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FoodMan

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

600 posts in this topic

Dave, can you paste a photo in that indicates these lines?

You can see them in Ron's pic from earlier in the thread - they look like cracks in the meat.

gallery_3085_2512_27618.jpg

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Thanks, Dave. I wasn't sure what those lines were about. Since it was my first time out I didn't know if they were naturally-occuring -- and supposed to be there -- or if they were a function of over-handling or over-filling the casings, or what. Do you think they're a symptom of my mixture being too cold?

Chris, I've picked up 3 other books:

Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery by Jane Grigson

--Very useful from an historical perspective and a truly interesting read. This is, for lack of a better description, the charcuterie version of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. However, a lot of the recipes call for a pinch of this or a scant pinch of that. When it comes to curing salts, at least as a neophyte, I'm seeking some more exact guidance.

Bruce Aidells' Complete Sausage Book by Bruce Aidells and Denis Kelly

--Useful for its great diversity of recipes (often several for the same variety of sausage) and some brief, solid technique talk but not nearly as intense or passionate in tone as Charcuterie. Also, you really have to frown upon a guy referring to himself as "America's Premier Sausage Maker," as the cover of this book proclaims. Ugh.

Professional Charcuterie by John Kinsella and David T. Harvey

--The most textbook-like of the bunch. Some useful photos and straightforward explanations. The recipes seem pretty good, but I've only had it for a few days and haven't really read it through yet.

=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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Well, I had to get in the fun here. All of you guys are doing the fresh sausages and dealing with smoking, but I have seen very little air drying and aging of sausage, so I wanted to chime in. I got the book as a self-Christmas present, as none of my immediate family or close friends knew what I really wanted. I must say, that I couldn't wait to get back from my vacation to the school so that I could get ripping into the material. My interest was primarily air-dried sausages, as I have taught, and continue to do so, classes on fresh sausages, pates, and terrine, but have (and don't really know ANY chefs) that have any extensive experience with air drying sausages and whole sub-primals other than salmon fillets or duck breasts.

Working at the school gives me the luxury of having professional grinders and sausage stuffers at my disposal, but becuase of the lack of teaching about air curing, I had to order culture and Cure #2 as well as Dextrose from Butcher-Packer. I found the website to be very easy to use, but found the Bactoferm quite expensive. The first goal was to make Sopprosatta and Finocchiona, a fennel flavored sausage that I bought when i was in Boston at Formaggio Kitchen, an awesome cheese and specialty shop over in Cambridge.

My first problem was where to age the meat. Here in Florida, we have wild temperature changes, which I knew would work against me, and the humidity gets out of control in the summer, so my solution was to hijack a friends extra fridge that he had stashed in his garage. We turned it off, cleaned it down with bleach water, bought a small fan (Wal-Mart $7) and, and installed a hygrometer (Home Depot, $17). We took out all of the drawers and racks, except for the top tier.

Hygrometer, Top Line is Time, Second Line is Temp, and Bottom Line is Humidity %

gallery_23382_2525_297224.jpg

After about a week of drying, we also installed a simple lighting timer for the fan, becuase the fan motor was creating too much heat in the drying box. We set it up to be on all day, running for 15 minutes, and stopping for 30 minutes. We found that this kept the fridge at the right temp, while keeping air curculating.

Timer

gallery_23382_2525_105283.jpg

So, I made the first batch of Sopprasatta per the book, with the exception of the Bactoferm. I tend to agree with jmolinari when it comes to the cost/shipping and the use. I found another Incredible Awesome Site with Formulas and Info about Air Curing and Fresh Sausage which listed the starter culture weight as .2g, as opposed to 20g (100X with weight!!!!!) I used 2 grams (10X the online source) in the recipe, and from what I can tell, has worked fine. I also did not have access to any wine, so I didn't put in what the book called for either. I stuffed them in beef middles, which were available at the school, and they looked great, although, the beef casings were a little bit funky smelling!!

Next, I did the finocchionna, using the formula from the above online source. No problems, and I put them in hog casings. I incubated the two sausages at room temp for about 14 hours, and hung them to dry in our souped up fridge.

I also got a gift of some pork jowels from a chef friend at the school who had some leftover from their class, so I figured that I would make some guanciale (anyone know the correct pronunciation? I can't seem to find an official pronunciation anywhere...). I got a great recipe from our friend Mr. Mario Batali found here, and everything seemed to turn out ok. Can't wait for Carbonara with fresh spring peas!!!

After about 10 days of drying, with tinkering along the way, we have ended up with sausages that have started to grow a nice looking white mold, although we have encountered some small green mold spots. Using Rhulman's suggestion, we wiped the sausages with a clean rag soaked in a heavy salt brine, with good effect. We have been checking on the sausages and guanciale every two days, tinkering with keeping the fridge clean, and wiping any colored or furry mold off of the sausage, and checking for casing hardeing or rips. Overall, minor problems, and for the first time out, I am very happy with the results up to date.

Yesterday, I made another batch of sopprasatta and stuffed it into a large collagen casing that was soaked for about 20 minutes, and also a batch of chorizo, which had recipe problems in the book. The recipe called for no fat back (I added 12 oz. of fat to the mixture), and didn't call for an incubation period even though it called for the Bactoferm (I incubated both types at the same time). Today in class, while my kiddies were figuring out the anatomy of a chicken, I was cold smoking my chorizo for about 4 hours. Went to my friends house tonight, and hung them both, did some maintenance on the fridge (clean and brine wipedown) and figured I could take some pics to share with all.

Fridge with Fan Setup

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The whole kit and kaboodle for now...

gallery_23382_2525_628773.jpg

Aforementioned Chorizo Post Smoke (Student: "Chef, Whatcha doing?" Me: "Smoking some Chorizo." Student: "Chef, you are gonna need some bigger papers for that...")

gallery_23382_2525_34555.jpg

Aforementioned large Sopprasatta in large collagen casing.

gallery_23382_2525_440476.jpg

Finocchionna (had some green fuzzies the other day, so had to wipe down. White mold is a little bit behind the first batch of small sopprasatta)

gallery_23382_2525_602599.jpg

Good mold formation on origional smaller sopprasatta...

gallery_23382_2525_710123.jpg

Guanciale, cured but not smoked pork jowel. If you smoke prior to drying, becomes pork jowel bacon, something we were lucky enough to find at a local supermarket.

gallery_23382_2525_77015.jpg

A few notes on the book and the author: I have found the book to be an extremely good portal into the world of charcuterie. However, that being said, there were definately shortcommings for someone who was trying to really understand the process fully. When I recieved my collagen casings, I had to search elsewhere to find whether or not it was edible or if I had to soak it (No and Yes respectively). I mentioned my problems with the Bactoferm amounts and Chorizo fat ommision uppost. The resources regarding curing salts etc. was very good and concise, so I was happy about that. Overall, like I said, this book is wonderfull for getting me started, but I would have never done this properly or effectively without doing a little bit more digging around in cyberspace.

I did want to say one thing about Mr. Rhulman though. I emailed him with a few questions via his website, and he replied to me within 48 hours, appologizing to me for it taking so long. It is refreshing to have someone of such stature within the industry to be so accessible, and I applaud him for that. The individual help he gave me signified that he continues to be a grounded person who is dedicated to the furthering of our great industry.


Tonyy13

Owner, Big Wheel Provisions

tony_adams@mac.com

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Thanks, Dave.  I wasn't sure what those lines were about.  Since it was my first time out I didn't know if they were naturally-occuring -- and supposed to be there -- or if they were a function of over-handling or over-filling the casings, or what.  Do you think they're a symptom of my mixture being too cold?

It's just that the force meat is too firm to fill the casing smoothly so its folding rather than ending up a continuous length of meat. It being either too cold or too dry would be my guess for the cause.

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Ladies and gentleman of the jury, I offer the following as exhibit A in my self-defense, by reason of obsessive insanity coupled with poor food safety protocols, against charges that I have a single clue about what I'm doing:

gallery_19804_437_26697.jpg

Phone cords, twine, and a fan, baby! You're looking at the top of the stairwell on the third floor of our house, which thanks to poor insulation and a solid door at the base of the stairs up, stays a cool 50-55F. (Don't you like my snappy new Radio Shack hygrometer?) It's also a bit drier up there right now than people have suggested thanks to a cold snap -- and I'm assuming that drier is fine, yes?

Now I just have to hope that having this entire contraption fall twice, covering the lop yuk in, well, yuck, won't have a deleterious effect. But, then again, if things start to go wrong, I'll just start channeling MacGyver again. :wink:


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I also got a gift of some pork jowels from a chef friend at the school who had some leftover from their class, so I figured that I would make some guanciale (anyone know the correct pronunciation?  I can't seem to find an official pronunciation anywhere...). 

i'm no italian expert, but i'm pretty sure it's pronounced basically gwahn-CHA-leh.

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Chris, your lop yuk looks great. When it's ready let me know and I will send you my mailing address. :raz:

Which recipe did you use? Now I want to make lop yuk too.

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Question: I have been to 4 what I consider real butchers...none has any pork back fat for sale. They all use it in their own sausage, or don't have any (???)...

You might want to try calling Byrd's Meats on 7 Mile just east of Farmington Rd. in Livonia if you haven't already. I seem to recall having seen it there.

T.

Byrd's had it... Thanks..BTW the chicken sausage is awesome as they say in the book...loose with some garlic, olive oil, and pasta...can't wait to grill some soon...Had my wife help me stuff the rest...she was thrilled to watch me handle hog casings :laugh:


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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As promised, the next series of bacon:

It looks like you were using foodsaver bags...did you just seal or did you vac and seal?

Looks awesome....

Also too all...in the book they mention and recommend the Bradley Smoker. I've been doing a lot of research and this seems to be a good choice (esp. for cold smoking). I was looking to buy one and rig it with a McGyver type digital temperature control so that I didn't have to hang out all day with it, but I have found that the next model will have such a contraption. Lot's of good discussion about the smoker on the forums at Bradley Smoker I still haven't decided to wait as I think I can modify current one cheaper...


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 finally gotten started with my book, but with some very basic stuff: I'll have corned beef next weekend and dill pickles in a couple weeks. I'll try bacon and duck prosciutto next.


"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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Today I had a 2nd run at sausage stuffing and it went much better than it did the first time. I corrected and tweaked a lot of things this time around.

First of all, I managed to successfully clamp the stuffer to my counter so that I could crank it by myself, while stuffing the casings. I also applied a dab of grease to the main shaft and the edge of the plunger before the run. Also before the run, I cranked the plunger all the way up and down so that the grease would coat the gears entirely. That made the cranking exponentially easier than last time. I also managed to get the casings onto the horn with relative ease.

Keeping in mind a bunch of advice I'd gotten here and from my butcher, I managed to fill the casings eventy -- but not overfill them. I had no bursts this time and I didn't worry when I noticed a few air pockets in the initial coil I laid out. As a few folks have mentioned, such air pockets can easily be remedied with a pin-prick and casings which aren't overly stuffed are much easier to successfully convert into links.

Temperature-wise, I kept things in control . Since I was working with 3.5# of chicken and 1.5# of pork fat, I was able to keep the fat frozen until the very last minute. I then ran it through the grinder with the boneless, skinless thigh meat which I seasoned last night. The spider lines, which Melkor pointed out upthread, are still there but I'm beginning to think that they're simply an innate characteristic of the casings, or the way they were processed or the way I prepped them, because today's run was so different than the last one and yet, they are still present. I realize now that last week's run was very over-filled. If anything, today's run was underfilled, yet the lines persist.

Here's a look . . .

gallery_3085_2543_220361.jpg

These chicken sausages are actually an amalgamation of a few recipes from Charcuterie. They contain roasted garlic and roasted, diced poblano peppers.

gallery_3085_2543_302467.jpg

'Spider' lines are present throughout, but if anything, the casings were underfilled. The lines were also present when I overfilled. Today, I could see them on the empty casings as I was threading them onto the horn but I'll admit, I don't normally notice them in other sausages. Here, they are visible in where the filling comes in direct contact with the casing and also in spots where there is a bit of air between the filling and the casing. I'm probably doing something wrong, but I'm not exactly sure what. Based on how they tasted, I'm not sure it really matters :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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Hi Ronnie,

I wouldn't worry about these 'spider lines'.

I speak here from my previous life as a physiologist rather than as a meat guy (as I consider myself now!). I am pretty sure that these 'spider lines' are the remnants of blood vessels within the gut wall. During rest in man, a whopping 30% of the cardiac output goes to the GI tract via the splanchnic blood supply. I'm sure a similarly impressive amount is supplied to the GI tracts of the animals that supply the beautiful sausage skins that we use. After the majority of tissue is 'washed' away during the cleaning and salting procedure to make the sausage skins these lines that are left over I'm pretty sure are what is visibly leftover from the larger blood vessels.

Back with my 'meat guy' hat on now, these lines are present in the majority of the premium sausages that I have judged in competitions and are THE easiest way to see that a natural skin is being used as the 'curve' can be replicated in collagen skins.

I just changed the picture from the one I previously posted to one of some Kranskies we made today. Here the 'spider lines' are very prominent.

gallery_31652_2254_15971.jpg

I think these lines 'show off' the fact that you have bothered to use a a good quality natural casing and are indicative of a well made sausage.

Well done.

As a side note, I am about to make my first batch of 'American style' sweet maple cured bacon from the book. The bacon we make in Australia is usually 'pumped' with brine and then held in a holding brine overnight before smoking and also incorporates the eye fillet (is this the same as Canadian bacon?). The type of sweet, streaky bacon that you guys in the US make is sure making me excited. I have just spent half the night readjusting the 'basic cure' recipe from Charcuterie to account for the curing agent that we use (ours has twice as much Sodium Nitrate to the pink salt described in the book). I'm not sure if I'll bother posting pics as so many people have already made the bacon and documented their post beautifully, but I will let you know how it tastes. I'm really looking forward to it.

Cheers,

Doc-G


Edited by Doc-G (log)

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I continue to be astonished by this ongoing transglobal thread. the dialogue is smart and helpful, the pix are fantastic, the sausage shots, from attic to kitchen are great. I'm truly impressed. brian is particularly buried at this time of year but I've asked him to look in on this forum, too.

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This weekend i put into cure some lardo d'Arnaud, and a boneless leg of lamb, which i'll let cure for about 20 days, then hang, making lamb prosciutto. The lardo will sit in its brine with herbs for 3-5 months.

jason

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gallery_35908_2531_378684.jpggallery_35908_2531_652236.jpg

Here's my peperone after 3 weeks of hanging. It's starting to get pretty hard and no mold yet!

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'Spider' lines are present throughout, but if anything, the casings were underfilled.  The lines were also present when I overfilled.  Today, I could see them on the empty casings as I was threading them onto the horn but I'll admit, I don't normally notice them in other sausages.  Here, they are visible in where the filling comes in direct contact with the casing and also in spots where there is a bit of air between the filling and the casing.  I'm probably doing something wrong, but I'm not exactly sure what.  Based on how they tasted, I'm not sure it really matters :wink:

Are you taking the pictures with a flash? When I've had the meat folding all over itself inside the casing the obvious lines were only there in the gaps and they looked deeper than yours do now. Are the lines as prominent in person as they are in the pictures? It looks like the lines stand out much more on the outside curve of the sausage than they do on the inside curve where they aren't visible. Whatever the story is, it doesn't affect how they taste and I'm out of ideas.

Every time I read this thread I get motivated to cure more stuff. I think pepperoni is the next sausage on the list.

I've got some wagyu brisket showing up next week for my 3rd batch of pastrami. The cure is still not making it all the way through the meat, even after curing the brisket for an additional 3 days. Any reasonably ideas before I go out and buy a big ugly meat injector thing?

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Are you taking the pictures with a flash?  When I've had the meat folding all over itself inside the casing the obvious lines were only there in the gaps and they looked deeper than yours do now.  Are  the lines as prominent in person as they are in the pictures?  It looks like the lines stand out much more on the outside curve of the sausage than they do on the inside curve where they aren't visible.  Whatever the story is, it doesn't affect how they taste and I'm out of ideas.

Yeah, I've been using the flash and I think it, somehow, amplifies the lines, visually. No worries . . . these were the best tasting batch of the 3 I've tried, so I'm becoming less concerned about it.

=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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Well, I took down my pancetta, but when I cut into it I noticed that there was some mold around the pepper on the inside. :sad: The meat itself looked fine, but I decided to throw it away for safety's sake. Next time I'll just skip the rolling and hang it up as a slab.

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Bursell, i always make mine as a slab. I've always been worried about rolling it for the exact reason you point out. If you don't roll it just right to get all the air pockets out, you may have problems.

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I took down my pancetta last night. Throughout the 14-day hanging process, the ends of the pancetta became a bit hard but the majority of its length remained soft and somewhat firm. After I took it down I decided that before proceeding, I'd wrap the entire thing in a lightly-damp section of cheesecloth, put it in a ziploc baggie and keep it in the fridge for 24 hours. When I retrieved it today, I was pleased because it felt like it had softened up even a bit more overnight. The ends could not be saved, but I actually left them on from the start on because I anticipated that. Once they were cut away, the usable portion of the pancetta was still respectable in size. I don't think I did a great job tying it but I cannot see or smell any mold anywhere in or on the pancetta so I think I'm good to go.

Some pics . . .

gallery_3085_2469_28551.jpg

Not a great pic in that the pancetta looks a lot darker and harder than it really turned out.

gallery_3085_2469_13659.jpg

A very gnarly end. Again, I anticipated losing the ends which I why I didn't trim the pancetta before rolling it. I'm sure I'll find a good use for these.

gallery_3085_2469_192111.jpg

The mothership and a few "offspring."

gallery_3085_2469_100649.jpg

A closer look at a cross-section of the cured, dried pancetta.

gallery_3085_2469_21343.jpg

This slice looks like it has uniform thickness . . . it was pretty close but I do find this much tougher to slice than the bacon.

gallery_3085_2469_295527.jpg

A few pieces of the cooked pancetta.

gallery_3085_2469_117003.jpg

Up close and personal . . . and it tastes even better than it looks.

I really cannot believe what a delicious pancetta this recipe produced. There were a few bumps in the road but I learned a lot from going through the whole process. I hope to fashion a curing chamber for myself before re-attempting this, because I think it will make for an even better end-product. And reading the posts above about the perils of imperfect rolling makes me think that I may not roll at all next time. In either case, I look forward to the next one.

=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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Here is a picture of a pancetta i made most recently. It is so thick because the belly is from Ossabaw Island pigs, which are a rare breed found only on Ossabaw Island off Georgia's coast. It was cured for 20 days and then dried for about 45 days. My other piece is still drying/maturing, it is now at 75 days. Yum

gallery_15167_2548_17597.jpg

For my next batch i'll try the formula in Charcuterie.

thanks

jason


Edited by jmolinari (log)

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