?

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I made the peperone Monday and it's hanging in the wine cellar, looking happy.

I followed the recipe, adding 20g Bactoferm disoved in water. Yesterday I found the paper that came with the Bactoferm F-RM-52 packet, and it claims that 25 grams will do 200 pounds of meat! I only used 5# of meat and 20g. Seems like quite a difference - what's up?

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I noticed the same thing when i read the book. When i make my salame i use about 0.5g of bactoferm for about 5lbs of meat. I THINK you should be ok, since the amount of acidification is controlled by the amount of sugars in the sausage, which the bacteria feed on, and not the amount of bacteria added.

Having said that, using 20g of bactoferm for each batch of sausage is most likely a waste.

jason

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First curing project: I just put 4 lb of pork belly into the fridge to cure using the basic curing mixture and a fistful of cracked pepper. I'll check back in in seven-ten days.

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First curing project: I just put 4 lb of pork belly into the fridge to cure using the basic curing mixture and a fistful of cracked pepper. I'll check back in in seven-ten days.

I'm a few days ahead of you -- 2 bellies curing since last Friday evening -- one as bacon, one as pancetta. If all goes well, I'll be smoking the bacon belly over applewood this Sunday. I'm still trying to figure out exactly where I'm going to hang the pancetta. :wacko:

=R=

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  the amount of acidification is controlled by the amount of sugars in the sausage, which the bacteria feed on, and not the amount of bacteria added.

Having said that, using 20g of bactoferm for each batch of sausage is most likely a waste.

this is exactly right. we've added an explanation to the next editions of the book. the reason for adding so much bactoferm is to make sure enough of the live culture makes it into the sausage. too much won't hurt. Butcher-packer recommends using at least a quarter of the package. the rest can be frozen for serveral months.


Edited by Michael Ruhlman (log)

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Michael, i figured that is why you said to use so much. Problem is, for me at least, at $15+shipping per package, using 1/2 of it on a 3lb batch of meat is rediculous.

I've always used the appropriate amount, and i measure the acidification with a pH meter, seems to work out. I've had mine in the freezer for about 1.5 years now, i vacuum bag it after every use.

jason

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First curing project: I just put 4 lb of pork belly into the fridge to cure using the basic curing mixture and a fistful of cracked pepper. I'll check back in in seven-ten days.

I'm a few days ahead of you -- 2 bellies curing since last Friday evening -- one as bacon, one as pancetta. If all goes well, I'll be smoking the bacon belly over applewood this Sunday. I'm still trying to figure out exactly where I'm going to hang the pancetta. :wacko:

=R=

I'm doing exactly the same thing. Two bellies in the basement fridge making me hungry and excited.

One interesting thing (maybe problem) that I've noticed. The bacon has thrown off quite a bit more liquid than the pancetta. Five days in, the bacon is pretty much swimming in liquid in the ziploc. Five days in and the pancetta is more or less just moist. Are you seeing something similar?

I'm reasonably confident that I measured the ingredients correctly. I wonder if the differences in the curing ingredients explains the difference. Or, maybe the lack of skin on the pancetta?

Anyone have any thoughts?

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I can't make the comparison but it makes sense. There is so much more surface area for the bacon, yes? So there'd be more moisture given off.

I think.

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I can't make the comparison but it makes sense. There is so much more surface area for the bacon, yes? So there'd be more moisture given off.

I think.

Right now they are essentially the same because the pancetta isn't rolled until after it's cured. That said, the pancetta has been skinned, the bacon has not.

bigwino, I am seeing results similar to yours -- and neither belly feels particularly firm yet. There's much more liquid in the bacon bag and the pancetta is nearly as dry as the day I started curing it, although there is some moisture. I'm going to smoke the bacon on Sunday, regardless of its firmness but I hope that by then it matches up a bit closer to the description in the book. In either case, I talked to my butcher today, told him what was going on and he thought that the Friday - next Saturday cure (with one day after for drying) would be totally adequate. I'll take the bacon out of its bag on Saturday afternoon and dry it until mid-day Sunday, when I fire up the smoker.

I've taken a bunch of pics but I'm waiting until I have some finished product before I upload them all to the thread.

=R=

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Ron, I'm glad to hear we're having the same experience. My bacon is firmer than the pancetta, but I started it earlier. I'm leaving them to cure an extra day each since they're a little thick.

I'm smoking on Saturday and also taking down the duck prosciutto that's drying in the basement.

I'll post pics when things are more or less done, too.

Good luck (to us all)! :biggrin:

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I am planning to make the venison terrine with cherries this weekend, and my venison is packaged such that I will make two terrines. One potential cooking vessel is a 1.5 quart silicon loaf pan. Will this do the trick, or should I purchase another earthenware terrine?

As another consideration, I am considering inclusion of some venison backstrap as an inlay ala the pork terrine with pork tenderloin recipe. Would a quick sear of the backstrap followed by chilling before placing in the center of the terrine be the proper method? Thanks for any advice. This book has been great; the chicken, basil, and tomato sausage was outstanding, as were maple bacon and an improvised batch of rillettes fashioned from confit of chicken gizzards. :wacko:

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As another consideration, I am considering inclusion of some venison backstrap as an inlay ala the pork terrine with pork tenderloin recipe. Would a quick sear of the backstrap followed by chilling before placing in the center of the terrine be the proper method?

Not knowing the recipe you referred to, I would salt cure any large whole peices which you add to the terrine, if your terrine uses sodium nitrate I would cure with sodium nitrate (amount as recommended on the package) for a day and a half, and skip the sear. That said, if you plan on eating it all in a day or two feel free to try it the way you describe. Remember it's all trial and error, so get trialing. :wink:

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My first attempt at Charcuterie bacon (and my first eGullet post! of course it's about bacon...)

We did savory bacon sans nitrite and found it to be not-so-much. Too meaty, too savory, not enough smoke flavor. But it looked good.

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So, I broke down and ordered some pink salt and did a sweet version, adding a little liquid smoke to make up for it not being in a smoker to cook. (Apartment living... alas.) I also added some honey to the party and it turned out deeelicious.

Um. Yum-a-rama.

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Next on the docket (in the fridge) is a pork belly divided into 3 test bastardized Alton/Charcuterie combo recipes. I know they sound odd, but no harm in tryin'...

1) honey mustard

2) molasses pepper

3) Guinness & chocolate (two great tastes -- they must taste great with bacon, right?)

Will post about the results when they are ready!

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Looks great, melicob -- and welcome to eGullet! I am in day four of my fresh bacon curing: good liquid, not yet firm. Feeling good about it.

This thread has gotten me to thinking about making lop yuk or Chinese bacon.

gallery_19804_437_21704.jpg

Here's a thread devoted to the subject, and here's a recipe for Naw Mai Fon by Russell Wong. If you have never had real lop yuk, I can attest to the transformative effects of this ingredient, particularly when it's home-cured. The photo above depicts lop yuk that was made by the mother of the owners of my favorite Chinese foodstuffs store, but she doesn't make it that often. I've not been able to find out how she makes it with any precision, and the instructions I've seen are less detailed than I would like (being the rather anxious curer that I happen to be). Ratios, man, I need ratios.

As a starting point, I'm taking Ben Hong's useful thoughts on the matter from the above thread:

Cut pork belly into 1 inch wide strips. Marinate in a "heavy" marinade of salt, dark soy, rum or other spirits, black pepper, sugar, and for safety's sake, a bit of saltpetre. String each piece and hang in an airy, cool dry, place until it attains the right feel. Store in a fridge.

I'm posting it here because I think that I might be able, with your help, to adapt some of the techniques from Charcuterie using these ingredients to make it myself, since it's basically a fresh bacon. I've also PMed Ben in case he can remember a bit more about the technique and proportions. Here are some of my questions:

  • How can I measure the salinity (is that a word? the saltiness, I mean) of the soy and salt? Can I, or is this hit-and-miss-and-try-again cooking?
    Ben lists rum; I have procured a very nice bottle of shaoxing wine, which I'm assuming is a good substitute. But in Charcuterie there are no spirits. What role does the hooch play?
    Ben lists saltpetre. I'm assuming I can substitute pink salt in the appropriate ratio from the book for whatever weight of meat I have. :hmmm: Right?
    My purveyor's grandmother only cures when the weather is cool and dry, and she does it outdoors to take advantage of the wind -- which sounds just like Ben's "airy, cool dry, place." What temperature does "cool" mean? In the book, it sounds like I don't want to get above 75F, which won't be a problem indoors or out here. So should I be hanging this outside? In the cool basement with a fan? Both and compare?

I would really appreciate any input. I'm hoping to get this going in the next few days and document it here.

In closing, I'll add that I wish there were some recipes for Asian sausages (especially lop cheung) and cured meats in the book, Michael. Any reason why there aren't?

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